Bailey, JFF mend fences

It appears that Reggae Boy Leon Bailey and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) have mended fences after Bailey earlier this week accused local football’s governing body of corruption and of trying to block his progress in the sport.

During an interview, Bailey, who plays for Aston Villa in the English Premier League, claimed the JFF took steps to prevent him from getting a visa to travel overseas when he was younger. He also claimed the JFF only invite players from certain clubs to represent the national team.

Bailey stated that the efforts to block his progress were due to his relationship with founder of Phoenix Academy, Craig Butler, who describes Bailey as his adopted son. The controversial Butler, who coached Mona High School to the semi-final round of this year’s ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup competition, is credited with developing Bailey as a player. He took him to Europe where he excelled at Genk Academy and was later sought after by several European clubs.

Bailey also told the interviewer that the same situation relates to another outstanding youth player, Dujuan ‘Whisper’ Richards, who is also conditioned at Phoenix Academy and plays for Kingston College in the Manning Cup. Butler has indicated that Richards will be taken to Genk at the end of the football season. KC has one final game against Jamaica College in the Champions Cup next Saturday.

"A my decision, everything wah me do was my decision. Me neva want to represent the country at that time, not because a wah nobody else seh. A lot of people don't know seh from me about eight or nine me a get fight from the Jamaica Federation. Top man inna the federation, till this day today cyaa look inna me eye," said Bailey during the interview.

"Yeah, dem a fight me from me a likkle yute. Them even try block me from going to Europe. The man dem link embassy and dem thing deh, fi nuh mek me get visa. The last time me guh Europe a Cuba me affi fly to and get me visa, enuh. The man dem block every embassy a Jamaica suh we nuh get the visa fi cut (leave), enuh, and this a some 12-year-old (Leon Bailey) who a try mek it." he added.

In dismissing the claims, JFF general secretary Dennis Chung said: “The JFF can categorically state that none of the accusations made in the interview are factual. However, if there is any evidence at all supporting these allegations, we ask again in this case that this be shared with the JFF so that it can be acted upon as any action as alleged is unacceptable and would be dealt with strongly by the JFF”.

READ: JFF labels Bailey’s comments as false, urges him to provide proof of corruption

Chung had indicated that the matter would have been referred to the team manager and coach for review, as they are the ones who deal with issues relating to the players and the team.

That meeting has now been held and a statement was issued by the JFF on Saturday which stated that Bailey is fully onboard with the national programme.

See the full statement below:

The JFF is pleased to report that team manager Roy Simpson and head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson met with Leon Bailey after an interview where he made controversial statements.

Both officials held fruitful and frank discussions with Leon. The player expressed his full commitment to the national programme and team, and both the team manager and coach expressed their satisfaction with Leon as a valuable member of the Reggae Boyz team.

The JFF had nothing to do with the discussions, as the administration and board do not interfere with coaching responsibilities. This is a good corporate governance directive coming from the president.

“As the report is now in I will speak with Leon, who is someone I have known for many years and I consider him a good person and am very proud of his achievements,” said general secretary Dennis Chung.

“The events over the last few days have been unfortunate, but the JFF believes that this only makes us stronger as a team. The JFF wants to express our commitment to not only Leon, but all our players and staff, and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the success of the Jamaica football programmes”.

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