WHILE refusing to give details why Lorne Donaldson's contract was not renewed, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) General Secretary Dennis Chung has countered claims that the organisation has not done enough to develop the women's game.
Donaldson's contract as head coach of the senior women's football team expired on Saturday, and according to a press release issued by the JFF on Friday, it was mutually decided not to renew it.
In the release the JFF said that "after an extended discussion both parties came to an agreement that the contract would not be renewed".
Donaldson has since challenged the JFF's account.
Though the relationship between the outspoken Donaldson and the JFF has long been a strained one, his release comes as a surprise to some.
The tactician led Jamaica's Reggae Girlz to the round of 16 of the 2023 Fifa Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Their achievement is the only of its kind in the country's football history.
He was also an assistant coach to Hue Menzies for the Reggae Girlz debut at a World Cup, in France 2019.
During the recent World Cup down under the Reggae Girlz earned goalless draws with France and Brazil. A 1-0 victory over Concacaf rivals Panama ensured progression from the group stage, before they were eliminated 1-0 by Colombia in the round of 16.
Just days ago the Jamaicans lost 4-1 on aggregate to reigning Olympic champions Canada, in a home-and-away tie which erased their dream of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Games.
However Donaldson, who is a popular figure with the players, suggested the decision to not renew his contract as head coach goes beyond the results on the field.
"Another thing he [Chung] said is that if they [the Reggae Girlz] had done well with the Olympic qualifiers we [the coaching staff] would have carried on. You don't want to work in a condition where you are being judged based on one game, and not your body of work. So, I guess what happened at the World Cup didn't matter and it never really had anything to do with football," Donaldson told Sportsmax.tv.
Donaldson also questioned Chung's support for the women's game, accusing the JFF general secretary of openly expressing a defeatist stance.
"I never said that. I said something that everybody has said, and I had repeated it in the press already. In spite of how well the Girlz have done — and this is an international thing — people prefer to go to male games because we see more crowds at the male games," Chung told the Jamaica Observer.
"So we are saying; 'It is a pity, in spite of how well the Girlz have done, still they don't want to come out and support the games. Following the friendly international games against Paraguay [in November 2022] we just weren't seeing the crowd support at that time — and that was the point that I made," he affirmed.
"In addition to the salaries that we paid every month to the coaching staff, remember that I have always said that since November last year to the World Cup campaign we spent US$2 million (over $310 million). We haven't spent as much money on the men's programme as we have on the women's programme.
"Also, we recently restarted the Women's Premier League; and we also had the Under-20 go away, Under-14 Girlz go away, and this was the first time since 2020 that the Under-14 Girlz have been participating in the Concacaf competition. We had the Under-17 recently where we hosted a group here. And so if we weren't interested in the female programme why would we have done so many things?" Chung further stated.
Donaldson was appointed head coach in June 2022 to replace Vinimore "Vin" Blaine, who was forced to resign a few months into his tenure after the senior members of the Reggae Girlz team asked for his removal.
When Chung was questioned about a timeline for replacing Donaldson, given the impending Women's Gold Cup qualifying fixtures starting away to Panama in late this month, Chung said updates should be available soon.
"The technical committee is actually looking at everything now and they will make a recommendation to me," he said. "Afterwards, we will go through the whole human resource process — if that is necessary — in terms of persons who are recommended.
"We understand that there is a continuing programme, and we have a match in a couple of weeks, but we are not going to have any breaks [in the programme] and so we are going to deal with the thing quickly and ensure that the programme continues," he said.