Gov't agency mulls JFF cash requestMonday, September 27, 2021
BY SANJAY MYERS
Sports Development Foundation (SDF) General Manager Denzil Wilks says the agency is in discussion with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) about helping to offset expenses for the Reggae Boyz World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Government-run SDF, which provides grants for sporting bodies, allocates $3.5 million to the Michael Ricketts-led JFF each month.
However, the cash-strapped football federation, struggling to attract corporate sponsorship, has made a proposal for additional funding, citing the senior men's World Cup qualifying ambitions.
“There is a general request that has come to us to assist with their preparations for the World Cup, including all upcoming games. We are in discussions with them; that's under consideration, [but] no decision has been made as yet,” Wilks told the Jamaica Observer.
“That [amount of $3.5 million] is their subvention and is different from if a competition is coming up and they request funding toward that,” he said. JFF General Secretary Dalton Wint told the Observer that both the women's and men's programmes are in desperate need of cash injection.
“The JFF is cognisant that next year will be the 60th anniversary of our [Jamaica's] Independence and the 60th anniversary of the existence of the JFF. We would love for both teams to qualify for the World Cup to present that to the people of Jamaica.
“It is impossible for the Jamaica Football Federation to do it alone. We need corporate Jamaica and we need the government to stand side-by-side with us,” he said.
The women's programme, which relies extensively on financial support from the Bob Marley Foundation, has crucial upcoming engagements. The senior Reggae Girlz, who qualified for the 2019 World Cup Finals in France, will in November begin their campaign for a crack at the 2023 global football showpiece.
The Boyz, who reached the France 1998 World Cup Finals, have played three of 14 scheduled matches in the 2022 Concacaf octagonal stage, with the JFF estimating a bill so far of just over $100 million.
Airfare, including for players travelling from various parts of the world, and accommodation accounts for nearly 70 per cent of that total.
Wint had previously stated the campaign, which runs into next year, could cost the local body upward of US$4 million at the final tally.
The Jamaicans are last in the eight-team table with a solitary point after a 1-2 defeat to hosts Mexico, followed by a humiliating 0-3 loss at home to Panama and a 1-1 result away to Costa Rica.
Mexico are top of the Concacaf octagonal qualifying with seven points, ahead of Canada (five points), United States (five), and Panama (five), Costa Rica (two), Honduras (two), El Salvador (two), and Jamaica (one).
The eight teams in the round robin, home and away format are vying for three direct places to the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals. The team that finishes fourth will be involved in an intercontinental play-off for another spot.
Jamaica's next qualifier is against United States in Texas, on October 7, followed by a home game against Canada three days later, and their October 13 fixture against Honduras in San Pedro Sula.
Wilks, who said there had been no JFF request for funding ahead of the Panama home fixture, confirmed that the SDF has previously given assistance beyond the general cash allocation.
“They (the JFF) didn't ask for anything for that particular period. In the past we have assisted with the preparation for games, but this year in particular we didn't make any direct contribution toward that,” he said.
“They have to report to us on a quarterly basis as to how it (the money) is utilised. We know for a fact that much of it is used in terms of salaries [for staff]. They run so many different age-group competitions, and they are continuously seeking to qualify for various competitions from the age groups all the way up to the senior World Cup,” the SDF general manager explained.
He emphasised that the government agency has also backed the local premier league by providing funding for clubs and the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL).
Through the payout, totalling $7.2 million, the 11 clubs which competed this season, are to receive $200,000 monthly from September to November. The PFJL is to also be given $200,000 monthly over the same period.
“We assist the clubs and the PFJL — we provide the league with $7.2 million and it's distributed in such a way that the clubs get directly. That's a total of $600,000 to each entity between September and November.
“The decision was taken to provide some [money] directly to the clubs because we know the kind of expenses that they come under. And we know quite often they are not able to get that from the sponsors because a lot of sponsors, of course, provide their sponsorship in kind, rather than in cash,” he told the Observer.
Tivoli Gardens, Cavalier, Mount Pleasant Football Academy and Waterhouse are currently competing in the semi-finals of the Jamaica Premier League. The other contestants this season are Vere United, Harbour View, Dunbeholden, Portmore United, Arnett Gardens, Molynes United and Humble Lions.