NEWS

Wint clears air on travel disparity among Boyz

Saturday, April 03, 2021

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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) General Secretary Dalton Wint has admitted that the federation was forced to upgrade four English-based players to first class for their trip to Saudi Arabia for two friendly internationals last November in response to accusations levelled by a senior member of the Reggae Boyz team Kemar Lawrence.

Wint said pressure from some clubs had forced them to switch the players from economy to first class, but the upgrade did not extend to all the players.

JFF President Michael Ricketts was also contacted for a response but told the Jamaica Observer he had no knowledge of the situation and promised to find out.

“I can't confirm or deny that,” Ricketts said. “I really don't know and it's the first I was hearing this and the most I can say is that I will investigate and find out what would have happened and if it is in fact so, why? But I can't tell you as I really don't know.”

Kemar “Taxi” Lawrence has levelled accusations of uneven treatment of senior players and their English-based teammates, citing several instances where players travelled in separate areas of the same plane for games.

In the run up to the Concacaf Gold Cup and the final round of the World Cup qualifying, the JFF's executive and the players have been locked in a protracted and at times bitter negotiation and in a recent interview with football journalist Simon Preston on the YouTube channel Reggae Boyz Commentary, Lawrence, who now plies his trade in the top Belgian League, said the stand-off was about more than just financial remunerations.

“The negotiations are about more than one thing, it's not about the money. People are getting injured flying economy across the world and when they reach, they only have two days to train and then play,” Lawrence said.

“The other day when we were going to Saudi Arabia, upon boarding my flight in London, I met with four English-based players who went into business class and they put me in economy. On the way back, same thing. I play for an elite club in the top flight in Belgium. I have more caps than all four put together and these are the things that cause segregation. Enough seats were on the flight, so what do they leave me as a senior player to think?” Lawrence asked. “Where is the level of respect and professionalism?”

Contacted on Wednesday as well, Wint told the Observer, “All players and staff we booked economy, however we came under pressure from some clubs and had to upgrade some tickets.”

A year ago Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson had turned down a first call-up as it was said he was not satisfied with the travel arrangements, though he has since represented the national team.

Lawrence added: “At the end of the day, I have a job to do and I try to do it to the best of my ability. It has happened to me, (Damion) Lowe, (Andre) Blake, (Junior) Flemmings, all of us, and this is not the second or third time that this has happened. Put players on direct flights, business class flights.”

The former Harbour View FC player who has also turned out for the New York Red Bulls in the US MLS says they are being given “a take it or leave it” offer from the JFF with the threat of more English-based players coming in to take their places.

“We're currently in negotiations with the JFF and their stance is 'take whatever we are giving you guys, or we will just call some other people', and we are at a place where if you say you are negotiating with us, then negotiate,” he said. “Until we can look at things and say we think this is fair, we will not be playing. We love to represent our country but we have to make steps in the right direction, because it's like it's a slave mentality to them. The way they come across is that anything they offer, we have to take. The JFF have no one on staff that most of the players feel like they can talk to, probably only our manager, Roy Simpson.”

He was quick to point out, however, that they had no issues with the English-based players being included. “We see them calling a lot of English players and we want that because we can't qualify without them and the English players can't qualify without us. We want them involved, but they can't win without us,” he said. “The JFF is trying to put a gap in us and that's what the players want to avoid because when we gather at camp, we try to make it a space where everybody is happy and comfortable and you are amongst brothers.”