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Orville Higgins | Captain Burrell's own goal

Published:Friday | September 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Unlike in this September 2013 photograph by Ricardo Makyn, where Carl Brown has a hearty laugh with Captain Horace Burrell and Winfried Schafer, Brown is now fuming at perceived disrespect by the JFF boss.

Captain Horace Burrell must be wondering if he has somehow offended the gods. Either that or 'smaddy probably tief him white fowl', as old people would say. How else can one explain the litany of unfortunate events that has befallen him in recent times?

A few months ago, he took ill while the Reggae Boyz were in the USA. He has kept relatively quiet about it, but those close to him will tell you that it was serious enough. Not long after that, he had to suffer through the fact that his multimillion-dollar signing of Winfried Sch‰fer effectively blew up in his face, he is now set for a potentially long legal battle to finalise contractual obligations. As if all that isn't enough, he has been embroiled in recent days in a contentious row with one that he has worked so often with - Carl Brown.

Burrell, of course, has brought some of this on himself. That contract with Sch‰fer is puzzling. I still cannot see how such a shrewd businessman and administrator could have allowed himself to sign something that is now proving to be so difficult to get out of. That may have been done in a rare moment of weakness.

On some other issues, it appears that fate is conspiring against him. The latest case with Carl Brown is one example. I have spoken to both Carl Brown and Captain Burrell on my radio programme, and I have listened to them elsewhere in media. The storyline is pretty consistent. Both men agree on the following. Captain Burrell called Carl offering him the job of being in charge of the Reggae Boyz on an interim basis for two upcoming Caribbean games. Carl said he would get back to Burrell while he consulted his employers and family.

Some time after that, Carl received an email from JFF General Secretary Raymond Grant offering him US$100 a day to coach the team for the approximately two-week period. Carl Brown is livid. He feels insulted and disrespected (quite rightly) and emailed back Raymond Grant to voice his disgust and displeasure.

 

LOSE-LOSE SITUATION

 

On learning of his displeasure, Captain Burrell called Carl Brown and asked him to overlook that initial email and apologised for its contents, assuring him that the US$100 was supposed to be per diem and not a salary package. By now, though, Carl would have none of it, and told the president that he is not interested in the job. Burrell then said he tried to appeal to him to rethink, but Carl wouldn't budge, and that was, effectively, the end of that.

A story then appeared in The Gleaner in which Carl said he was disrespected. He complained about many things, including the fact that in that initial email, the JFF didn't mention anything about airfare or accommodation. He also complained on radio that he thought that Burrell was deliberately ignoring his calls a day or so after offering him a job.

None of this has helped Captain Burrell. His popularity continues to take a hit, and his list of detractors may well be growing. There are those who will remain convinced, no matter what, that Burrell was indeed ignoring Carl's calls, although he was offering him a job less than 48 hours earlier.

Burrell's naysayers will maintain that the US$100 was exactly what he planned to pay - and not a dime more. Burrell's enemies will insist that he did disrespect Carl and that the coach had all right to be angry and to walk away from the job offer.

But, of course, there are other interpretations. Many will say Carl overreacted. Many will feel that he should have calmed down after Burrell called him the second time and apologised for that initial email. There are a lot of people who feel that Carl shouldn't be complaining about the fact that there was nothing in that email regarding airfare and accommodation, that he was being a little petty, because these things should have been understood to be automatic.

Many have come away with the conclusion that Carl may have been acting out of long-time grievances with the Burrell administration. This episode hasn't helped Burrell in the least, but it hasn't helped Carl either. This is a classic lose-lose situation.

And after all that, the luckiest coach ever, Theodore Whitmore, will get the reins again, even if only temporary. Not too many coaches get fired and then hired to do the same job after only a few years.

For football's sake, we hope that 'Tappa's' second stint will prove more successful than his first. Who needs soap operas when we have the unending drama in Jamaica's football?

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.