Sun | Feb 23, 2020

Editorial | The unwisdom of Leon Bailey, and worse

Published:Wednesday | October 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM

We confess to sorrow and a sense of loss over the Craig Butler-Leon Bailey affair. For there is the unwisdom of young Mr Bailey and, worse, at the cynical wilfulness of those who, in the end, may coax him to moral perdition, unsaved by his precocious talent.

Leon Bailey is the Jamaican footballer who plays for the club Bayer Leverkusen in Germany's Bundesliga, for which he scored 12 goals last season. He has set himself a target of 20 in the current season. In the normal scheme of things, a player of Leon Bailey's talent, if he is not committed to another country, would be expected to be playing in Jamaica's national team.

He has been invited. He has, thus far, declined. Latterly, he has accused the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) of reneging on commitments for him to be part of the squad. He has given the JFF until November "to go ahead with whatever we have asked of them".

Mr Bailey's complaint has nothing to do with the normal terms of engagement, such as appearance fees, accommodation, or what position he would play on the field. Rather, he wants to determine who the JFF selects for the national team, as well as for the federation to facilitate a scheme, which, if attempted in the normal course of commerce, would be in breach of Jamaica's fair-trading rules: forcing consumers to buy a good to acquire another. In this case, its smacks of nepotism.

Quite unabashedly, Leon Bailey insists on being joined in Jamaica's team by Kyle Butler, the biological son of his reported adoptive father and mentor, Craig Butler.

"I need players who can understand me," he told this newspaper. "You can't expect me to jump in a system and expect it to work. I need help. I am a winner, a Phoenix ... so I need people who I know are capable of making things happen."

While it was Leon Bailey who mouthed those words, most people are likely to discern the ideas of Craig Butler and believe them so to be. In other words, there will be the suspicion of another backhanded attempt by Mr Butler at a putsch at the JFF - the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau.

Mr Butler is a football impresario and, in our view, a certified narcissist, who appears to possess some capacity for spotting talent. At least, he nurtured Leon Bailey at his Phoenix Academy. You might mention, too, his son Kyle, who is aligned with an overseas club.




Mr Butler had a long-running dispute with the JFF, which he believes is uncreative and incompetent, and which he thinks is in need of his expertise in order to catapult Jamaica's football to higher levels. At one stage, he insisted on being president, or director of football. Mr Butler may well be right about his competence, but is absolutely wrong in the methods he has chosen to command the stage to display his worth.

Mr Butler initially tried to bully and blackmail his way to a top position in the JFF. He insisted that he had to be part of the set-up for Leon Bailey to join the team, then sought to pair Mr Bailey's availability with his son's.

In recent times, Craig Butler and the JFF declared they had buried the hatchet. In Mr Butler's case, it appears that the hatchet may have been handed to someone else for wielding.

This newspaper doesn't much like the JFF. We, however, like much less people who besmirch democracy, would be petty dictators , or would create nepotistic dynasties. If the JFF believes that Leon Bailey should be part of its set-up, he should always be invited to join its teams - no strings attached. If he declines, so be it.

In the meantime, Craig Butler might establish his own national football organisation. Or he can again challenge for a position in the JFF in a competitive election.