Fri | May 26, 2017

Bosom buddies - Burrell & Blatter go way, way back

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2015 | 5:00 AM
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (left) embraces Captain Horace Burrell as he arrived in the island in 2010.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is not saying, but local football experts have no doubt that one of the 133 votes cast for FIFA President Sepp Blatter in the presidential election last Friday was from Captain Horace Burrell.

"We could not turn our backs on someone who has been such a good friend to Jamaica over the years," said a JFF official, who asked not to be named.

"It is not in the nature of Jamaicans to abandon a friend in their time of need despite any allegations against them," added the official, as he pointed to Blatter's long ties to the JFF in general and Burrell in particular.

- 1998 - Blatter, then the right-hand man to FIFA president Dr Joao Havelange, made his first official visit to Jamaica. Blatter was elected president of FIFA that year when he beat then UEFA boss Lennart Johansson. Havelange stayed on as honorary president but was forced to step down in 2013 after being named as having received bribes. Blatter was not found guilty of any misconduct, but was branded as clumsy for his handling of affairs.

- 1999 - Blatter, on the invitation of Burrell, paid a second visit to Jamaica just 11 months after being elected as the eighth president of FIFA. Burrell later said that Jamaica was among the first countries to back Blatter, who joined him and general secretary Horace Reid to cut the ribbon at the opening of the federation's headquarters at St Lucia Crescent.

- 2003 - Blatter broke ground at the site for the National Football Academy and Training Centre at the Portmore Town Centre, making Jamaica the 22nd Caribbean country to benefit from the FIFA Goal Project. The first phase of the project was estimated to cost US$600,000 with the FIFA Goal Project providing US$400,000 and the remaining US$200,000 coming from the FIFA Financial Assistance Programme, which is an annual grant given to the JFF.

- 2008 - Burrell and other JFF officials travelled to Zurich to meet with Blatter.

- 2010 - Blatter visits Jamaica as the JFF honoured 10 persons for their contribution to football. Those honoured included former prime ministers Edward Seaga and P.J. Patterson. "It is great, great pleasure for me to be with you," said Blatter. "I am grateful now to be with you when awards are being presented to those who have served over the years and all volunteers in this sport." Blatter also participated in a JFF groundbreaking at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, during that visit.