Bon Voyage, Captain
Shock and grief descended upon the Jamaican sporting fraternity yesterday, as news of the passing of Captain Horace Burrell, perennial president of the Jamaica Football Association (JFF), hit the world.
Absent from the local scene for a prolonged period, Burrell, 67, died in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States (US), after suffering from cancer for the past year and having to undergo treatment at the Johns Hopkins Cancer Treatment Center, also in Maryland.
Renowned for his robust leadership qualities, the football chief served as a Captain in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
He would later be tasked with looking after the JDF football team by Colonel Ken Barnes, the father of English international footballer John Barnes.
Burrell’s journey with the JDF team saw him crossing paths with Jack Warner, Trinidad politician and former football executive who subsequently offered him an executive position at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).
Following a stint at the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA), Burrell staged a successful bid for the presidency of the JFF in 1994.
The captain would then try his hand at business, having founded The Captain’s Bakery and Grill in 1995 and later Captain’s Aviation Services in 2008.
Most would voice that Burrell’s crowning achievement came in 1997, when the Jamaica National Football team secured qualification to the 1998 FIFA World Cup Finals in France, marking the first time an English-speaking Caribbean country qualified for the world's most prestigious event.
For his outstanding service to football, in 1998 he was bestowed with the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) by the Jamaican Government and the Order of Merit from the world football governing body, FIFA.
Burrell also held the offices of Senior Vice President of CONCACAF and Vice President of the CFU. He served as a member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and a Vice President of the Jamaica Olympic Association.
In October 2011, the FIFA Ethics Committee imposed a six-month ban on Burrell, having implicated him in the Caribbean Football Union corruption scandal.
The Committee later suspended three months of the ban, subject to a probationary period of two years.
“May his soul rest in peace. That’s all I can say right now and of course, I hope his family is quickly able to recover from his demise,” Jack Warner told The Gleaner.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange expressed shock and sadness at the passing.
“Football in Jamaica has lost a cornerstone,” said Grange, whilst conveying her sympathy to family, friends and the executive of the JFF.
Social media also went into a tailspin, with tributes pouring in from across the globe.
Captain Horace Burrell is survived by his children, daughter, Dr. Tiphani Burrell-Piggott and sons Romario and Jaeden.