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JFF, Boyz on collision course - Money showdown looms

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 9:00 AM
JFF General Secretary Raymond Grant. - File

Gordon Williams, Sunday Gleaner Writer

A heated dispute over money between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and senior national players may have cooled for now with the implementation of a new deal for the Reggae Boyz.

However, a possible showdown looms when the current pact, acknowledged by both parties as a temporary fix, expires ahead of the Caribbean Cup, a tournament once scarred by an ugly strike and boycott threats by Jamaica players in a clash over compensation.

Sources close to the current issue, discussing it on condition of anonymity, claimed concerns centred on a disparity in compensation between Boyz playing in Jamaica and those based abroad. They said players were paid a match fee and per diem for official tournaments, including most recent World Cup qualifiers (WCQ), but no match fee for friendly internationals. However, the sources claimed those playing overseas - particularly Europe and North America - received per diem of US$100, while Boyz based in Jamaica were given US$50.

Meeting requested

The players requested a meeting on May 26 with JFF top brass shortly after Jamaica's friendly international against Serbia in New Jersey, United States. President Horace Burrell and General Secretary Raymond Grant attended the lengthy meeting, along with administration support staff. During the meeting, players expressed disappointment with what they perceived as unfair treatment.

"It wasn't right," one said while the Boyz were in Canada for a September 9 friendly.

Sources confirmed even non-players backed Boyz' concerns.

No response to a voicemail message left on Capt Burrell's cell phone on Friday 19 had been received up to press time. However, Grant's version of events was different.

Last Friday, the general secretary explained that a system has been in place for players to receive equal compensation, going back to WCQ. Grant said the players had agreed to a compensation package prior to the Serbia game, and three "friendlies" which followed against Switzerland, Egypt, and France, but tried to increase their share.

"Coming into those games, they probably determined that they wanted more probably based on the type of games," he said.

The meeting in New Jersey, Grant explained, was not about a disparity in payment.

"Everybody gets the same," he said. "... It
was about the amount being paid ... . It's not about equality. It is
about an increase."

Asked if the players had a
legitimate reason to be upset about compensation, Grant responded: "To
say that is relative because you have to understand players ... .
There's always need for more and, therefore, that is where the challenge
is."

He declined to disclose details of the
compensation package.

The JFF, which has long claimed
to be strapped for money, did agree to a new deal as a result of the May
meeting, which players were made aware of prior to the Canada game. A
review of one player's e-mail notification verified the rates for all
Boyz, which includes per diem of US$25, plus match
fees of US$500 per player for a win, US$300 for a draw, and US$100 for a
loss.

Jamaica lost 3-1 to
Canada.

However, Grant confirmed that the new deal
only covers the Canada game and another away friendly against Japan next
month. In November, Jamaica will host the Caribbean Cup and he admitted
no compensation package had been finalised with the players to cover
that tournament or, possibly, the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2015 if the team
qualifies.

"As we progress to other tournaments, and
so forth, we're gonna go back to the table," Grant said. "... It's an
ongoing discussion."

The recent pay dispute is one of
several that have affected Jamaica over the years. Probably the most
public spat occurred during the 2010 Caribbean Cup in Martinique when
players went on strike over demands for more money, refusing to train
and threatening to boycott the tournament. JFF brass was forced to "bow"
to their demands.

Although the players accepted the
new deal before the Canada game, they vowed to continue their fight for
better compensation from the JFF.

"It is not over,"
one said in Canada.