Maintain the 50! - Football agent calls for consistent FIFA ranking to ensure UK work permits
Former national striker now turned football agent, Damani Ralph, said that while it is good that Jamaica is currently ranked 50th in the FIFA /Coca-Cola World Rankings, it is important that the team maintains this ranking in order to give players an opportunity to play for clubs in England.
To this end, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts said that he and his technical team are still trying to create friendly internationals in order to maintain and improve on the team's position.
Based on the English Football Association's (EFA) changes to its work permit regulations for players looking to join professional English clubs, a player looking for such a transfer must have played 75 per cent of his or her nation's competitive matches over the last two years. That nation must, on average over those two years, also have been ranked in the top 50 of the FIFA rankings.
Ralph said that the recent upward move in the ranking does not mean much at the moment, as players cannot gain transfers until the coming summer.
"Given that we are outside the transfer window, this means nothing as yet," Ralph told The Gleaner. "We will need to keep this ranking into the summer when the transfer window is open again. But it will certainly make more of our players attractive to the market if we can keep and improve our ranking, for sure."
Ricketts agrees with Ralph, saying that the Reggae Boyz will need to be active over the next few months in order to remain in the top 50.
"That is the only way we're going to maintain or improve our rankings - by playing games," Ricketts said. "This is one area where the JFF is working assiduously - ensuring that we get some games. We want to ensure that we expose our players as much as possible and as many times as possible. "
However, Ralph said that the ranking changing is not solely based on how well Jamaica does over the next few months.
"I believe we have a good chance, but with the World Cup this June, you never know how the teams who are below us will be ranked based on their performance at the tournament. However, I'm confident our boys will continue to do well," he said.
Ricketts said that the JFF is still waiting to hear from a number of teams who will compete in this year's FIFA World Cup in order to secure international friendlies with them as they warm up for this summer's tournament.
"We had written to teams who have been drawn against teams from the CONCACAF region (in the World Cup)," he shared. "England and Germany responded by saying they have already set up their schedules and they couldn't accommodate us. The first positive response was from South Korea. We are therefore waiting to hear from six or seven teams ... . I have heard some hints of games in May, but that is as far as it goes."
Ralph said that he is especially hopeful for key clients Alvas Powell and Kemar Lawrence, who currently play for the Portland Timbers and the New York Red Bulls, respectively, in Major League Soccer, as they meet the 75 per cent participation clause in the EFA's regulations.