Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Put down your foot, JFF! - Paul Hall calls for greater resolve in dealing with Leon Bailey dilemma

Published:Saturday | March 31, 2018 | 12:00 AMRachid Parchment/ Sports News Coordinator
Reggae Boy Fitzroy Simpson (right) thunders a shot on goal on as teammate Paul Hall admires his effort during the Canada vs Jamaica World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on September 7, 1997.
Leon Bailey during a training session at the Waterhouse Stadium in December 2017.

Former national midfielder Paul Hall said that he does not approve of how Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey's camp went about negotiations with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to have the player represent the Reggae Boyz.

Hall said that it is important that the JFF not let players and their agents hold the team to ransom, like he suggests Bailey's agent Craig Butler is doing because he was not offered an opportunity by the Federation to implement what he (Butler) described as a national football culture.

"There are a lot of things in football that don't surprise me," Hall said. "We get it all here in England, and I just feel that nobody should hold anybody to ransom. Then, the game spirals out of control. You either want to play for Jamaica, or you don't. It's as simple as that. If you wanna play for Jamaica, then come on. We really want you But if you don't want to play for Jamaica, then fine. There's enough talent around the world to be able to develop the team."

But Hall said that the JFF should be doing whatever it can to find the best players to create the best possible squad for World Cup qualifying. He said that this would create enough options to ensure that the national squad can move on without whoever chooses to decline national selection in the future.

"The development of the national team is really, really important" Hall shared. "We have a few years to qualify for the next World Cup (2022).

This team needs a lot of time to develop. If we can't get the best available player, lets develop someone else who's got talent. There are lots of natural talent in Jamaica, and we need to develop from those young ages and bring them all through. Then, we can say we've got ten Leon Baileys. So, if you wanna do that (play for someone else), then do that, but we've got a few more like you."

Hall said that he does not believe Bailey to be eligible to play for England, despite talks that he may represent Gareth Southgate's side at this summer's FIFA World Cup in Russia. He said that this is because he has seen a similar situation to Bailey's, who is said to be eligible to represent England because his adoptive father Craig Butler's parents are British.


Previous problem


"I think we had the same problem with David Johnson, didn't we?" Hall asked rhetorically. "He was trying to play for Jamaica at one point, and because he thought that he could play for Scotland, Ireland, and Jamaica.

He was born in Jamaica, so the only country he could play for was England (through naturalisation after five years of residency) and Jamaica. You can't play for the birthplace of your adoptive parents, but you can play for the birthplace of your parents, grandparents or where you were born."