Sun | Jan 20, 2019

'Par for the course' - Former JFF boss says Ricketts' positive work unaffected by recent events

Published:Monday | April 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMRachid Parchment/ Sports News Coordinator
Coach Theodore Whitmore gives instructions to several members of the national senior football team during a training session last year.

Former Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Tony James said that he does not believe that Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore's resignation from his role as interim head coach of the national senior men's football team and Leon Bailey turning down a national call-up will undo the work current president Michael Ricketts has put in since being elected last September.

Since being elected, Ricketts has secured a friendly international match for the senior men's football team for every designated FIFA day so far, as well as a number of friendlies outside of these FIFA days. The Reggae Boyz also climbed to 45th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola world rankings, their highest placing since 2005. Ricketts' administration also secured a new sponsorship deal with British equipment makers Umbro, which comes into effect later this year. The JFF also purchased its own bus to transport its various teams to cut the cost of renting vehicles from the Jamaica Urban Transit Company.

These moves have been seen as positives by many in the local football fraternity, although Ricketts' administration has also been criticised for not being able to get Bailey into the national team. Many have also said that the JFF has disrespected Whitmore with the reported salary offered to him during negotiations for a permanent contract.

However, James said that what has taken place so far in Ricketts' tenure is just a part of the job.

"These things are par for the course," James told The Gleaner. "These are things that any president has to deal with, so I don't think it will hurt his profile. He (Ricketts) is trying his best. He has taken over in a difficult time, and there are positive things that he has done since taking over."

He continued that Ricketts was handed both a positive and negative legacy from the previous administration, adding that Ricketts' achievements, are a result of the positives while the negatives, he said, stem from what he described as a "politicisation of the JFF. This, he said, has led to debts that the federation has struggled with for years and disrespect of local players and coaches. But James said that this resulted from an overall political and commercial culture in Jamaica that has led to foreign ownership of local businesses, assets, and infrastructure.

James told The Gleaner that when he last spoke to Whitmore in January, they discussed grievances he had with the contract on offer.

"I told him that he should hang in there because it's a new JFF and he should give it a little time," he said. "What I got from him at that time was not what I'm hearing in the media. His interaction with the JFF leaves a lot to be desired. I'm not laying blame. I'm just saying that the conditions of the contract on offer were wanting.

"The JFF didn't want to give a long-term commitment to a local coach, and, if so, they didn't seem entirely convinced that coach was Tappa Whitmore. He didn't think he had the total support of the JFF. I think he was saying he understood the JFF's financial dilemma but felt that they could reach out more to a wider fraternity of Government and the private sector to improve the offer, if I'm paraphrasing properly."

James said that Whitmore was also displeased that the JFF made him out to be very demanding on his end of negotiations.

"The impression of any ultimatum to the JFF was not of his doing but, in fact, a breach of confidentiality of an inexperienced JFF. If nothing positive has progressed from that time in January until now, it could only frustrate him as the national coach."

James led the JFF from 1985 to 1992.