Fri | Jul 19, 2019

We still want Bailey - Ricketts

Published:Sunday | April 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMAkino Ming
JFF president Michael Ricketts

President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Michael Ricketts says that the association will continue to try to convince Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey to commit to representing his country of birth despite his recent snub.

Ricketts, however, warned that his administration would not meet any "unreasonable" demands to secure the services of the exciting player.

This comes amid recent comments from the 20-year-old, who snubbed the national programme and said that he was focussing on his club career.

In a recent interview, Bailey stated that he would not be donning the national colours until he sees changes geared at developing the nation's football, echoing the sentiments of his manager and adopted father, Craig Butler.

However, Ricketts said that he was not discouraged by Bailey's cold shoulder and stated that his administration would be sending the explosive winger an invitation to play for the country on every FIFA date.

"We are going to continue to invite him, and each time we have a game that will be played in the FIFA window, we will extend an invitation to him, and whenever he is ready and wants to respond positively, then fine. But we always want to select the best players, and he is one of our better players," Ricketts said.

Ricketts was nevertheless quick to emphasise that the federation would not bend over backwards to get any player to represent the country.




"We are not going to do anything special to facilitate any particular player. Whatever we do is exclusively, in the interest of the football, nationally, and we can't make an adjustment for a player. And if we do that, we would have to make that adjustment for every single player," Ricketts said. "The JFF is structured in a certain way, and if we think that we need to make adjustments in order to develop the interest of the sport, then we will, but not at the demand of a particular player."

He continued: "I don't think what we are doing is perfect, but also, I don't think that it is bad. The Caribbean looks to Jamaica for leadership, which means that they see something in our structure that they are impressed with."

Though there is every indication that this is not the case, it has been suggested that the attacker can represent another country, with England, Belgium, and even Malta making the rounds.

Ricketts isn't buying it and is taking comfort in the fact that the young player, at present, does not qualify to compete for another country besides Jamaica.

"Eventually, he will want to know that he is playing national football, not just club football, and if he is not qualified to play for another country through naturalisation or through marriage, the only country that he can legally represent is Jamaica," Ricketts said.