Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Laurie Foster | JFF vs Butler: Time for a mediator

Published:Wednesday | September 5, 2018 | 12:00 AM
JFF president Michael Ricketts
Phoenix Academy founder Craig Butler (centre) and standout players – his sons Leon Bailey (left) and Kyle Butler.

A little over a week ago, another local media house featured an interview with the hard-hitting football critic and Phoenix Academy founder, Craig Butler.

He was his usual strident self. Very little, if anything, has changed since the vexed matter of his boys playing football for Jamaica was raised. On listening to the build-up and realising that it was the first on the subject to which Foster's Fairplay had been privy for some time, there was eager anticipation. The dream was that there would be a new twist to the ongoing story of the continuing strife or to put it in a less lethal form, stand-off with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). There was no such luck.

Not for the first time, and in a noticeably more serious tone, Butler slammed the door on any suggestion that his two main boys, Kyle and adopted son, Leon Bailey would represent Jamaica. Of course, he nauseatingly rehearsed the primary reason, which was that the country did not have a structure or philosophy in place to accommodate the skills and concepts which he had instilled in the youngsters from a tender age.


Butler's message


The message which could be extracted, coming from the proud father, was that their progress would be retarded irreversibly by their having on-field contact with players who did not know what they were doing.

Now, why has Foster's Fairplay seen it fit to focus on this particular negative message? A few more of a similar nature have come from that source but they were brushed aside by this columnist.

There was no conviction to carry them, as the hope was that better judgement would eventually prevail and the repeatedly brandished, 'I love my country' flag would be held aloft, this time to telling effect. Whatever vestige of a doubt that existed as to Butler's thought processes and final intention was being given to him. This benevolence on the part of this columnist was driven by the fact that it was inconceivable to have expressions of love for country and the hard lines being taken by Butler, occupy seats at the same bargaining table.

Judging from Butler's latest broadside against the JFF, it now seems that he has come to a point where his view, as expressed, was the proverbial last draw of cards. He had reached the end of his tether - "No mas, I am outa here." Having said all this, and to maintain credibility, Foster's Fairplay should exercise caution in saying what could be deemed to be final positions by Butler. In this regard, it is only the interpretation which is cited.

The thrust and parry has gone on for far too long. The situation, as it now stands, is not how persons blessed with intelligent minds should elect to operate. There needs to be a cooling of tempers to promote clearness of thoughts, as the matter is crying out for a mutually beneficial outcome. A position ought to be taken that the current players (JFF and Butler) do not appear to be capable of reaching the solution that is in the best interests of the lovers and supporters of the Reggae Boyz. It is hard to draw the inference that the country does not want Butler's boys, past and present, to wear the Jamaican strip.

This is so long as they have the requisite skills, which Leon Bailey unquestionably possesses. There might, as father Butler continues to stress, be many more out of the Phoenix and they, too, should be considered, provided that they make the coach's cut.

All things considered, with the bottom line being, "Let us embrace the Butler crew", Foster's Fairplay asks that the route of mediation be sought. The search should be commenced to find some person with a powerful sporting nous and acceptable to both parties, to act as an arbiter in this distasteful impasse which is proving to be an obstacle to Butler's dream of winning the World Cup.

Wild dreams have been mooted before and have stood the test of time. Why not entertain another, especially since they have been underpinned by the waving of the 'I love Jamaica' flag?

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