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Disappointing end - Menzies walks away from Reggae Girlz after lengthy JFF dispute, Donaldson uncertain of his future

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2019 | 12:28 AMAndrÈ Lowe/Sports Editor

Six months after leading Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz into their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup match, head coach Hue Menzies has decided to walk away from the programme after a protracted dispute with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) over unpaid wages and reimbursements.

Menzies, whose contract with the JFF expired in August, had been awaiting word from the federation on his status with the programme but says he can no longer tolerate the uncertainty around his future.

The 55-year-old told The Gleaner that he is extremely disappointed with the development while blasting the JFF for what he described as a lack of respect and poor communication.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate because we put so much time and created some history. It’s not just a football job it’s more than football. So obviously, I am very disappointed in how the federation communicated – well in the lack of communication,” said Menzies.

“We have a business to run here and things to do, so I really can’t just be on the fence trying to figure out what I am doing without any type of communication, so I decided to step down,” Menzies added.

Menzies, who is yet to officially communicate his decision to the JFF, something he expects to do today, admitted that it was a difficult decision for him to step away. He also noted that he will still be pursuing the monies owed to him by the federation for unpaid salaries and for personal funds spent during the team’s successful FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign, which were also at the centre of his dispute with the administration.

“I didn’t want to leave the players, but at the end of the day, I have to take care of some things here that’s actually paying my bills because I still have not been paid by the JFF, and they still owe me money for reimbursements, so without any type of communication, we just can’t operate like that,” Menzies shared. “Contractually, we were finished back in August, and we still haven’t been paid yet. We were told that the FIFA money would come in and help pay us, but we haven’t heard anything, so I have personally made my decision to step down and pursue other things that I have been putting off.

NO JFF UPDATE

“I haven’t updated the JFF because they have not responded to me. I reached out to the president to call me, and he has not called me. I told them that in 24 hours I would make a decision; nobody has reached out to me.

Menzies had not taken charge of the team since last summer’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, boycotting the Girlz’s Caribbean Football Union Olympic qualifiers in September, with his assistant Lorne Donaldson taking charge of the team for that tournament.

Meanwhile, Donaldson, who himself did not commit to the programme, questioned the federation’s seriousness about women’s football, adding that he was saddened by Menzies’ decision.

“It leaves me to believe that as a country, there isn’t a lot of interest in women’s football. The rest of the world is looking at us as a country with a lot of potential. It’s sad that Menzies has to step away. I have a lot of respect for Menzies, we all do, but as coaches, there is only so much we can do. I haven’t made a decision on anything,” Donaldson told The Gleaner. “There are a lot of issues that need to be sorted out. We have to look at it as a group, as a staff, and see if there is interest from the federation.”

NO COMMENTS

When contacted last night, JFF general secretary Dalton Wint said he could not comment on the development until he receives official communication from Menzies.

Of note, JFF president Michael Ricketts recently indicated that the federation was looking at other options and that Menzies’ role in the team could change – a suggestion that did not go down well with Menzies.

“I don’t know why they would want to do that (change his role in team),” Menzies said at the time. “I have no idea. But they (JFF) don’t communicate, and that’s their problem. They haven’t communicated with me at all.”

Menzies and the JFF have had a tumultuous relationship, with the coach frequently calling for greater support and organisation from the organisation. He recently sided with the Reggae Girlz during their threat to strike owing to unpaid monies and is reportedly seen as an ally of Reggae Girlz patron Cedella Marley, who has had a few disputes with the JFF hierarchy herself.

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com