Sat | Jul 11, 2020

JFF rues COVID-19 disruption

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2020 | 12:15 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Jourdaine Fletcher (front) turns with the ball away from Bermuda’s Reginald Lamb during their international friendly match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Wednesday, March 11. The game was played just a day after the nation officially discovered its first COVID-19 patient.
Jamaica’s Jourdaine Fletcher (front) turns with the ball away from Bermuda’s Reginald Lamb during their international friendly match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Wednesday, March 11. The game was played just a day after the nation officially discovered its first COVID-19 patient.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts says the global COVID-19 pandemic has severely hampered the development of the country’s football programmes.

The virus, with just under 260,000 cases recorded globally and just over 10,000 deaths worldwide, has forced the postponement of many top football leagues around the world.

The Red Stripe Premier League and the various lower-division competitions at the parish level were also suspended indefinitely, because of the deadly virus. The JFF also cancelled a friendly international game between its senior men’s team and hosts Catalonia of Spain, because of the spread of the virus and travel restrictions placed on that country. The Concacaf Under-17 Women’s Championship has also been postponed.

“It is affecting the football product itself, because we are not playing any football, and our overseas assignments, we have to be putting them on hold,” Ricketts said. “So it is affecting the football locally, and certainly at the international level.

“Our girls, by now, would have been in Mexico preparing for the Concacaf Under-17 World Cup qualifiers. We would be on our way now to look at some English-based players and then move over to Spain for our friendly match against Catalonia.”

Ricketts says that the JFF was also in talks for the Reggae Boyz to play a friendly match in the United States in June.

“We were having discussions for a high-profile game in June in New York, and that had to be put on hold,” he said. “This has set us back in a huge way, but it is a pandemic and it is affecting the entire world.”

He says the federation is continuing to monitor the situation, and he is urging all its players to take all the necessary precaution, to not contract the novel coronavirus.

“We are definitely going to have some catching up to do and, of course, we will now have to hastily get some games after we get permission from our parent organisation, and from the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” Ricketts said.

“For now, we are at a standstill and we just have to be very hopeful. I am pretty certain that, in a few days, the Government and Ministry of Health will be doing further assessments and will certainly advise us accordingly.”

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com