‘I feel betrayed!’ - JFF boss responds to leaked tape, sets up committee to handle salary negotiations
President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Michael Ricketts, while noting that a committee has been established to handle future wage negotiations, admitted that he felt betrayed, after a recording of recent salary negotiations between Reggae Boyz captain Damion Lowe and high-ranking JFF officials was leaked online.
The association has been facing heavy criticism for the tone and approach of the JFF executives on the 20-minute recording, which included himself, General Secretary Dalton Wint, Vice-President Bruce Gaynor and Team Manager Roy Simpson.
Lowe was representing the members of the national senior men’s team, ahead of two friendly international matches against Saudi Arabia in November 2020, and had presented a requested fee of US$2,000 ($287,000) per player, per game. The JFF team countered with an offer of US$1,000 ($143,000) per match, which was rejected by Lowe, before another offer of US$1,500 ($215,000) was submitted by the JFF, which Lowe decided to discuss with team members.
Ricketts stated that he was shocked that their conversation with the Reggae Boyz defender was being recorded without their knowledge.
“The truth is that I am not perturbed about the voice note. I don’t think that there is anything in it for us to hide, but the only thing about it is that I felt betrayed because it was (recorded) and we didn’t know, and then eventually, it was leaked,” Ricketts said.
“I would think that if you are going to tape a conversation that I think is private and confidential, that we ought to have known that it is being taped,” he added.
Nevertheless, with the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers scheduled for this year, Ricketts told The Sunday Gleaner that it is very important that the JFF and players settle all differences and iron out their salary issues ahead of these assignments.
“We have done what no other federation has done, we have put a task force in place with some members of the JFF and one independent person, and the process has actually started,” said Ricketts.
“We want to ensure that when Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers come around, we have no issues. What we want to ensure is that when we are on the field, we have nothing else to think about or to worry about,” he said.
“We do hope that the players will understand the situation of the JFF and understand what affordability means and just let us sign,” Ricketts said.
He added that the names of the committee members will be made public shortly.
However, former chairman of the now-defunct Professional Football Association of Jamaica, Don Anderson, has warned the JFF that those tasked with negotiating with and on behalf of the players must be persons of good character or else the discussion will not bear any fruit.
“The question is that you have gone into these discussions with integrity and the interest of football at heart, and you have to make sure that the people who are negotiating on the behalf of the JFF are people of integrity,” said Anderson.
“If they are people who the players cannot trust for whatever reason, whether it is one person or four persons, then you are going to achieve the same thing, which is going to be a level of mistrust that is not going to be good for the negotiations,” he added.
After reports of players threatening not to take the field during the Saudi Arabia negotiations, the matter was eventually settled between the parties. The Boyz lost the first match 3-0 before rebounding to take the second 2-1.