Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Letter of the Day | JFF presidential poll a big deal!

Published:Thursday | September 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM


This weekend, a new head of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) will be chosen. For many years, our football programme consisted mainly of local competitions and a few international matches.

In 1994, the late Captain Horace Burrell became president. Burrell, a man with big ideas, took Jamaica's Reggae Boys to the finals of the World Cup in 1998 - a first for any English-speaking Caribbean nation. The feel-good factor in this country was incalculable.

Today, football is the world's most popular game. The top three clubs all have a value well in excess of US$3.5 billion. FIFA is the organisation that is in charge. FIFA's monetary influence is felt everywhere in the world. Its 209 members are located through grants and bonuses stemming from profits linked to the World Cup. FIFA is a multibillion-dollar corporation.

When Brazil hosted the most recent World Cup event, it was estimated that the economic impact could range from US$3 billion to US$14 billion. The tournament might have added nearly US$30 billion to that country's GDP between 2010 and 2014, generating 3.63 million jobs - annually - during that period and raising an additional US$8 billion in tax revenues.

I say all that to say this: We are talking about a big, sophisticated business that is far more than some men kicking balls. Football skill alone is not going to get us where we are able to go in this sport. The head of this organisation will, from time to time, be required to navigate a variety of economic, strategic, cultural, racial, and ideological currents. He will need, to make presentations to grant-making bodies and participate in the resolution of political and ethical issues.

Two critical prerequisites, therefore, are a clarity and comfort with legal matters and experience in diplomacy.

It is my hope that the envy and 'bad' mind that sometimes inform these events do not surface in making this important decision.