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Deadlock broken - Bailey, Butler set to accept national call-up

Published:Thursday | May 9, 2019 | 12:29 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Phoenix Academy founder Craig Butler (centre) and standout players, his sons Leon Bailey (left) and Kyle Butler.
Phoenix Academy founder Craig Butler (centre) and standout players, his sons Leon Bailey (left) and Kyle Butler.

There seems to be a resolution in sight in the ongoing saga between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and Phoenix Academy’s founder, Craig Butler, regarding the availability of his sons, Leon Bailey and Kyle Butler, for national selection.

The older Butler, who also manages the affairs of the pair, told The Gleaner in an interview yesterday, that both midfielders would now accept the JFF’s invitation to the represent the country at upcoming assignments.

Bailey has been invited to the squad for the June 5 friendly international against the United States in Washington, DC, and the Concacaf Gold Cup while Butler has been invited to be a part of the U23 squad for the Olympic Games qualifiers.

“I am pleased to say that if the boys are invited, I will be more than happy to encourage them to go and represent their country,” said the Phoenix Academy patriarch.

“It is always a pleasure and an honour to represent one’s country. It has always been my intention that if my sons are good enough, then they should represent the country,” he added.

Bailey, who currently plies his trade for German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, had accepted an invitation for the Concacaf Nations League game against Bonaire last October but had a last-minute change of heart.

Bailey told The Gleaner in October that he changed his mind after a meeting with the federation. According to him, the JFF went back on their word after previously agreeing to certain terms for him to play. The sticking point concerned Bailey’s brother, Butler.

Trial disagreement

The federation wanted to put the latter on trial, but Bailey believed that a professional player such as Butler should not have to go through the scrutiny of a trial, when others playing at a lower level are not required to do so.

However, Butler noted that the issues between him and the JFF have now been sorted out following consultation with the minister of sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, as well as the president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda.

“In recent times, there have been cordial relations between the Jamaica Football Federation and our organisation and the management of Leon Bailey and Kyle Butler,” Butler said.

JFF president Michael Ricketts confirmed the developments.

“Leon Bailey will be called because the coach and I have had discussions recently, and he will be invited both for the friendly in the US and also for the Gold Cup tournament,” said Ricketts.

“I think that coach (Donovan) Duckie has interest for the brother (Kyle) for the Olympic squad because he did indicate to me that he has an interest in inviting him for the Olympic squad,” he said.

“We are looking forward to having them here, and we just hope that we will be able to put the past behind us and just restart the whole thing of just having him (Bailey) in the national set-up,” said Ricketts.

The Concacaf Gold Cup is set to begin on June 15 while the Olympic qualifier squad is expected to feature at the Pan Am Games in Peru, also in June.