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‘Sort it out, JFF!’ - Whitmore urges federation to avoid wage disputes with Reggae Boyz ahead of World Cup qualifying campaign

Whitmore urges federation to avoid wage disputes with Reggae Boyz ahead of World Cup qualifying campaign

Published:Friday | January 15, 2021 | 12:18 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Brian Brown (right) is taken down by Aruba’s Noah Harms in their Concacaf Nations League match at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, October 12, 2019.
Jamaica’s Brian Brown (right) is taken down by Aruba’s Noah Harms in their Concacaf Nations League match at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, October 12, 2019.
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With his attention solely focused on ending Jamaica’s two-decade wait for another FIFA World Cup finals appearance, national senior men’s football team head coach Theodore Whitmore says that he does not want a repeat of the payment negotiations that threatened to derail the November friendlies against Saudi Arabia.

A leaked recording detailed the contentious nature of the discussions between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and national defender Damion Lowe, who represented the players who arrived in Saudi Arabia without a deal in place. The JFF executive, led by President Michael Ricketts, has faced criticism for how the talks were handled and the perceived aggressive attitude displayed throughout the 20-minute recording.

The final round of the World Cup qualifiers is scheduled to begin in September, and Whitmore says that he has already indicated to the JFF that any negotiations regarding salaries for players must be dealt with as soon as possible.

NEEDS IMMEDIATE ATTENTION

“We have to get things done, like right now. I mentioned it earlier to the JFF,” Whitmore told The Gleaner. “We don’t want to carry on next month like this. We need to put all these negotiations and everything to rest from now so that when we are starting [the competitions], we are just concentrating on the task and we want to look on the bigger picture.

“The bigger picture is World Cup 2022 and it starts now.”

The November friendlies were intended to be used as preparation for a busy year, which involves the qualifiers and the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament this July. However, the series was reportedly at risk of being called off if the players’ proposal of US$2,000 (J$287,000) per game was not met.

JFF General Secretary Dalton Wint told The Gleaner recently that solidifying the payment structure for players would be a priority for 2021, given the major assignments that the Reggae Boyz will be tasked with. Whitmore says that finalising long-term contracts ahead of those competitions will be critical in ensuring that there are no more distractions for the players as they prepare for the eight-team final-round tournament.

Former national assistant Bradley Stewart said that the continuous pattern of payment disputes presents a problem that can affect the overall performance of the senior programme if the ongoing problems are not resolved.

“I would hope that this doesn’t happen as often as it has happened,” Stewart said. “It makes the comfort levels among our players less than adequate. If we want to get good results, then we need to have a good system in place where people are committed to delivering the highest quality of service to the players.”

Jamaica are ranked 47th in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World ranking.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com