Mon | Oct 25, 2021

JFF, Boyz still in contract talks

Published:Wednesday | March 3, 2021 | 12:10 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Reggae Boyz striker Leon Bailey (left) celebrates with Devon Williams (partially hidden) and Shamar Nicholson during Jamaica’s Concacaf Nations League match against Antigua and Barbuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Friday, September 6, 2019. Jamai
Reggae Boyz striker Leon Bailey (left) celebrates with Devon Williams (partially hidden) and Shamar Nicholson during Jamaica’s Concacaf Nations League match against Antigua and Barbuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Friday, September 6, 2019. Jamaica won 6-0.

With six months to go before the start of the final round of the regional World Cup qualifiers, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts says that he is optimistic that a resolution will be reached with the senior men’s national...

With six months to go before the start of the final round of the regional World Cup qualifiers, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts says that he is optimistic that a resolution will be reached with the senior men’s national team regarding their contract situation.

Initial discussions between the federation and more than 20 senior players began in January to secure long-term deals for the players ahead of a critical year for the programme, which include the qualifiers, which start in September, and the 2021 Gold Cup tournament, which begins in July.

Additionally, Jamaica will have three weeks to prepare for their first international match of 2021 against the United States in Austria on March 25.

The negotiations come in light of the dispute which occurred last November during the two-match series against Saudi Arabia regarding remuneration for the games, as well as a leaked recording that revealed the tense talks between the two parties.

Ricketts said although the discussions have been more challenging than anticipated, he was hopeful of a resolution to the matter.

“In fact, it’s proving a bit more difficult than we thought it would have been, but the process continues and we are just hopeful and very optimistic than in very short order, that we are able to add some signatures to these contractual arrangements,” Ricketts said. “But as it is now, the negotiations are still ongoing.”

Senior men’s head coach Theodore Whitmore had reiterated his desire to see all outstanding issues tied up to prevent any distractions in a crucial year for the team. During the series against Saudi Arabia, the players reportedly indicated their unwillingness to take the field unless their remuneration proposal was met.

“There is a committee/task force that was tasked with leading the negotiations. The reports seem to be positive, but we still cannot put a timeline [as] to when these contracts will be signed,” Ricketts added. “We are just hopeful. It is now completely up to the players. We are hoping that good sense will prevail and that the contracts will be signed.”

Meanwhile, the Reggae Boyz released a statement on Monday regarding the talks and said that they are committed to the World Cup-qualifying campaign, as well as reaching an “amicable solution with the JFF” on the deals.

“The players, upon request by the JFF, through their attorney, were asked to keep details of the current negotiations confidential. The players are therefore exercising this responsibility and will not dishonour that request,” the statement read. “They look forward to continuing meaningful discussions with the JFF around a number of outstanding issues, including, but not limited to, match remuneration.”

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com