We had no choice
Government blamed as Portmore, Waterhouse pull out of regional tournament
Stakeholders are laying the blame at the Government’s feet after top local clubs Waterhouse FC and Portmore United were forced to pull out of the 2021 FLOW Concacaf Caribbean Club Championships (FCCC), due to a lack of preparation as a result of the ongoing shutdown of the sport in the country because of COVID-19 safety restrictions.
The announcement was made yesterday meaning that there will be no Jamaican representation at the May 16 - 26 tournament, which is scheduled for the Dominican Republic.
A release from the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) said failure to get government approval for the sport’s return led to the clubs’ decision, adding that missing the tournament was a big setback for local football.
“Competition requires approval from the Jamaica government authorities. Clubs have not been able to benefit from consistent training, based on changes in the Disaster Risk Management Act that caused a break in training since late January,” said the PFJL.
“The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the PFJL have persisted in their numerous efforts to secure government approval for training and competition for the Jamaica Premier League ... As our teams have been inactive for more than a year, and with the FCCC weeks away, regrettably, Waterhouse FC and Portmore were left with no option other than to withdraw from this year’s tournament,” the PFJL release added.
Efforts to get a response from Minister of Sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, up to late yesterday evening were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, President of Waterhouse FC, Donovan White, lamented that the delay in the restart of local football, which has been suspended since March 2020, has crippled the financial earnings of the club and their ability the meet the demands to compete in the tournament.
“This decision is extremely unfortunate and a painful one. Our team has earned the right to participate and we really wished we could, but the combination of no return to play yet for football from the Government of Jamaica has stifled our ability to generate an income and has left us financially unable to make the huge commitments required to participate,” White said.
Portmore’s general manager, Clive Marshall, also pointed to the inability to train and compete locally as the main reasons behind his club’s decision.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to train and play for over a year due to the pandemic and the lack of approval from the Government,” said Marshall.
“The decision to withdraw was most difficult and painful. We’re devastated but we have to be prudent. Our players have suffered tremendously over the last 13 months. Players look forward to these international platforms to showcase their talents. It has proven very successful over the years in providing a pathway to the international club market,” Marshall added.
PFJL Chairman, Christopher Williams, warned that pulling out of the tournament was the first major repercussion of having no football for more than a year.
“It is inescapable for me not to point to the fact that this is the first of many dominoes that will befall the sport and our players locally, if we are not able to restart the Jamaica Premier League before the end of the 2021 season,” said Williams.
“This decision saddens the PFJL but we remain 100 per cent in support of their decision given the circumstances that have occasioned their pulling out of the most important regional tournament, that has realised much success for many of our clubs in years past,” he said.