Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Unvaccinated fans face WCQ stadium ban

Published:Sunday | August 1, 2021 | 1:34 AMLivingston Scott - Sunday Gleaner Writer
JFF General Secretary Dalton Wint
JFF General Secretary Dalton Wint

GENERAL SECRETARY of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Dalton Wint, said local football stakeholders who want to attend the national senior team’s World Cup qualifying home matches must make a personal choice and vaccinate to make themselves eligible for entry to the match venue.

Since the return of sports locally, most activities have taken place without the element of spectators. The JFF is currently holding discussions with the Ministry of Sports to have at least 5,000 fans cheering the Reggae Boyz for home matches.

Wint said the Federation made the.proposal to assist the Government with its national vaccination drive; and they are firmly behind the suggestion that only vaccinated persons should be granted access to the National Stadium for the qualifiers.

Protect the Jamaican people

“We are having discussions with the minister of sport and what we want to do is use the football to ensure that we have a safe Jamaica. We have to protect the Jamaican people so if it means that for persons to enter the stadium they have to be fully vaccinated it is something that we will fully support,” said Wint.

“Also we want to have the 12th man in the stadium, so this is a dual purpose to get the (crowd) support and to support the quest to get our population vaccinated,” he added.

He said that the idea is under serious consideration, but if they choose to go with that requirement, it is a choice individuals will have to make if they want to be present at the games.

“They (Government) are in full support of us trying to give support to the Government in trying to get the country vaccinated. But it is a democratic country and we understand that not everyone will support this. But it is optional,” Wint reasoned.

“If you decide that you don’t want to get vaccinated and don’t want to attend the stadium it is not something that is mandated, but it is a choice that you will have to make. It is something that we are seriously considering, but we are trying to ensure that we do not leave anyone behind, so it is something that we are examining and discussing,” he divulged.

Molynes United FC’s assistant coach, Andre Daley, declared publicly that he would not be taking the vaccine because of underlying health reasons. He said it would be unfair to those who do not want to miss out on watching the team at the stadium, but could be forced to do so because they are not vaccinated.

Daley also argued that many people who are not yet vaccinated do not fall in the categories prioritised and that would be unfair, so being unvaccinated was not a choice. Thus, he pointed out that there are a variety of reasons why a person may not be vaccinated and that accommodation should be made for these fans.

“I do not think it is fair for the public at large. I definitely would love to attend the games,” he argued. “The stadium is divided into multiple sections, so I think they should have a section for the people who are vaccinated. For example, they can be in the grandstand and the others could be in the bleachers.

“The majority of the nation is not vaccinated and (it is) not because they don’t want to. Even schoolboys who are not vaccinated would love to go and watch the games as well. So they (JFF) should arrange for the vaccinated persons to be in the grandstand. The bleachers is a bigger side of the stadium so they could use that for the unvaccinated persons,” he suggested.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com