Sun | Dec 5, 2021

‘Sabotage!’

Speid expresses anger at Local Government Ministry’s decision not to allow spectators for Jamaica-USA game

Published:Thursday | October 28, 2021 | 3:59 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
The National Stadium in Kingston, the venue for Jamaica’s home fixtures in FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
The National Stadium in Kingston, the venue for Jamaica’s home fixtures in FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
SPEID
SPEID
Jamaica’s Shamar Nicholson (right) in action against Panama during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium in Kingston on Sunday, September 5.
Jamaica’s Shamar Nicholson (right) in action against Panama during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium in Kingston on Sunday, September 5.
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Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid describes the Government’s decision not to allow spectators inside the National Stadium for the Reggae Boyz’s upcoming World Cup qualifying game against the United States...

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid describes the Government’s decision not to allow spectators inside the National Stadium for the Reggae Boyz’s upcoming World Cup qualifying game against the United States of America (USA) as sabotage.

The Ministry of Local Government said that the decision was made after examining the logistics of allowing fully vaccinated patrons into the stadium.

“We examined the possibility of allowing fully vaccinated spectators to attend the November 16 game and concluded that given our delicate stage of managing the pandemic, as well as the extensive logistical inputs needed to ensure that only vaccinated persons enter the venue, it was simply not practical to give the green light for public access to this game,” the ministry said. “However, discussions will continue regarding the possibility of allowing vaccinated spectators into the ‘Office,’ (as the stadium is called for Reggae Boyz games) for the following World Cup qualifying match against Mexico on January 27, 2022.”

Speid says that while other local industries and sports are being allowed to function in the pandemic, the national team is getting what he considers a raw deal.

“We (JFF) said fans should be vaccinated, so we can’t see what the problem is,” Speid said. “Every other industry in the country is allowed to have their thing going, with customers coming in, but we cannot have anybody.

“We are extremely disappointed as what they are doing is sabotaging the programme. We cannot make any money, and they are not giving us any, and the programme will collapse if we do not have any money.

“Home ground is suppose to give you an advantage, but when we play, it’s like we are training. So it seems like it is only us under punishment as every other country is allowing spectators. We are the only one not allowing spectators, and a lot of those countries are worse off than us. So it makes no sense that we cannot have spectators.”

Speid said that the JFF had been making all the necessary preparations to secure the approval, and he believes that the JFF was more than capable of managing the event.

“All the bases were covered, everything would have been in place,” he said. “I have heard them say they cannot have spectators because they can’t confirm who’s vaccinated.

“But there are over 200,000 people vaccinated (nationally) so you could have had a list. So none of it adds up. It makes no sense, and only football appears to be getting this sort of fight.

“Now if we do not win this round, what’s the sense we are going to use spectators in the other games for?

“It makes no sense how the people who came up with this decision when every country in the region is having spectators apart from Jamaica.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com