Kingston, 19 February 2021 – Earlier today, February 19, 2021, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, convened a meeting with Mr. Michael Ricketts, President, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Mr. Christopher Williams and Mr. Donovan White, Chairman and Director respectively of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), and Mrs. Suzzette Ison, Principal Director, Sports Policy Development and Monitoring in the Ministry, to provide guidance on the way forward for the resumption of the Jamaica Premier League and the JFF National programmes.
Minister Grange used the opportunity to set the JFF straight on the process and protocols, as since the announcement of the return of play, there have been a number of conflicting and/or inaccurate comments that have been highlighted in numerous media reports.
Minister Grange, in providing guidance to both the JFF and the PFJL, made it clear that the convening of an unauthorised football camp by the JFF in January and the resultant positive COVID-19 tests returned by players that were camped, have significantly impacted the Government’s delay in granting approval for football.
In outlining the way forward for the Jamaica Premier League to have the Government’s approval to commence training, Minister Grange made it clear that the process must be followed and that there can be no physical gathering of the clubs or the national teams for training until approvals are granted by the Director General of ODPEM after first submitting an application through the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
“I was very disappointed with the breach which has led to the delay of the restart of football but I am hoping that with this meeting, in which I spoke frankly and we came to a clear understanding, going forward, there will be no misunderstanding. This is a very serious matter, in light of the community spread of COVID-19, and all our actions have consequences.
Therefore, no one can take unilateral decisions to commence training or competition because the action of any person or organisation can directly impact the players and the country in general. I know these are difficult times, so let us work together to overcome the challenges.”
President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Michael Ricketts welcomed the meeting and gave the commitment of the JFF to follow the process and do what is required as outlined by the Government.
The PFJL Chairman, Christopher Williams, said, “I, on behalf of all 12 Premier League Clubs am committed to full adherence of the process outlined and await the approval of our application which was submitted by the Ministry to the Director General. Our stakeholders – players, coaches and administrators are feeling severe pain and suffering having not worked for 11 months and we are wary of the potential negative social impact this can have on the society.”
Donovan White, Director of PFJL also assured the Minister that, “The PFJL remains in full preparation for the government’s approval and subsequent League restart. The Clubs have already advanced all registration requirements with the JFF Registration guidelines, as well as the professional Club licensing regime for CONCACAF League qualification. Our new commercial and corporate partners are also in a heightened state of readiness for the go-ahead to be given.”