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Reggae Girlz contract conflict - Mixed reports as JFF, W’ Cup-bound team seek agreement

Published:Sunday | March 10, 2019 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Marlo Sweatman of Jamaica walks to take a corner kick during the international women’s friendly match against Chile at the National Stadium on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Sweatman scored, and Jamaica won 1-0.
Head coach of Jamaica’s senior women’s team Hue Menzies (left) and assistant coach Lorne Donaldson.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is at the centre of another contract dispute, this time with coaches and players of the national senior women’s team, the Reggae Girlz, with the coaches denying claims made by president Michael Ricketts that contracts have already been presented to the players and their coaches.

Ricketts yesterday told The Gleaner that the JFF is awaiting responses from the coaches – Hue Menzies, the head coach, as well as ­assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price while noting that they have already ­concluded negotiations and presented offers to the players.

“Contracts were sent on Friday to them (coaches),” said Ricketts. “The players’ contracts were done face-to-face, based on suggestion by the coach. So those have been taken care of and we have sent them off, so we are just waiting on a response from them.”

In reference to the coaches and their agreements, Ricketts noted that adjustments had been made to the original proposals made by the coaches, noting that affordability is an issue for the federation.

“What was suggested by the coaches for the players had been agreed, but we were forced to have made some changes to those [contracts] for the coaches. We would love for them to agree with the changes we have made, but it’s up to them, because we can’t agree to what we can’t afford,” said Ricketts. “They (coaches) should be satisfied, as affordability is an issue and we can’t sign a contract if we can’t pay. So we made adjustments to those contracts for the coaches, and we are waiting on them to respond.”

However, the coaches, who have been guiding the team, which recently secured a historic qualification to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, since 2015 without compensation, have stated that no contract has been received and that they were not aware of any negotiations between the JFF and the players.

Menzies, through a spokesperson, along with Donaldson and Price, confirmed that no contract has been received, with the head coach expressing concern that with the tournament less than three months away, some members of the team are demoralised and might accept other opportunities, given the lack of guarantees.

“We, as a coaching staff, haven’t received a contract. I don’t know where all this information is coming from, but to make it clear, we haven’t receive any contract, there is no such thing. Coaches or players haven’t receive any contract,” said Donaldson, who, like Menzies, is based overseas.

“We, as a coaching staff, met, and we haven’t received a contract, and I am not aware that they (JFF) were negotiation with the players, either. We had to do that when we were in Jamaica (for friendly matches against Chile), and that wasn’t done, so there has not been any kind of negotiations,” Donaldson added.

The JFF will receive a minimum of US$9.5 million dollars (J$1.2 billion) for the team’s qualification to the World Cup, US$1.5 million (J$190 million) of which will be issued prior to the start of the tournament to help with preparations.

“We have qualified for the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean we are awash with cash. We are still struggling with all the camps and such; we have a huge shortfall. So the coaches must understand that we are not going to go overboard, and we can’t pay. We have made changes, and we are waiting on them,” Ricketts maintained.

However, Donaldson, who underlined that the issue has not caused any bad blood between the parties, noted that the coaches have not made an unreasonable request and are hoping that things can be settled soon.

“I wouldn’t call it frustrating, because our thing, as coaches, is to ensure that the players are looked after in a timely and professionally manner. It has been long overdue, and we need some clarity and transparency on that issue because there is no clarity,” Donaldson said.

“We have worked over four years, but there is no compensation, and everybody said we are crazy for not being compensated. But we were just showing it (World Cup qualification) can be done if we put time and effort in it, so compensation for the coaches would be a good bonus.

“But our coaches will not try to break the bank. We understand the situation the JFF’s in, but I think we have to be transparent. We are not trying to put something on the JFF that they can’t afford; we understand the culture and what’s going on, and we are not that kind of people. We love the country too much to put that kind of pressure on them. But we would love this to go away so we can focus on the task at hand, which is to do our best at the World Cup and make our country proud,” he said.

The JFF was faced with similar issues with national senior men’s head coach Theodore Whitmore last season before that matter was resolved following intervention by Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.