Sat | Mar 25, 2023

Government rethinks vaccine mandate

PFJL lauds positive response to JPL woes

Published:Wednesday | March 16, 2022 | 12:10 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Williams
Williams
From left: Dunbeholden’s Fabian McArthy looks on while Portmore United’s Rudolph Austin heads the ball away during a Jamaica Premier League match at Sabina Park on Monday.
From left: Dunbeholden’s Fabian McArthy looks on while Portmore United’s Rudolph Austin heads the ball away during a Jamaica Premier League match at Sabina Park on Monday.
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AFTER PLEADING with the Government to remove the vaccination requirement for spectators to be allowed entry to Jamaica Premier League (JPL) games and for community venues to be approved as hosts, chairman of Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), Christopher Williams, was pleased to disclose that he received a positive response from Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, and Minister of Sport, Youth and Culture, Olivia Grange.

Williams, who pointed to the financial impact of vaccination mandates for fans on national television on Saturday, said he was contacted by both ministers early Sunday morning.

The ministers, he said, acknowledged that they heard his cries for assistance and promised to work on a solution, which he hopes will be delivered this week after Parliament meets.

“Minister McKenzie and Minister Grange are the greatest,” said an enthused Williams. “The first thing Sunday morning when I woke up I had five missed calls because of my interview.

“I spoke to Minister McKenzie and Minister Grange and they will be working around the clock. The prime minister and the Cabinet will be giving serious considerations to our requests.

“They got the point. They understand and they are working to find solutions and will be making a decision this week,” he said.

REQUESTING APPROVAL OF COMMUNITY VENUES

Along with the removal of the vaccination requirement, the PFJL has also asked for approval of community venues, citing the unbearable cost to stage matches at the National Stadium and Sabina Park.

“They are looking at what we have asked them to give consideration to and they are considering removing the vaccination requirement and giving us more venues.

“Minister McKenzie said ‘Chris, I will find a solution for you’ and he is working on it and Minister Grange, the same thing. This is the type of leadership we want to see in the country, a government that is responsive to its constituents.

“So now we got positive, proactive feedback and they are working on it to find a solution,” he assured.

He added that the Government is pleased with the strides the league has made under the PFJL and insists they want to see it continue to grow and develop.

“He (McKenzie) wants spectators to come back and watch the games. He listened and heard the cries of how Sabina Park is expensive and how the fans cannot get in because they are not vaccinated.

“They heard about Drax Hall and how people had to be outside watching the game and couldn’t pay to come in because they had no vaccination. So he listened and said he understood and he is going to try and help and I really thank him for jumping at it.”

He added also that if both requests are granted and more community venues are approved and vaccinated or unvaccinated spectators are permitted to attend matches, he is confident that it will continue to enhance an already strong JPL product.

“They (ministers Grange and McKenzie) have come to our aid and I am really grateful. I feel good. If the decision goes our way this week, we will be looking very strong and the sponsors and spectators will be happy. So I want to thank the ministers for their proactive approach.

“If we get these requests, along with the coverage that we are having on television and radio, the league popularity will continue to soar.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com