Adrian Frater | JFF needs to come clean on Tappa
As a patriotic Jamaican, I want to support the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) because, after seeing how Jamaica's profile has lifted globally following our historic qualification for the 1998 World Cup in France, I am of the belief that, in the words of dancehall star Beenie Man, "if we dweet already, we can dweet again".
Unfortunately, I am not sure if the current JFF administration understands its awesome responsibilities and what needs to be done to build on the foundation which was carefully and meticulously laid through proactive leadership by former administrators such as former general secretary Horace Reid and former president, the late Captain Horace Burrell.
The new administration, which features experienced campaigners such as current president Michael Ricketts, and vice-president Bruce Gaynor, seems either unprepared or overwhelmed by the prospects of facing the future without having the coat-tail of Captain Burrell to shield them from the prying eyes of a demanding public and the inquisitive inquiries from the media.
Personally, I am getting annoyed, if not angered, by the gymnastics the JFF appears to be playing in regard to offering a proper contract to interim coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, whose patience must be running out, albeit that his undying love and commitment to Jamaica's football cannot be seriously challenged or questioned.
It now appears clear that the JFF is on a misinformation campaign, as while it is claiming that it is in negotiation with Whitmore and is close to reaching a deal, the reality, based on my own investigations, which I consider irrefutable, is that the federation and Whitmore are not in any form of negotiation and are no closer to a deal than the day Whitmore accepted the job after former coach Carl Brown rejected it.
As a number of respected voices in sports, including former reggae boy Fitzroy Simpson, have been stating publicly, the JFF appears to be hell-bent on disrespecting Whitmore by seeking to compensate him like a federation's gardener, rather than a respected national coach - one who has done far better than some of the coaches who came here and pocketed huge sums for minimal results.
Based on a well-informed source, Whitmore is asking for less than half of the US$45,000 (J$5.6 million) to US$50,000 (J$6.3 million), which was paid to the likes of Velibor 'Bora' Milutinovic and Winfried Schaefer, but instead of gleefully accepting and moving on, the JFF seems not to be ready to offer the man who has brought so much glory to Jamaica as a player, and as a coach, more than the token US$3,000 (J$376,000) which is bandied about in public, which in my opinion is a sick joke.
Since the JFF appears to be doing very little beside hiding behind words, which appears more deceptive than substantive, I am calling on Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange to use her good office to have words with the JFF about coming up with a proper compensation package for Whitmore. I do not believe the government should stand by and allow a man who now wears the nation's OD (Order of Distinction) badge to be treated like a common boy.
I remember when Carl Brown rightly rejected the JFF's offer to come on board as an interim coach for a disrespectful US$100 a day fee, and in desperation, the federation turned to Whitmore. I was among the persons who publicly urged the former Reggae Boy not to take the offer. However, being the patriot he is, he took the job and defied the odds, enjoying much success.
I strongly believe that if the current JFF leadership had just a quarter of the gusto Captain Burrell had, in terms of his capacity to feed off a good situation, its top leaders would be out there pressing to get corporate Jamaica to work out a decent salary package for Whitmore. The respect that Whitmore now enjoys nationally is probably only second to what Rene Simoes had during the peak of the France '98 qualifying campaign.
While I basically campaigned to have Ricketts lead the JFF because I was worried about the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association arresting national football, I am not going to accept any foolishness from Ricketts and his team. If the best they can do is take overseas trips, I would suggest they quickly step aside because what we need are good leaders with the ability to build a credible football product.