‘Taxi’ contemplates retirement
The ongoing stalemate between the national senior players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is leading national defender Kemar 'Taxi' Lawrence to contemplate his international future beyond the 2022 World Cup campaign.
In a recent YouTube interview with Radio Jamaica's Simon Preston, Lawrence discussed his current season at his Belgian club Anderlecht, including the reasons behind his four-month absence prior to the start of the season, as well the various issues holding up the completion of negotiations between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and some of the senior men's team.
Despite various counter-offers from both parties, a resolution has not been reached since discussions began in late January. Lawrence outlined that the issues were beyond monetary compensation, as they are also requesting improvements in travel for games as well as getting additional staff, which includes physiotherapists and an equipment manager. With discussions still at an impasse, Lawrence says that while hopeful and determined to help Jamaica qualify for the tournament in Qatar, he may stay away from international football if they are not successful.
Same goal in mind
"Everybody on this team has the same goal in mind, every single player is (looking) to the World Cup now. We have the team now to go to the World Cup, and we know it's only one way it (gets) messed up. Either way, hopefully, God's willing, we make it to the World Cup and I get to play my first World Cup," Lawrence said. "But either way, after that, if we don't make it, I'm just going to retire from international football. Hopefully from there, me and maybe some older players we can get together and build a union to help the boys."
Some of the senior players were unavailable for the March 25 friendly against the United States because of the current stalemate. After their US $ 7,000 was rejected, the players are now seeking US $ 3,000 per game for the World Cup qualifiers. In a Gleaner interview on March 21, JFF Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid said that there were still disagreements on some issues, despite making an improvement on the offer.
While acknowledging that the situation is not ideal, Lawrence says that the team just wants a sufficient platform to break the country's World Cup appearance drought.
"We never asked for perfection. What we are saying is, give us something to work with and we will work with it. Give us a chance for people (not) to say that the JFF messed this up," Lawrence said. "Make me be able to take the responsibility and I will take the licks in my back and say, you know what, as a team, we should have done better. Make we, as players, say that we don't have anyone to blame. We have to go out there and perform."
The 2022 World Cup qualifiers are scheduled to begin in September.