The Marleys have withdrawn their collective support for the Jamaica Reggae Girlz football team in what seems to be a protest against the management of the football federation.
On Thursday, Cedella Marley, who was appointed Global Ambassador for the team, announced that she was resigning her position effective immediately. Cedella had worked with the struggling football team since 2014 when the Jamaica Football Federation wanted to scrap the team. Over the years, Marley has helped to raise funds and assist the team and was largely credited as the one behind the team qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup final stage for the first time in history.
Since then, the team members have been at odds with the JFF, who they accused of holding onto winning funds, and the footballers had to pay their funds to travel and be at games.
In her resignation, Cedella said her departure was because of a conflict between her and the JFF, as the latter was “neither receptive nor interested” in her manner of support.
“I must express my disappointment and growing concern with the turn things have taken in recent months. After the World Cup, I was under the impression that we all were committed to working together to build on that success. However, the ever-widening rift between the JFF and the team is very alarming. Numerous overtures to each of you to voice my concern and try to assist with a resolution, continue to be met with noncommittal, generic response,” Marley said.
She also revealed that she and Captain Horace Burrell had been working with the team, including many talented and patriotic Jamaicans. She also raised funds from the Bob and Rita Marley Foundations and other partners to the tune of US $2.7 million to develop the team.
Her resignation follows the JFF’s decision in October 2023 to suspend senior squad selection days before a Women’s Gold Cup qualifier against Panama.
The action was taken in response to the Reggae Girlz’s refusal to play until outstanding payment obligations were made. Each player is due U$30,000 for making it into the round of 16 during the Reggae Girlz 1-0 to Colombia game in the summer.
According to Cedella, her goal was to work with the federation to build a solid women’s program.
“The results of this work speak for themselves as the Reggae Girlz have gone on to literally make history – not once, not twice but repeatedly,” she said.
Despite her resignation, Marley said she would continue to support the Reggae Girlz via the Football is Freedom initiative.
In the meantime, the Bob and Rita Foundation also revealed that it was withdrawing its funding from the JFF partnership to re-direct the financing of other initiatives, a statement said.
“We have been privileged to witness the growth and development of women’s football in Jamaica, and we are proud of the achievements and progress that have been made during our collaboration,” the statement said.
It added, “However, as circumstances change and our foundations evolve, we must reassess our priorities and the impact of our funding on various causes and organizations. In light of our revised focus and funding priorities, we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer continue our financial support of the JFF programme.”
The foundation also committed private funding under the Football is Freedom initiative like Cedella.
In the meantime, JFF president Michael Ricketts also shared regrets that the Marleys were cutting ties with JFF.
“I am saddened by the unfortunate decision of Miss Marley to cut ties with the women’s programme at this time. This is even more so as we are of the view that we have made significant progress in the discussions and are just awaiting the World Cup players to come back to us and advise us of their availability. We must thank Miss Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation for all the support that they have given over time. We want to assure her that the gains that have been made will be concretised as we move into the future,” a release from JFF said.
See Cedella Marley’s statement in full:
Next month will mark ten years since my youngest son brought home a flyer from his soccer coach about the U20 Reggae Girls. That flyer was the impetus for my initial query into women’s football and all of the amazing things that have happened since [Captain] Burrell first shared his vision and asked me to work alongside him as Global Ambassador for the Jamaica Women’s Football programme. When I accepted the role I pledged that I would “bring help, I will bring support; I will bring funds, and I will do all within my power to make sure that our senior reggae girls get what is possible for the campaign to the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
Sin[c]e 2014, the joint support of the Bob and Rita Marley Foundations along with a list of great partners has allowed for us to invest more than US$2.75 million dollars in the growth and development of Jamaican women’s football. We have worked diligently with the Federation to build a solid women’s programme. The results of this work speak for themselves as the Reggae Girlz have gone on to literally make history- not once… not twice, but repeatedly.
That being said, I must express my disappointment and growing concern with the turn things have taken in recent months. After the world cup. I was under the impression that we all were committed to working together to build on that success. However, the ever-widening rift between the JFF and the team is very alarming. Numerous overtures to each of you to voice my concern and try to assist with a resolution continue to be met with noncommittal, generic response.
The current state of affairs leads me to conclude that the federation is neither receptive to nor interested in my current manner of support. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as Global Ambassador, effective immediately.
Going forward, I will continue to support the development of Jamaican women’s football under the Football is Freedom initiative.”