Black Immigrant Daily News
The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has rubbished claims by national player Leon Bailey, that the local governing body has been giving him a fight since he was eight or nine years old and later contacted an embassy in an attempt to prevent him from getting a visa to travel overseas.
Bailey, who plays for Aston Villa in the English Premier League, and who has represented Jamaica 18 times while netting three goals, made the alarming claims in a recent interview.
He also accused the JFF of being a corrupt organisation.
During the interview, Bailey also sought to explain his belated decision to play for the Reggae Boyz.
“A my decision, everything wah me do was my decision. Me neva want to represent the country at that time, not because a wah nobody else seh. A lot of people don’t know seh from me about eight or nine me a get fight from the Jamaica federation. Top man inna the federation, till this day today cyaa look inna me eye,” Bailey said.
Continuing, he said: “Yeah, dem a fight me from me a likkle yute. Them even try block me from going to Europe. The man dem link embassy and dem thing deh, fi nuh mek me get visa. The last time me guh Europe a Cuba me affi fly to and get me visa, enuh. The man dem block every embassy a Jamaica suh we nuh get the visa fi cut (leave), enuh, and this a some 12-year-old (Leon Bailey) who a try mek it”.
“Not true”, says the JFF in a lengthy rebuttal on Tuesday.
The JFF, in a statement, began by pointing out that it has taken note of the interview by Bailey, which has been circulating on social media.
The JFF said it tried not to comment on the matter as it was hoping that it would be handled internally.
“(But) based on the comments received from the public and stakeholders, we have been forced to comment publicly. We want to say that it is quite unfortunate that these comments were made, and in such a public manner, as we had hoped that we have arrived at a place where any disagreements are handled internally,” said the JFF.
“It is also unfortunate that Leon has felt this way about the JFF, especially while playing for the Jamaica national team and not expressing it…” the statement from the JFF added.
The statement noted that Bailey implied that the efforts to block his progress were as a result of his relationship with Craig Butler, who, according to media reports over the years, adopted Bailey and is responsible for the development of his career from the time he was at the Butler-founded Phoenix Academy.
It was Butler who took Bailey to Europe where his talents were further developed at Genk Academy after which he became a much sought-after player in Europe.
During the interview, Bailey implied that the same situation relates to another outstanding youth player, Dujuan ‘Whisper’ Richards, who is conditioned at Phoenix Academy and plays for Kingston College in the Manning Cup. Richards is reportedly on his way to Genk with Butler at the end of the football season.
The JFF has brushed aside these claims in addition to the assertion by Bailey that if players do not play for certain clubs they do not get selected for the national team.
“This is quite unfortunate as the JFF has always seen Leon as an important member of the national team, and what he has said is baseless and is consistent with recent similar comments made, which we have called for evidence to be shared, either privately or publicly, so that we can act on it,” said the JFF.
Pointing out that to date no such evidence has been shared by Bailey, the JFF said: “It is not credible to make anecdotal accusations without evidence, and by doing so seek to damage the reputation of individuals and the JFF as an organisation. We also find it impractical that a child between eight and 12 years old would understand what the actions and motives of the JFF or any organisation would be, with any clear understanding as first-hand information”.
As to the claim that the local governing body colluded with an embassy to block attempts for Bailey to secure a visa, the JFF said this implied that the embassy is complicit with the JFF in acting as he implies in a “corrupt” manner.
“The JFF can assure everyone that we do not have that ability to influence a visa decision with any embassy, and we would never seek to intervene in such a process,” the statement stated.
“The JFF can categorically state that none of the accusations made in the interview are factual. However, if there is any evidence at all supporting these allegations, we ask again in this case that this be shared with the JFF so that it can be acted upon as any action as alleged is unacceptable and would be dealt with strongly by the JFF”.
In the meantime, the JFF said the matter has been referred to the team manager and coach for review, as they are the ones who deal with issues relating to the players and the team. He said the JFF also looks forward to receiving the evidence of the unfortunate allegations made.