• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Cedella Marley slams Jamaica FA, quits over player treatment


Jan 7, 2024 #Sports


Cedella Marley has resigned from her role as the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) global women’s football ambassador in protest to how the organisation has treated Jamaica‘s women’s team — the Reggae Girlz.

Jamaica’s players are still waiting for their full payment from the historic 2023 World Cup campaign, with Marley criticising the JFF in a statement saying it has responded to complaints by continuing to “malign, mistreat and vilify” the Reggae Girlz. She adds the JFF has done this “by fostering a blatantly false narrative in the media with no regard for the potential impact on the players or the program itself.”

– Hamilton: Jamaica’s struggle for equality and respect at World Cup

Marley has long been the champion of the Reggae Girlz and helped get the team back together in 2014 after it was disbanded in 2008. She helped fund their 2019 and 2023 World Cup campaigns through the Bob and Rita Marley Foundation, a charity named after her parents, alongside business partners. Together they invested more than $2.75 million into the growth and development of women’s football in Jamaica. But she has grown increasingly frustrated at the JFF’s treatment of the Reggae Girlz.

The players said after the 2019 World Cup they did not receive their agreed payment for the tournament and started a “No Pay, No Play” social media campaign. Four years on, Jamaica reached the knockout stages of the 2023 World Cup, despite difficulties in the build-up to the tournament with the JFF.

After their historic run to the round of 16, in October, the players announced they would not play in upcoming internationals against Panama and Guatemala, taking the “drastic stance” to bring an end to “constant mistreatment” from the JFF.The players said they were waiting for their full payments from the tournament, while they said they only learnt of the appointment of new head coach Xavier Gilbert on social media.

The JFF responded by suspending the players in question and said it was “uncomfortable with the response of the players and the non-attendance of the player representatives to a scheduled meeting”.

Marley – who the players see as their “fairy godmother,” according to international Chinyelu Asher — has grown exasperated at the players’ treatment at the hands of the JFF and issued a statement saying she felt the JFF is “neither receptive nor interested” in her “manner of support.”

“As the Ambassador for the women’s programme and a fellow Jamaican, I must express my disappointment and growing concern with the way the team has been treated, especially in recent months,” Marley said in a statement.

“The Reggae Girlz’ patriotism, professionalism and performance has won them fans and favour all over the world. Yet the organisation that has gained the most [in wealth and public standing] from this continues to malign, mistreat and vilify them at every opportunity by fostering a blatantly false narrative in the media with no regard for the potential impact on the players or the program itself. The longer this agenda is allowed to advance unchecked, the more the future of women’s football in Jamaica is jeopardised.

“With that in mind, I have decided that I can no longer associated myself or my family’s name with any organization that would oppress and manipulate the very ones they have a responsibility to support and uplift. Effective immediately, I am resigning from my role as ambassador.”

Marley will continue investing in women’s football in Jamaica, the region and the diaspora through her “Football is Freedom” initiative. She signs off the statement by saying: “To my Reggae Girlz, you know that we are family for life, and I am here for you forever!”

Michael Ricketts, JFF president, responded to Marley’s statement saying: “I am saddened by the unfortunate decision of Miss Marley to cut ties with the Women’s Program at this time. We believed we had made significant progress in our discussions, and we were eagerly awaiting the World Cup players to confirm their availability. We must thank Miss Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation for their unwavering support over the years. We want to assure her that the progress we have made will be solidified as we move forward.”

JFF vice-president Raymond Anderson, who is challenging Ricketts for the presidency of the JFF, said: “This resignation casts a long shadow of mistrust over the current JFF administration. It is now clear that there has been a deliberate effort to discredit our two-time World Cup-qualifying Reggae Girlz. This squad, a beacon of hope and pride for our nation, has been let down. In just three months, the JFF has managed to undo what took Cedella Marley and everyone involved a decade to build.”


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