Adrian Frater | JFF guilty of dissing 'Tappa'
As I have stated in this column in the recent past, I desperately want Michael Ricketts, president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), to create a cohesive national programme because, based on the coaches and the players we now have at our disposal, we are clearly in a position to go places.
It is against that background that I must register my disappointment with the failure of the Federation to settle the contracts of head coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore and his deputy Jerome 'Jerry' Waite, who are clearly doing as good a job as any of the various foreign coaches we have employed since 1998.
When Whitmore was reinstalled as head coach after the disastrous Winfried Schafer experiment collapsed like a punch-drunk boxer in 2016, the former Reggae Boy quickly managed to restore credibility to our national programme. In fact, he did so well in a short time that, even some of those who had taken him to task in his previous stint at the helm, were among those calling on the JFF to give him and extended run.
As a true Jamaica patriot, who in the true spirit of our great ancestors put country first, Whitmore took on the job without even waiting to negotiate and sign a contract, ignoring the fact that he was treated badly in the past. However, instead of showing its appreciation for his commendable gesture, the JFF appears to be playing the fool in what appears to be a classic case of 'hide and seek' with his contract.
While the JFF is giving the public the impression that Whitmore's contract has been negotiated and settled and just needs to be signed, I have been reliably informed that, the man who scored twice in Jamaica's historic 2-1 win over Japan at the 1998 World Cup, is yet to set eyes on the contract, which to me is absolutely ridiculous since it required only a token effort to email it to him for his perusal.
In an article that appeared in the Gleaner on August 29, 2017, Bruce Gaynor, who was then serving as the interim president of the JFF, was quoted as saying, "One thing that we have always said, 'patience is a virtue.' Theodore Whitmore must be patient. He has done very well for us since he has been back as the national coach. This JFF, the one that I'm now leading, and the one that I will be a part of (next month), will come up with the best package for Whitmore.
In the same article, Gaynor further stated that, "the JFF is grateful to Whitmore. We are working on the best package for Theodore Whitmore. We don't want to throw one on him now, and tomorrow it can be better. The general secretary (Raymond Grant) is putting it together as we speak."
Roughly five months have elapsed since Gaynor made the statements above and unless the federation is trying to hoodwink Whitmore, I cannot see any good reason while he is yet to be presented with a copy of the contract, even to look at. The fact that Waite recently decided against signing his contract after seeing it for the first time, I rather suspect that we might ultimately see Whitmore doing the same thing.
I do not know what sum is being offered to Whitmore, but based on reports, the offer is substantially less than what he was getting during his previous stint in the position, which ended over five years ago. I understand that the offer that Waite walked away from was a mere $150,000 per month, which if true, was rightly rejected.
While I would not want Whitmore and Waite to push for a Schafer-like remuneration package because, as Jamaica, we would want them to give us the best deal possible, they should nonetheless not allow the JFF to pay them at a rate that some schoolboy coaches are getting. Like former coach Carl Brown did when he walked away from a disrespectful US$100 day offer that the JFF made to him in 2016, Whitmore and Waite must also not allow themselves to be insulted.
Rather than unilaterally coming up with contracts for Whitmore and Waite, the JFF should instead call them in and sit them down around the bargaining table and negotiate. Insofar as the negotiation goes, they must be afforded the same treatment that we give to foreigners. I am therefore asking the JFF to wheel and come again with more respect.