Adrian Frater | Blame the JFF’s indecisiveness
Had the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) been a serious organisation, the ongoing saga as to whether Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey will ultimately represent Jamaica would have been settled long ago. However, because the federation has been so indecisive, it is basically putting the organisation into disrepute and leaving it open to ridicule.
It is no secret to anyone that Craig Butler, the founder of Phoenix Academy, is the man calling the shots where Bailey is concerned. Unlike the JFF, which is seemingly a hotbed of procrastination, he has made it absolutely clear that Bailey's availability is dependent on the JFF also opening up the door to Butler's son, Kyle Butler, another product of his academy.
The elder Butler, based on his knowledge of the inner workings of the JFF over many years, knows that the 'J' in the JFF could easily be switched from 'Jamaica' to 'Jokers' because, even in the best of times, the federation appears to be operating on autopilot when it is fudging around with it endless bouts of trial, which has left it with many gaping holes for manipulation.
As much as I have criticised Craig Butler in the past and question his in-your-face approach to doing things, I have long come to the conclusion that, unlike the JFF, he knows what he is about in terms of identifying, developing and exposing the talents at his disposal and making them into polished gems for either Jamaica or the international club circuit.
Based on my knowledge of the meetings that the Phoenix boss has had with the JFF, he has also been consistent, from declaring that his players will not be part of any programme under former national football director Vin Blaine through to demanding that his Phoenix Academy players must all be given a fair opportunity to be considered for national selection.
For its part, the JFF has been operating like a man who, after swearing he wants nothing to do with his ex-wife, is quietly making overtures towards her behind the scene. I don't believe I have enough fingers on both hands to count the number of times that the JFF has intimated to Butler that they are willing to have dialogue with him, knowing that he is not going to alter his preconditions for Bailey to represent Jamaica.
In fact, I was pleasantly surprised recently when I read that the JFF was ready to mend fences with Butler. While it is still unclear whether the federation acted on its own volition or was responding to outside pressure, it is that kind of back and forth that leaves one to wonder whether the JFF wants to be taken seriously.
I am very unhappy with the latest round of media bashing that has been directed at Bailey for not taking up a recent offer to represent Jamaica. As far as I am concerned, his decision not to play because his brother was not included in the squad is consistent with the position that the Phoenix organisation has always held. It has been the JFF, that has been intimating that it will bend if pushed by the right person.
I strongly believe that had the JFF opened a line of communication between Butler and national coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore to address the issue, the matter would have been resolved long ago because, as men with sound football credentials, it would be easy for them to see eye to eye, especially in regard to discussing Butler's concern alongside Whitmore's philosophy.
I am a little concerned about the JFF's latest position, which is suggesting that it is up to Whitmore to decide the fate of Bailey and the younger Butler. I have every reason to believe that Bailey will be sticking to his guns with regard to not playing unless his adoptive brother is also given an opportunity, so based on the Federation's hide-and-go-seek stance, Whitmore is setup to be the fall guy.
If Whitmore is reading this column, my suggestion to him is to immediately extend a joint invitation to Leon and Kyle for the next national team assignment. If the JFF thinks that Kyle should not just walk into the team without going through a so-called trial, let them take the decision to withdraw the invitation and face the wrath of the Leon Bailey fans.