Gilbert still without top players for decisive Women’s Gold Cup qualifying legs as JFF standoff prolongs

By November 22, 2023
Jamaica's Reggae Girlz at the FIFA Women's World Cup. Jamaica's Reggae Girlz at the FIFA Women's World Cup. file

Interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert will again be without his more established players for the decisive legs of their Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures against Panama and Guatemala on November 29 and December 3.

With the players, who achieved the historic feat of making the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year still out, Gilbert has once again assembled a squad filled with more youth than experience where senior international caps are concerned.

In fact, Sashana “Pete” Campbell is the only experienced player called up to join fellow 2019 World Cup veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman in the team.

The Girlz, who lost 1-2 away to Panama and were held to a 2-2 stalemate at home by Guatemala, are faced with a must-win situation in the League A encounters, if they are to secure an automatic berth to next year’s Women’s Gold Cup.

They currently sit at the foot of the three-team standing with a point. Panama heads the standings on six points, with Guatemala on four. Should the Girlz fail to top the standings, they would at least need to finish second to have another shot at Gold Cup qualification through a playoff contest against a League B group winner.

With that in mind, expectations were that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the World Cup players –who withdrew their services over lack of payment and general “mistreatment” from the governing football body –would have arrived at an amicable settlement, as it is understood that several meetings were planned.

JFF’s General Secretary Dennis Chung explained that meetings were in fact planned but didn’t materialize.

“We had reached out to them and asked them to specify in writing what the details of the mistreatment they allege are, and also to advise us of two dates they want to meet and who the representatives are from their end to discuss, as per the grievance procedures under the contract, as we want to ensure that we do everything according to contract for the protection of all. We didn’t receive any feedback on proposed dates, so we proposed December 8,” Chung told SportsMax.TV.

“Someone said to us they would speak to the players about meeting earlier (Tuesday), but this was not official communication from the players and there was no confirmation from them. And there is still no response to the December 8 proposal, so we have to wait on the feedback,” he added.

However, SportsMax.TV has been reliably informed that the reason for the Girlz silence is due to the fact that they are still yet to be paid in full.

This is contrary to a JFF release on October 27 which states: “The JFF is pleased to advise that, as committed, we have now paid in full balances due to the Women’s World Cup team.”

A source close to the situation denied the claims.

“The players have not received their money and they want it to be made public,” the source shared.

But Chung rebutted.

“As far as we know we have paid all the monies due. I have heard people say that players are due money still, but no one has come to us and say what is outstanding. So, persons outside can say anything, but I have to go by the records we have. If there is money outstanding, then it should be for the players to state what is outstanding, not for people in the public to say money is outstanding. That is not something anyone can act on,” Chung argued.

“Our focus right now is on the upcoming games, while we wait on the response to the proposed date, as we of course want to understand the allegations of mistreatment so that if it is something we need to address then we ensure that it is dealt with for all our players, current and future,” he noted.

The Girlz will face Panama at the National Stadium next Wednesday, before travelling to lock horns with Guatemala a few days later.

Squad: Lauren Reid, Malikae Dayes, Zoe Vidaurre, Chinyelu Asher, Israela Groves, Ricshya Walker, Marlo Sweatman, Davia Richards, Mikayla Dayes, Shaneil Buckley, Melissa Johnson, Aliyah Morgan, Theanna Burnett, Serena Mensa, Shanice Foster, Destiny Powell, Njeri Butts, Sashana Campbell, Shania Harris, Sydnie Street, Javanae Jones, Lachante Paul, Maliah Atkins.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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