JFF welcomes government's decision to approve the resumption of football

By Sports Desk May 05, 2021

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has welcomed the Jamaican government’s decision to grant approval for the resumption of Jamaica’s Premier League after more than a year of inactivity because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Football was suspended in March 2020 after the virus began to spread across the country.

However, after months of meetings and deliberations, the decision to allow for the resumption of football was announced today by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie following a meeting between representatives of the Ministries of Health and Wellness, and Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Premier League Clubs Association, the Jamaica Football Federation, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and the Social Development Commission.

“We have been meeting for some time to ensure that all possible mechanisms concerning the efficient prevention and management of COVID-19 are applied to all aspects of Club competition, including the health and safety of players, referees and Club workers and administrators. Further details regarding the starting times and the conditions under which the competitions will be held, will be disclosed at a later date,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Even as the management of COVID-19 remains paramount, the Government is keen for sport to resume in a phased, orderly manner, consistent with the continued reduction in the country’s positivity rate. The impact of sport on social well-being and social development is well recognized, and the Government will support all efforts to promote the enjoyment of sport in the safest way possible. In this regard, the Government is actively considering applications from a range of sporting associations.”

JFF President Michael Ricketts welcomed the news.

“This is very positive news for the stakeholders of football,” Ricketts said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Of course, my first thoughts are with our players and coaches who will now have opportunities open to them to resume the trade that they so love. I also want to commend and thank the partners who have invested, for their patience and loyalty to the sport.

“Finally, thanks to the ministries and state agencies for the work done to get us here. While I am sure the players are overjoyed with the news, I implore them to be constantly mindful of the current local health conditions and act responsibly. While we play, let’s play our part in containing this pandemic. Let the games begin.”

The approval was given for the format that allows clubs to train at their home grounds with the official matches to be held at central venues. Most recently, the PFJL had developed a protocol for the official matches to be held in a controlled environment based on the significant upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica starting in February. However, with the success of the most recent measures that have cut back the number of new cases, all parties were satisfied that the previous model would align with the current measures.

There is also greater confidence with the start of national vaccination efforts.

The JFF will now work to finalize the design of the format for the official matches following the delay in receiving approval and the resulting shortened season. The JFF will also have to integrate the Jamaica Premier League matches with those on the national and regional calendars as both the Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifiers are being held in the coming months.

Details of the start, duration and league format will be shared in the coming days.

Like most sporting events globally, the Jamaica Premier League will be held without spectators in order to contribute to the nation’s efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, fans will be able to enjoy the matches as the PFJL has secured a broadcast partner for the Caribbean who will be responsible for identifying television broadcasters for Jamaica and the region.

Acting General Manager of the PFJL, Arlene L. Martin was very pleased with the go-ahead.

 “The PFJL appreciates the government’s recognition of the importance of the resumption of professional football as well as the confidence in the approved protocol and the ability to comply with these measures. The PFJL has worked with our national and regional stakeholders to develop a thorough protocol that we are confident will support and even enhance the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to an exciting season with the Clubs and our commercial partners and to delivering quality football to our fans.”

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