The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has expressed hope that the suspension of national footballer Junior Flemmings by the USL Championship, for the use of derogatory language, serves as a ‘teachable moment' to all players.

Flemmings, a Phoenix Academy player, was suspended for six games and fined an undisclosed sum following an investigation into allegations that he used “foul and abusive language” against a San Diego Loyal player last week.  At the start of the second half, Loyal players and staff - including their manager, United States icon Landon Donovan - returned only to take a knee before walking off the pitch.

The player, who is currently on administrative leave, could also face further punishment by the club.  The JFF, in a letter released on Thursday, expressed solidarity with the USL’s decision and disappointment with Flemmings.

 “The JFF would like to make it clear that we abhor foul, abusive, or discriminatory language. We are indeed disappointed, and we impress upon our players both locally and internationally, to be mindful of their expressions within and without a game,” the letter stated.

“Every player should use this incident as a teachable moment while they maintain professionalism even under pressure or provocation,” it added.

“We truly hope that Flemmings will quickly pick up the pieces and maintain the great scoring form if and when he is called to the National team.”

The suspension means that Flemmings will miss all of the 2020 USL Championships playoffs. He had scored 14 goals in 14 matches for the Phoenix Rising.  The 24-year old has made 10 appearances for the Jamaica national team.

 

Junior Flemmings of Phoenix Rising has been banned for six matches for a homophobic insult aimed at San Diego Loyal's Collin Martin.

The Jamaican was found to have directed "foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur" at Martin, who is the only openly gay player in football in the United States.

The incident in last Wednesday's USL Championship match prompted San Diego to walk off the pitch in protest. The referee had mistakenly sent Martin off, apparently thinking he was the abuser as he reported Flemming's comments to the officials.

A heated discussion between head coach Landon Donovan, opposite number Rick Schantz and the referee followed. San Diego returned to the pitch after half-time but only to take a knee before walking off again.

Flemmings issued a statement on social media denying the abuse, but Rising placed him on administrative leave last Thursday while the USL conducted an investigation into the incident.

The USL Championship is one tier below Major League Soccer in the United States.

On Tuesday, the league confirmed the punishment: stating: "The USL Championship announced on Tuesday, following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials, that it has issued a six-game suspension and undisclosed fine to Phoenix Rising FC's Junior Flemmings for the use of foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur during the club's match against San Diego Loyal SC on September 30.

"Per the player's contract, Flemmings could also be subject to additional discipline from Phoenix Rising FC and remains on administrative leave.

"Flemmings' suspension covers the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs."

Jamaica forward Dever Orgill will turn out for a new club in Turkey when the Turkish top division gets underway next month.

England manager Gareth Southgate is reportedly keen on blunting bold recruitment ambitions of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), who have targeted a number of English players that qualify to play for the Caribbean nation.

According to recent reports, the JFF, through agent Devon Porter, has sought to make contact with a number of players that could qualify to represent the nation in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, by virtue of having Jamaican parents or grandparents. 

The list is said to include newly promoted Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, Everton's Mason Holgate, Manchester United's Mason Greenwood, and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who were all born to Jamaican parents.

The England manager has requested a meeting with the four players for Friday afternoon.  Southgate is expected to assure them of the possibility of playing for their birth country.  The England national football program has been guilty in the past of giving fringe players one of two caps, in order to end the pursuit of other potential nations, and never recalling those players again. 

Across England’s top four leagues there are said to be an estimated 124 players of Jamaican ancestry.  English-based Jamaican players played a crucial role in the country securing its only appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 1998.  The Jamaica team has already qualified for the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.  

Recently Theodore Whitmore spoke about carrying momentum from the CONCACAF Gold Cup into the region’s World Cup Qualifiers and it got me thinking.

Far more Jamaican footballers get opportunities today to go abroad and ply their trade as professional footballers than ever before. The island had always had a smattering of professionals but today, that dream is not nearly as far-fetched for those who grow up playing the game there.

But first, Jamaica got some help from overseas-born Jamaicans, who made up a significant portion of the squad that made a historic visit to the World Cup in France in 1998.

On that squad, though, there was an 18-year-old local, Ricardo Gardner, who had cemented his place at left-back during those qualifiers.

And while many may not see it that way, it was his performances at the World Cup and later, his professionalism at Bolton Wanderers, where he spent his entire career, that would kick the door open for Jamaican players.

But the moment that caught the eye of Sam Allerdyce, Bolton Wanderer’s coach at the time, could very well have been missed because it was literally, a moment.

Jamaica were down 1-0 to fellow debutants Croatia in their World Cup opener.

Truth be told, nobody expected anything less because even though Croatia were newcomers, their players were well-known professionals playing in big clubs all over Europe. Their ‘newness’ to World Cup competition really stemmed from the recent birth of their country.

Croatia was part of the country known as Yugoslavia, well-known for producing international teams and players of repute.

So Croatia weren’t really newcomers.

Gardner was, in all senses of the word, but he never played like one. He was confident on the ball and made good decisions throughout the game, even as Croatia proved dominant in a 3-1 win.

They would take the momentum from that victory all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup, eventually finishing third behind winners, France, and runners-up Brazil.

But before that, they did have to go through a moment of worry against the ‘lowly’ Jamaicans.

Trailing 1-0 courtesy of a Mario Stanic tap in at the 27th-minute marker, Jamaica were not overawed and stayed in the game.

On the stroke of half time, an attempted dribble down the left-hand flank was broken up by Croatia, but the interception came to the feet of Gardner who struck a perfect left-footed cross onto the head of Robbie Earle.

Earle rose high and powered home his header, Jamaica’s first of the World Cup, and Croatia now had work to do to get ahead in the game once more.

Gardner’s assist was noted. The vision to make the pass without a second touch, the timing, the accuracy, were noted by Allerdyce.

And when against Japan, who Jamaica beat 2-1, Gardner went on a mazy run, showcasing some fleet footedness before collapsing from sheer exhaustion from the effort, his contract with the then Championship outfit, was assured.

Today, 22 years later, Jamaicans are still benefitting from that cross.

Fresh from an enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jamaica international Leon Bailey will be hoping to have a telling impact against runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich, similar to when the teams last met.

In a surprise 2-1 win for Bayer Leverkusen, it was the speedy winger who found the back of the net twice.  Bailey opened the scoring after sprinting onto Kevin Volland’s neat through ball, tore past David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard to unleash a right-footed thunderbolt beyond the outstretched glove of Manuel Neuer. Thomas Muller equalised but another lightning counterattack immediately afterward, saw Volland tee up Bailey again, this time to score a left-footed rocket.

More than two months after the fixture was scheduled to be played, the teams will meet on Saturday at BayArena.  The layoff has been a time of frustration for both players and fans alike, but the Jamaican reveals that he also took the time to reflect.

“From a mental perspective, coping with the lockdown was a bit chill for me because I had my family here,” Bailey told inews.

“It gave me a lot of time to reflect on everything that I needed to concentrate on more and, you know, just reflect on who I am.”

The winger had struggled to get going early season, his progress disrupted by injury, and then two red cards.

“To come back from injury is always a difficult thing to do. I’ve overcome it a lot of times, I’ve come back, I’ve scored goals and been [there] in important moments for the team, giving assists. So I’ve overcome them, it’s just for me to keep that going in a steady way.”

Cassava Piece, Grant’s Pen, Commons, and Stony Hill are some of the first communities in Jamaica to begin benefitting from the Leon Bailey Foundation.

Leon Bailey and his manager Craig Butler, through his Phoenix Academy, had announced recently, a partnership to help alleviate the inevitable hardships that would come to especially poorer communities amid economic downturn, a symptom of the spread of COVID-19.

According to reports, more than 100 people from the communities benefited from the foundation’s gift of groceries.  

“We see the needs of our people and will do our best to help where it counts most,” said Bailey, a Jamaican winger, who plies his trade for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga.

Before the spread of COVID-19 shut down football the world over, Bailey had been rumoured to have, not for the first time in his fledgeling career, been the target of English Premier League clubs. Chelsea FC have been banded about as frontrunners for the star’s signature after it was said the club had been preparing an £85 million bid.

However, there is also interest inside of Germany with Bayern Munich said to be on the lookout.

While there is no football and obviously no transfer business, Bailey has found a way to give back.

According to a report in the Jamaica Observer, recipients of groceries would be receiving every two weeks.

The package of groceries includes flour, rice, corned beef, salt fish, baked beans, sausages, condensed milk, cooking oil, and toiletries.

“We want to help as best as we can and are giving out packages each day, so they can at least cook food and be okay for the day, and tomorrow we come again,” said Butler, who is in Jamaica while Bailey remains in Germany.

In a video message, Bailey implored other sports stars and those who have the means to, to join in his campaign to help fight the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Anyone who wants to help the movement and play a part can reach out, and together we can overcome this obstacle. So, please, guys, be safe, stay strong and look forward to better days. Keep our fingers crossed and believe in God,” he said.

The foundation is a partnership among Bailey, the Phoenix Academy and Empire Entertainment.

Bayern Leverkusen star Leon Bailey has admitted it is a different feeling for players to compete in an empty stadium but agrees it is a necessary evil in light of the threat posed by COVID19.

The 22-year-old Jamaica international is expected to play a key role when the in-form German outfit takes on Scottish club Rangers, at Leverkusen's Bay Arena.  The match will, however, be missing a key element as it will be played behind closed doors, becoming a part of Europe's struggles to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

With over 1000 people having tested positive for the coronavirus in the country, the German Football League (DFL) decided to close games on a case by case basis.  The trend has already strongly taken root across Europe with many leagues opting for fan free matches.  It has already been confirmed that the second leg of the tie, in Scotland, will also be played behind closed doors.

“It affects us because football is for the fans.  Playing behind closed doors is always a different type of feeling,” Bailey told BBC Sports Scotland.

“But I mean we also have to think about the safety of others, and we have to do what we have to do,” he added.

“Our health come first.  Without health, there is no life.”

 

 

A confident Davion Ferguson, coach of triumphant Manning Cup champions Jamaica College, insists the team was always confident of turning the tables on St Andrew Technical (STATHS) a team that defeated them just two rounds prior.

 For the second consecutive match in a row Jamaica College were perfect from the penalty spot, after failing to find the goal against STATHS in regular time.  Just as they had against Kingston College in the semifinals, JC managed to turn the tables on a team that had gotten the better of them earlier this season. 

In the quarterfinal round, it was STATHS who triumphed 2-1, when it counted most it was JC who managed to repeat the result of the 2017 Manning Cup final to claim an unprecedented 30th title.  Despite heading into the final as slight underdogs Ferguson insists the team was always confident of getting revenge on their opponents.

“We were very confident.  We re-watched the video from the first game, and I believe I can say publicly that tactically we got that wrong, but we assessed ourselves and we came back here,” Ferguson said.

“We should have won it in 90 but in penalties, it was sweet the same,” he added.

“When set out in June to accomplish this and we did.  These boys are champions and it’s just tremendous.”

 

 

 The Manning Cup semi-finals between rivals JC and KC was marred after one player bit into the shoulder of his opponent and was slapped in return.

Jamaica international Rodolph Austin recently admitted he was forced to learn the hard way when it comes to the seriousness of local rivalries in English football.

The hard-nosed central midfielder spent three seasons at the West Yorkshire club Leeds United where he became somewhat of a folk hero for his no-holds-barred brand of play.  The Jamaican, who signed for the club in 2012, was given an education on the nature of English football’s rivalries soon after at a most unlikely place, the car dealership.

"I needed a car and I remember going to a dealership.  I saw a red Audi and I remember saying: 'Wow, this is nice, I'm going to get it!’

Austin told Esbjerg fB, his current club in Denmark.

"I went up to the guy and asked him the price for the red Audi outside and he said: 'You can't get it.' So I said: 'I have the money, why can't I get it?”

"He said: 'When you play for Leeds, you can't drive anything red, you can't have anything to do with anything red.' I was like: 'Why?'

"He said: 'You cannot have anything to do with red because of the rivalry between Manchester United and Leeds is so big so no-one can wear red or have anything to do with red.'

"I didn't even know the guy was a Leeds fan and it just shows you the rivalry so strongly and I had to end up buying a white car."

Austin made more than 100 appearances for the Elland Road club, even winning the club’s goal of the season award in the 2014-2015 season.  He left England for Denmark after failing to secure a work permit in 2015.  The 34-year-old has made 84 appearances for the Jamaica national team.  The player has served as captain for both Leeds and his national team.

 

A furious late-game rally from Mount Pleasant kept the pressure on Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) leaders Waterhouse after they secured a 2-1 win over Humble Lion.

The St Ann-based club seemed well on their way to a home loss after Rohan Richards had given Humble Lion the lead at the stroke of halftime.  With the advantage holding for most of the second half, Mount Pleasant only sprang into action in the final 10 minutes.  Sue-Lae McCalla finally brought the team back on level terms in the 86th minute and in the dying embers of the game, Jourdaine Fletcher scored again to leave Humble Lion stunned.  The win was the fifth in a row for the surging Mount Pleasant.

Elsewhere, the downward spiral continued for previous league leaders Molynes United who crashed to a fourth loss in five games following a 2-1 loss to UWI.  Sergini Frankson gave the promoted team the lead in the 13th minute but UWI struck back almost immediately when Shuwayne Barrett responded in the 17th minute.  Zhelano Barnes handed the visitors all three points from the penalty spot in the 57th minute.  In another game, ten-man Tivoli Gardens went down 1-0 to visiting Portmore United.  Forward Rondee Smith got the game’s only goal in the 72nd minute.  Elsewhere, a Dean-Andre Thomas double saw Dunbeholden snap a two-game winless streak with a 2-1 win over Vere United.

In the late kick-offs, goals from Kenroy Howell (37th), Tremaine Stewart (74th) and Colorado Murray (83rd) saw Waterhouse come from behind to secure a comprehensive 3-1 win over Harbour View.  Bebeto McDonald had given the home team the lead in the 28th minute.  In the other game, Arnett Gardens cruised to a 4-2 win over Cavalier.

Dependable Dinthill Technical striker Rajae Layne struck twice as the team served up a surprise 2-1 win over Cornwall College to secure a place in the daCosta final at the Montego Bay Complex on Wednesday.

The typically lethal Layne, however, may have considered himself a bit fortunate to give the team the lead, against the run of play, as it was the favourites who dominated the early exchanges.  The forward took full advantage of the team’s first meaningful attack in the third minute, however, his weak connection to a deflected cross looping over Cornwall College custodian Peter Sinclair and high into the net.

Cornwall would continue to pour forward, however, but found reply, much as they have for most of the season, through Brandon Curate’s trusted left foot.  The converted striker scored his 11th goal of the season after whipping in a trademark freekick, which nestled into the net at the far post.

Despite Cornwall again having the better of the place for a good chunk of the second half, the day would belong to Layne and Dinthill. 

This time, the striker made use of sloppy handling of the ball just outside the 18-yard area by the Cornwall defense, before driving into the box to calmly slot past Sinclair, in the 73rd minute.  Dinthill will meet Clarendon College in the final, following their 3-0 victory over McGrath.

Cardel Benbow got the crucial goal for Mount Pleasant as they made ground on the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) leaders on Sunday.

The slippery Benbow found the back of the net in the 15th minute with Dunbeholden unable to find a way back into the game.  The hosts were reduced to 10-men in the 88-minute when Shevan James received a second yellow card.

League leaders Waterhouse were forced to battle from behind to earn a share of the points.

Shai Smith gave Portmore United an unexpected lead in the 19th minute but Colorado Murray finally managed to pull the teams level with a goal in the 75th minute.

Second place Molynes United were also forced to settled for a share of the points but were pegged back after Sergeni Frankson 26th minute penalty established an early lead.  Newton Sterling found the back of the net for a second straight week, however, after Tivoli struck back in the 45th minute.

In other games, Cavalier and Vere United played to a 0-0 draw while Humble Lion and UWI also had to settle for splitting the points after playing to a 1-1 tie.  Renae Lloyd put UWI in the lead in the 20th but Thorn Simpson brought the home team back on level terms 10 minutes later.

 

Defending champions Kingston College (KC) and Wolmer’s Boys battled to a 1-1 draw, while Camperdown High defeated Charlie Smith High 4-0 as quarter-final action continued in Group A of the 2019 ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup football competition at the Stadium East field on Tuesday.

The results mean that KC, Wolmer’s Boys and Camperdown High will be fighting for two semi-final spots from the group heading into the final set of matches, while Jerome Waite-coached Charlie Smith High, the 1988, 1990 and 1995 champions, have been eliminated.

KC and Wolmer’s Boys are locked on four points from two matches but the defending champions are leading the group courtesy of a goal difference of plus five compared to plus one. Camperdown High, which bounced back from their 3-2 defeat against Wolmer’s Boys in the opening set of matches last Wednesday, hold down third place with three points.

Charlie Smith High are without a point from their two games as they went down 5-0 to KC last Thursday.

In the curtain-raiser at the Stadium East, Shaqueil Bradford scored a hat-trick to lead Camperdown High to their 4-0 demolition of Charlie Smith High.

Camperdown High took control of the match from the first half which produced two of the four goals.

Shawn Daley opened the scoring in the 27th minute and Bradford doubled the lead on the stroke of half time.

Bradford added his second goal in the 67th minute and completed the hat trick in the 83rd minute.

In the second game, KC took a well-deserved lead in the 17th minute through leading striker Dwayne Atkinson and then missed numerous scoring opportunities and allowed Wolmer’s back into the game.

Talisman Ronaldo Webster, formerly of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), responded for Wolmer’s in the 73rd minute with his 17th goal of the season.

The result kept KC’s undefeated record intact but ruined their perfect record. The Purples entered the day with a perfect record of 14 victories in all competitions this season and dropped their first points in the team's 15th match.

Webster’s goal was only the third conceded by KC so far this season.

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