Click here to print page

Let's agree on what's affordable for coaches' salaries

Saturday, April 14, 2018

We are at one with former general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Mr Horace Reid regarding the best way to resolve the impasse which led to the resignation of national football coach Mr Theodore Whitmore.

Mr Reid, who is director of football for the Caribbean region of CONCACAF, has suggested that if all parties are committed to Jamaica's football they “should set aside egos and do what's right by the country”.

Part of the problem, of course, is that Jamaicans haven't heard the whole story. Those of us on the outside hear bits and pieces, depending on who is speaking.

So while it would appear that money is central to the differences between the JFF and Mr Whitmore there are other issues including a breakdown in communication and the suspicion that the coach may have shown disrespect.

Note the allegations that Mr Whitmore only learnt about planned away friendly matches against St Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda “via the media”, and that he has had no response to concerns he expressed regarding “technical matters” to the leadership of the federation.

If those allegations are anywhere close to being accurate, it is obvious that the JFF needs to get its house in order.

We note word that Sports Minister Ms Olivia Grange is keen on playing a role as mediator with the intention of getting Mr Whitmore back in the fold. She is perhaps best qualified so to do.

All of that aside, we feel the impasse provides an opportunity for the JFF, its business partners and financial supporters in public and private sectors and indeed all football stakeholders to deal frontally with this issue of the amount of money paid to coaches.

Though the exact figures were always 'hush hush', it's well established that salaries for overseas coaches, since the legendary Brazilian Mr Rene Simoes arrived in the 1990s, are easily in the top one per cent of Jamaican business executives.

We hear that in the case of the most recent overseas coach, Mr Winfried Schaefer, he received US$45,000 per month. That's obviously a lot of money, yet in the context of international football such a salary is considered 'chicken feed'. In fact, as we understand it, a decade ago Mr Velibor 'Bora' Milutinovic was earning US$1 million annually as Jamaica's national coach.

No wonder then that Mr Whitmore feels insulted on being offered J$500,000 — reportedly raised to J$750,000 — monthly.

The truth is that in the context of Jamaica's under-developed football, heavily indebted football federation and pauperised national economy, such salaries as have been paid to overseas coaches in the past are simply not affordable. All concerned need to face up and come to a consensus as to what is affordable and stick to that.

It can't be that as a country Jamaica continues to pay tens of thousands of US dollars monthly to foreign football coaches when it's easier to find hen's teeth than a decent football playing surface.

We think negotiations in good faith — whether with Mr Whitmore or somebody else — would be made easier if the JFF is able to openly provide information on its existing and anticipated revenue flows.

Crucially too, it should commit to avoid hanging its basket higher than it can reach.