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JFF boss sees FIFA summit as great opportunity for football, Jamaica

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Mike Ricketts believes the hosting of the FIFA Executive Football Summit (FIFA EFS) on Jamaica's north-west coast next January will bring with it potential benefits for the football product in particular and Jamaica on a whole.

Slated for January 18, 2018, in Montego Bay, the JFF boss thinks the international football event will help to “raise the profile” of Jamaica's football and “will have a positive economic impact” on the tourism product.

“They (FIFA) sent a representative here to look over the facilities and I think she was particularly impressed with Half Moon Hotel”.

FIFA's senior corporate events manager, Antonetta Santagata, was in Jamaica on the weekend for site inspections, and to address other planning matters regarding the summit.

“I must say that I am absolutely delighted with this opportunity for Jamaica as some 60-odd persons from all across the world will be here for this summit, so the opportunity for dialogue and to build relationships with other FIFA members with regards to broad-based co-operation and to possibly initiate discussions with the possibility of friendly internationals,” Ricketts told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Each of these summits — an initiative of FIFA president Gianni Infantino starting in November 2016 — brings together the representatives of around 20 member associations and is divided into two half-day workshop sessions, conducted in an informal setting to allow open and constructive dialogue.

The inaugural meeting in Paris brought together top executives — mainly member association presidents and general secretaries — from French-speaking countries across Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Oceania, showcasing a wide range of experiences.

Jamaica will be the first Caribbean host of the Infantino-chaired FIFA EFS, and the second in the sub-continental grouping of CONCACAF. The USA has already hosted an edition.

“This will certainly raise the profile of Jamaica's football as the first Caribbean country and the second in CONCACAF to host this pretigious FIFA event and we intend to keep up with tradition as a first-class host.

“We will do everything in our power to make everyone comfortable, including the FIFA president himself, and hopefully at the end of it, all will be satisfied. We are highly excited about the prospects,” noted Ricketts, who was recently elected to the JFF presidency.

The project, in part, is aimed at enhancing the relationship between FIFA and its member associations at a top executive level and to provide a democratic platform for information exchange.

Additionally, the summit's key findings are to be fed into various decision-making bodies such as the FIFA Council and ultimately the FIFA Congress.

“It is important that in future the decisions at FIFA are not dictated from the top, but really come from those who have to engage with and organise football in their countries every day, and that is why it is important that we use their feedback and input to develop our programmes,” Infantino was quoted as saying at the first Summit in Paris last year.

Chief member association officer of FIFA Joyce Cook said hosting of the summit in Jamaica provides a great opportunity for all stakeholders.

“The planning and organisation of the FIFA event provides an excellent practice and experience-sharing possibility between the FIFA administration and the operational team members at the JFF,” she said.

— Sean Williams