In a strange and unforeseen twist, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) may come out of the Reggae Boyz Copa America exit smelling like roses if rumours are to be believed regarding the former ex-head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.

This is a position those in charge of the JFF have not experienced, they are used to being loathed and despised by the general public, looked at with ridicule and as an example of how not to run a sports federation. Now, they are seen as the reasonable ones in the room.

The JFF usually are guilty of dreaming beyond their abilities and looking to take unnecessary steps that have a negative impact on local football, so for the shoe to be on the other foot is interesting if only to see how they respond.

The head coach has, it seems, really stepped in it. A major reason for his leaving the post has been the Leon Bailey debacle. It seems the JFF and the former coach were on differing pages when it came to how to handle the fact that Mr Bailey’s agent and the JFF top brass are in open conflict, and the JFF wish to lay down a marker by not selecting him. Former coach Hallgrimsson, however, wanted to select the Aston Villa midfielder in opposition to the Federation.

Such a move in years gone by would have seen the public come out on the side of the manager in selecting the player. However, today is not 1998 and Leon Bailey is no Walter Boyd. When Rene Simoes refused to select Boyd on disciplinary grounds the public came out for Boyd, and demanded his selection and Rene relented. The issue Bailey faces is that the public is not on his side and wants to go further than the JFF and ensure Bailey is never selected again. The former manager wished to re-integrate the player, against the wishes of the public and the JFF has taken advantage of that by releasing a statement advising that Bailey is suspended until further notice.

Another issue which has seen the JFF come out looking more reasonable is the former coach’s wishes to utilize foreign-born players in the youth system. The integration of foreign players in the national structure is a third-rail issue; everyone knows or should know that. We want to see locally born and based players breaking through not only for prideful reasons but because they can, if they perform well, make moves abroad benefiting them and the local club they played for.

For this reason, among others, the JFF has not picked foreign players to represent at the youth level. The former coach wished to select foreign players at the youth level to both lock down players but also to integrate them into the system, making them more likely to get selected at the senior level.

While it is understandable why the former coach wanted the foreign players, the JFF was not out of line in rejecting it as one of the remits of the head coach is to help develop football locally; point 2 to the JFF.

There are other areas of contention, some of which would see the public come out for the former head coach but in the grand scheme of things would not outweigh the two issues raised. That the JFF, having lost a head coach following a spectacular stint in charge, comes out smelling like roses is both impressive and disappointing.

It is impressive simply because this organization could not coordinate and execute a night of hard drinking in a brewery and they have seemingly worked their way to looking like the good guys. It is disappointing because this JFF has no real vision beyond qualification for the next World Cup and we really need a coach who looks after more than that. And while he did not get full marks the former coach was at least on track to secure qualification.

This should be egg on the face of the JFF. We are in the process of squandering a chance at the World Cup because of petty infighting. But because of the hills the former coach chose to die on, the JFF walks away smelling of roses.

Since this has been in the offing for some weeks now, have the JFF lined up a replacement? How will they ensure that the misunderstandings former coach Hallgrimsson faced will be corrected? Is Bailey out of the fold or is he selectable when he makes himself available? These are serious questions which need to be answered before we even begin to look at new coaches.

But more than anything it shows that a shake-up of the JFF is needed. It is now two people who have been left with a bad taste in their mouth by the seeming conflict of interest represented by one JFF official. Is it time that they tell this respected coach and pretty good administrator to choose which hat to wear full time?

Jamaican football fans are not yet drawing the knives out for the JFF, but even with the reasons for action being ones that fans understand, they will not accept going backwards. The past two coaches have done well with what we have. We have a youth setup that while not world-beating is talented, and we have a senior squad that knows how to win matches.

If the JFF falters in these areas, then this move to force the resignation of the head coach will be used as sticks to beat them. The JFF may have come out smelling like roses but the issues remain, domestic football is still in a shoddy state and the youth programme is far from doing its job as a training ground for the senior team.

There are two years between now and the World Cup, leaving the JFF plenty of time to get on the wrong end of fans. Hopefully they use this lucky break to stay on the good side of the public and take the national team more seriously by changing its structure.

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