Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Michael Ricketts, has responded to criticism around the access given to Reggae Girlz patron Cedella Marley at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The administration came under fire after a video showing Cedella, daughter of Reggae icon Bob Marley and a major factor behind the resurrection of Jamaica’s national senior women’s programme, communicating to the players through a fence after their 3-0 loss to Brazil in their opening game of the competition in Grenoble.
However, Ricketts, who questioned whether this was even an issue for Marley herself, pointed to a case of miscommunication, while stating that the entrepreneur’s handlers had indicated, when contacted by the JFF months ago, that they would secure their own access to the venue. Ricketts, who underlined that the JFF would have had no issue facilitating whatever credentials Marley would have wanted, also shared that they have been in touch with her team since the issue arose and that there were no problems with Marley or her camp.
“Really, I must first and foremost apologise to Cedella Marley and her handlers. But the truth is that I don’t even know if this was an issue for Cedella. Obviously, it is an issue for somebody else,” Ricketts said.
“Very early, when we learnt of our qualification, we were in contact with the Marley group, and they assured us that they were OK and that there was a suite (available for them). We never heard back from them. In fact, there was an issue where there was a problem for her security to come over, and we were actually having discussions with the French (authorities) to provide her with local security. That was as far as the early negotiations went. I didn’t know that she was at the game until all of this because they were never in contact with us, really, to say that she would be at the game and that she would like an accreditation,” Ricketts shared. “FIFA does all the accreditation, so we would then have made the request (through FIFA). For instance, the sports minister and the JOA (Jamaica Olympic Association) folks had indicated from early on, so we would have gone through the process of having their accreditation done.”
FIFA, like most organisers of events, provide two modes of access – tickets and accreditation IDs. Tickets are issued to regular spectators, as well as VIP guests, such as Marley, to assigned seats or suites inside the venue. Accreditation, with varying levels of access, dependent on the bearer’s role in the event, is normally issued to team members and officials, members of the organising team and event family (in this case FIFA officials), security personnel, volunteers, media representatives, service providers and others.
“Like I said, it was unfortunate, and we are hoping that there won’t be a recurrence. I again want to apologise on behalf of the JFF, and I really think that communication, or the lack of it, would have caused this breakdown. She would have to indicate to us that she wanted to be a part of the group because, initially, they did say that they had a personal suite and they would have made their own arrangements,” he added.
“We would not have had an issue if someone from her group had said, ‘please arrange for her to be seated with the minister or to be seated with the JFF group. ‘The indication was that they had a suite, so we thought everything would have been fine and they would have been taken care of,” Ricketts added. “I am hoping we would be able to repair whatever damage that might have been done. She has been very good to the JFF, and as a sponsor and as the ambassador, I would not want her to feel offended or slighted.”
The JFF president shared that contact has been made with Marley’s team and that he has been assured that there is no grouse. He also noted that the JFF has offered to request from FIFA an accreditation for Marley, which would give her access to the team at match venues for upcoming games. He was, however, quick to point out that she does already have full access to the Reggae Girlz outside of the match venues.
“The team manager (Jean Nelson) wrote to her handler, the person with whom we have always spoken, and the response was that she (Marley) is fine. We will check again to make sure; we will ask again, send another mail. It would be a challenge to get an accreditation for her this late, but at least we will have contact.
“We have absolutely no problem with that (Marley meeting with the team at their hotel, etc). As long as she wants to do that, we must and we will make those arrangements, so if she wants to come to the hotel and meet with the team, it’s on us to make that happen,” Ricketts added.
Jamaica will play Italy here on Friday at 6 p.m. (11 a.m. Jamaica time) in their next game of the tournament before facing Australia in Grenoble in their final group game on June 18.