Reggae Boyz fans who were hoping Leverkusen’s highly-coveted Jamaican starlet, Leon Bailey, would represent the Jamaican national football team at senior level may have to quash their hopes for the foreseeable future.
This following an intensifying row between Jamaican Football Federation president, Michael Ricketts, and Bailey’s adoptive father/representative, Craig Butler. That row peaked on Wednesday after Ricketts spoke out against Butler’s attempts to win a position with the J.F.F.
In an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, Ricketts effectively rendered Bailey’s chances of representing Jamaica as slim, though he left the door open by suggesting the Reggae Boyz could still call up the Leverkusen winger for their next FIFA date in March.
In doing so though, Ricketts called out Butler’s approach during talks as Bailey’s adoptive father sought a technical position in the J.F.F. He also previously stated that Bailey would not represent the Boyz unless other players from his Phoenix Academy were included in the setup.
“I have said to Mr Butler that if you want the job at the JFF there is a process you must follow. You must submit an application to the JFF with your requisite resume then the board will make a decision. That has not happened,” he said.
Ricketts also doubled down on his position by pointing out Butler’s credentials and didn’t mince his words.
“Mr Butler has not done anything with any (club) team in Jamaica,” he said. “What teams has he coached that have been a success? He worked at Humble Lion and nothing happened. His club, Phoenix, has never won anything. Mr. Butler has a good player, but we are not going to allow Mr. Butler to take over the federation because we want his son to play.”
Butler shot back on his Facebook page in a lengthy retort, calling Ricketts ‘spineless’ while claiming he ‘still wishes to raid people’s kitchens without planting or buying his own food.
He also suggested that he has given up the dream of Leon and any other Phoenix player representing Jamaica.
“Our decision now will be one with a clear and decisive conscience that we gave it all a chance and laid down fair options to a corrupt system hell-bent on securing its current methods of unfair and biased recruitment,” Butler said. “The boys have not played for Jamaica though deserving to do so for twenty years of their life. What we must now do and Jamaica, by extension, is to accept what is instead of hoping for what could be.”
Bailey has been capped once by Jamaica at U23 level, scoring a free kick in a friendly win over Cayman Islands in 2015. He recently told German newspaper, Bild, regarding his future, “It’s been like that for years, but my opinion hasn’t changed and people have to accept that…Which country I play for is still open.”
Bailey, otherwise known as ‘Chippy’ has been a revelation in the German Bundesliga for Leverkusen, scoring nine goals and adding five assists in 20 appearances (15 starts) for the club. He has attracted interest from English Premier League clubs and is reportedly being considered by England’s national team amidst rumours he could qualify for them via his grandparents. However, those rumours have yet to be fully substantiated.