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Reggae Boyz coach Heimir Hallgrímsson steps down after disastrous Copa

Heimir Hallgrímsson attends a Gold Cup 2023 press conference

Following a bitterly disappointing Copa America 2024 campaign which saw the Reggae Boyz leave the USA pointless, manager Heimir Hallgrímsson resigns from his post.

Hallgrímsson informed the Jamaica Football Federation and his players of his decision to leave the Boyz before their 3-0 defeat to Venezuela in their final group game on Sunday. The JFF released a statement following the match regarding his departure. “Hallgrimsson came to Jamaica over two years ago and has worked assiduously to lift the standard of the national team. The JFF and the wider Jamaica have seen much benefit as a result of Coach Halgrimsson’s tenure,” the JFF said.

The Reggae Boyz Copa America Campaign Ended in Disaster

Jamaica’s senior men’s national team went into the Copa America 2024 with much optimism following their best-ever Nations League campaign, including a 3-2 win in Canada to book their place in the competition. However, an injury to goalkeeper/captain Andre Blake and the Leon Bailey saga presented major issues heading into the tournament. The Boyz lost hard-fought games to Mexico (1-0) and Ecuador (3-1) before a limp second-half effort saw Venezuela run riot to see out Group B.

However, reports surfaced over the weekend that Hallgrímsson’s fate as Jamaica’s manager was in jeopardy long before the Copa. The Icelandic manager, who led his native Iceland to Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, had issues brewing with the JFF for months. Despite his respectable record, the JFF lost faith in Hallgrímsson’s prospects of leading the Boyz to its first World Cup berth since 1998. Questions lingered about his in-game management and some results, including Jamaica’s unconvincing World Cup qualifying wins over the Dominican Republic and Dominica, didn’t help.

Issues with the Players and Federation

Hallgrímsson also reportedly lost goodwill with his players, with his relationships with many squad members souring. He attempted to convince Bailey to return to the squad before the Ecuador game despite Bailey publicly rejecting call-ups, a move that irked several players. Hallgrímsson suspended Bailey for the Nations League semi-finals for missing curfew during the Canada tie. Bailey later signalled his intention to take a break from the national team due to issues with the JFF and selection process. The Aston Villa star also controversially posted on social media during Jamaica’s defeat to Ecuador, causing an uproar among supporters.

Hallgrímsson also had issues with the JFF, ranging from recruitment to the youth setup to compensation. He recently sold his home in Jamaica, living in Iceland and only travelling to the island for team assignments. The 57-year-old coach nearly quit the Boyz after the first leg of the Canada tie in Kingston.

The JFF’s technical committee will begin its coaching search in due course. Heimir Hallgrímsson went 11-6-10 in 27 matches, including a 10-3-6 record in competitive fixtures. He led the Boyz to the 2023 Gold Cup semis and the Copa America. His contract was set to expire after the 2026 World Cup.

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Written by Jodee Brown

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