While some are talking about the disparity between the United States’ men’s and women’s national teams, there is another harsh reality in international soccer. That reality is, not every national team is in the position the top teams are in financially and it can often times get ugly.
Such is the case for the Jamaican national team, often referred to as the Regge Boyz. According to a report from Vice Sports, the national team players refused to show up to Monday’s practice at the StubHub Center in a strike against the lack of pay and fair treatment from the Jamaican football federation.
At issue is the lack of pay for participation in the 2015 Gold Cup, a tournament the national team has only placed in twice (1993 and 1998). At the heart of the matter is the disparity in pay from CONCACAF at this tournament, with those in the upper echelon’s of the tournament earning millions and those in the last four spots (9th to 12th) earning just $100,000 for participation.
Interestingly, the head of the JFF acknowledges the need to pay his players more. However, he also notes the dire straights of his federation and the inability to meet every demand the players have.
“Of course the players are deserving of a lot more than we can offer… so all of this is a process of negotiations and we have to respect the will and requests of the players, but at the same time it does not mean we will be able to fulfil all requests from players,” he told Jamaican journalists after lengthy meetings with players at the Ayres Hotel on Monday.
Jamaica were also participants in the just-completed Copa America, where CONMEBOL is struggling to make due on promised pay to participants in that tournament. Such is what happens when most of your confederation’s chief players are under FIFA sanctions and unable to complete contracts previously signed because of the corruption.
While Monday’s sit-out of practice is just a first step, this could get nasty before it gets better. For a side looking to rebuild and get back towards the top of CONCACAF ahead of World Cup qualifying, this could be disastrous.
It’s not out of the question that upcoming friendlies or even qualifiers would be on the chopping block for a striking group of players. Threatening to sit those matches out would be a huge chip for the players to play if things get to that ugly point.
This puts all of the talk we’ve had on men’s and women’s monies in perspective — as not every men’s team is even capable of holding up its end of the bargain or giving a fair wage to its players, and FIFA gets billions from the men’s side of the game.