No more excuses, Jamaica must qualify for the World Cup

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on July 30, 2018, in the Western Mirror.

The JFF has no more excuses if the Jamaican national football team fails to qualify for the future editions of the FIFA World Cup.

The Jamaican national football at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
(Source: Thomas Cantwell/LinkedIn)

Jamaica’s first attempt to qualify for the World Cup almost saw Jamaica playing in its motherland in 1966, just four years after Independence. For the 1966 qualifiers, ten teams in CONCACAF were down to contest for a single spot in the 1966 World Cup. However, Guatemala’s entry was rejected by FIFA, which left the confederation with nine teams to play in three groups of three teams each.

Jamaica, then under the leadership of Brazilian coach Jorge Penna, had beaten Cuba and the Netherlands Antilles in its first two games, each by a score of 2-0. The goals for Jamaica in the first game against Cuba came from Oscar Black in the 11th minute and Patrick Blair in the 51st minute before 10,100 screaming fans in the National Stadium. By the second game, 12,264 fans in the National Stadium beheld Lascelles Dunkley’s brace on either side of half-time, which placed Jamaica in pole position in the group on four points from two games. Jamaica drew with Netherlands Antilles, 0-0, in their third game to secure their spot in the final round with their loss in the fourth and final game of the first round to Cuba inconsequential to their advancement. As a result, Jamaica joined Mexico and Costa Rica, the winners of the two other groups, in the final round of qualification. Continue reading

World Cup 2018 Review: records, thrills and spills

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on July 23, 2018 in the Western Mirror

The 2018 FIFA World Cup saw numerous records being broken,  gave several fans the pulsating thrill of victory while breaking many hearts with the spills in defeat.

Luka Modric (left) and Kylian Mbappe (right) won the 2018 FIFA World Cup Best Player and Best Young Player awards respectively.
(Source: Goal.com)

After 32 teams took part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, France, the 1998 winners were champions again. Even though we may attempt, a World Cup can never be summarised into a single sentence. However, this World Cup was the tournament of set pieces, pulsating games, stunning upsets and heartbreak.

FIFA, the international governing body for football, introduced video assistant referees (VAR) in full at the 2018 World Cup. VAR, which suffered much criticism at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, must be considered a success at this tournament. Though in the opinion of some individuals, VAR has not gotten every decision right or has not covered every decision on the field, nevertheless, when called upon, VAR has done more good than harm. Continue reading

The real reason the JFF cannot pay Whitmore big bucks

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on April 23, 2018 in the Western Mirror & Jamaica Today

Various reasons have been proffered by the public as to why the JFF cannot remunerate Theodore Whitmore on a similar scale to past national football coaches. Here is the likely reason. 

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange (centre) shares a moment with President, Jamaica Football Federation, Michael Ricketts (right) and National Coach, Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore (left), after chairing a mediation session which resulted in Coach Whitmore withdrawing his resignation and the JFF offering him a new contract.
(Credit: Jamaica Information Service)

Theodore Whitmore, a Jamaica hero on the World Cup stage, withdrew his resignation last week after a joint meeting with the Jamaica Football Federation president, Michael Ricketts and the Minister of Sports in Jamaica, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.

A few days earlier, several media reports surfaced that Whitmore had resigned from his post of head coach of Jamaica’s senior football team. Several members of the public were furious at the circumstances that seemingly led Whitmore to tender his resignation. Central to the matter was the unresolved salary negotiation, which had dragged on for months, and the meagre salary he was being offered and was currently receiving.

For many individuals, the salary offer was measly in comparison to the salaries of previous coaches with lighter skin tones from foreign lands. Many individuals even became religious as they quoted the famous mantra from the gospel of Mark, “a prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own hometown.” Unwittingly, this chant became the undercurrent of discussions locally, especially with Whitmore’s once growing stance on FIFA’s Technical committee. Continue reading

Jamaica’s Top-25 Sporting Moments of the past 25 years

By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published March 14, 2018 in the Jamaica Observer’s 25th Anniversary Supplement

A chronological look at the top-25 sporting achievements during the 25 years of the Jamaica Observer.

Asafa Powell wins Olympic gold for Jamaica in men’s 4x100m relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
(Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Jamaican athletes have been outstanding performers across multiple sporting disciplines, including cricket, track and field, boxing, netball, football and swimming. Choosing Jamaica’s top-25 Sporting Moments of the past 25 years is no easy feat and ranking the top-25 moments is an even more impossible task. Henceforth, picking the easier of the two assignments, let’s have a look at Jamaica’s top-25 sporting moments — in chronological order — over the 25-year existence of the Jamaica Observer. Continue reading

Five Reasons Neymar’s Move To PSG Makes Sense

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Broadcast August 5, 2017 on Sportsnation Live on Nationwide News Network
Published August 14, 2017

Speculation is rife as to why Neymar would leave Barcelona for PSG. Here are five reasons why I think he made the move.

Neymar signed with Paris Saint Germain for 200 million pounds
(Credit: Getty)

The expected discussion this week in the sports world should have been solely about Usain Bolt’s swansong in London at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. However, with world football undergoing an upheaval this week with Barcelona’s star Neymar making the switch to Paris Saint Germain for a record fee of 200 million pounds, let’s just say, we forgot about athletics for a second.

To put it into perspective, 200 million pounds is 33 billion Jamaican dollars. Bear in mind, this does not include his salary, which is little over 40 million pounds per year for the next five years. So, that amounts to another 200 million pounds. Therefore, the entire switch and wages will cost PSG roughly 400 million pounds, that’s in excess of 67 billion Jamaica dollars. Makes me want to ask Minister Shaw what’s Jamaica’s annual budget again? Continue reading