Jamaican football leader Capt. Horace Burrell dies, aged 67

Horace Burrell

June 7 – Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) president and CONCACAF senior vice president Captain Horace Burrell has died, aged 67, following a battle against cancer.

Known universally throughout the football world simply as Captain, Burrell was a proud Jamaican and a politically powerful advocate for Caribbean football.

JFF president between 1994 and 2003, and from 2007 until his death yesterday, Captain also served as a member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and a Vice President of the Jamaica Olympic Association.

He was a political survivor having survived at the top political table of CONCACAF football throughout two major corruption scandals and the removal of three CONCACAF presidents.

Captain was a key figure in leading Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz to the 1998 World Cup in France, the first English speaking Caribbean nation to qualify for the finals.

Born the son of a tobacco grower, he later became a Captain with the Jamaica Defence Force where he was under the supervision of Ken Barnes, father of England international John Barnes. It was Barnes who pushed him into football administration and management.

Outside of football Captain was a successful businessman. He was founder of the Jamaican restaurant chain The Captain’s Bakery and Grill and in 1995, as well as Captain’s Aviation Services in 2008. He owned property in Jamaica and in Miami, Florida.

Captain was not completely unscathed in the various corruption scandals that have plagued the Caribbean. A close associate of Jack Warner, he was banned by FIFA in 2011 after the Mohammad Bin Hamman cash-for-votes scandal, though that ban was subsequently reduced to three months.

He was soon back in the political and administrative groove and following the US Department of Justice arrests in 2015 in the corruption scandal that shook the foundations of world governing body FIFA, and saw the removal of CONCACAF’s president Jeff Webb, interim president Alfred Hawit and executive committee member Eduardo Li, he was thrust into the limelight again. As CONCACAF’s senior vice-president he chaired the meeting that ushered in the reform package that was crucial for that confederation’s continued operations.

Captain always cut a well-tailored and dignified figure as he sought Jamaican qualified players that could represent his country at the highest levels. Never one to court media attention, he went about his business encouraging and supporting behind the scenes with quiet words in the right ears.

Despite his illness he remained active attending Caribbean Football Union and CONCACAF meetings.

His passing leaves a big gap in Caribbean football’s political hierarchy and influence.

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