Jamaican FA leaves history making Reggae Girlz stranded in Houston

July 26 – Days after the Jamaican women’s team created Caribbean football history with back-to-back qualifications for the World Cup, the team and their luggage were left stranded in Houston, Texas, on their way home from Monterrey, Mexico.

The team were stuck because there was not enough money to clear their luggage. They reportedly missed their connecting flight to Miami as a result. Some members of the team and staff who wanted to travel with their luggage, paid from their pockets to have their bags cleared.

Two members of staff reportedly then stayed behind with the luggage, making arrangements to travel the following day.

It is the second time in two months a Jamaican full national team has been left stranded in a foreign country while on international duty. In June, the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) left their men’s team stranded in Suriname after a Concacaf Nation’s League match. The team were supposed to share a charter jet with Suriname for the return fixture days later in Jamaica, but the JFF did not pay its share of the cost.

Controversial Jamaica Football Federation president Michael Ricketts has remained silent on the Reggae Girlz situation – a team that he has refused to fully fund with a full training programme and whose next steps towards preparing for the 2023 World Cup are unclear, with coach Lorne Donaldson not confirmed as to whether he will continue in the role having only stepped in in June.

The debacle is yet another disastrous outcome in Ricketts’ tenure as JFF president. The JFF receives over $500,000 a year from FIFA to run its business, including women’s football, though where that money is being spent is unclear according to Jamaican insiders.

Ricketts was not even in Monterrey to see his national team become the first men’s or women’s team from the Caribbean to make it two World Cups. Only four men’s teams from the Caribbean have ever qualified for a World Cup finals – Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The Reggae Girlz have done it twice.

In a press release the JFF did apologise “unreservedly to members of the senior women’s football team and technical staff who faced embarrassing challenges in respect of movement of luggage on July 19 as they travelled home”.

But it was not before team captain and one of the tournament’s star players Khadija Shaw posted on Instagram page saying: “Less than 24 hours after finishing a successful tournament and qualifying for back-to-back World Cups, only to arrive at the airport to be stuck with 24 pieces of bags and no funds to pay for them. JFF how are we getting home?”

The JFF said: “Quite frankly, after their historic achievement of qualifying for consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments that experience should not have happened.

“We recognise that there have been recurring problems with travel arrangements of our national teams’ movement and commit to doing all within our power and control to correct these incidents.

“Once again our deepest regrets, including football supporters who expressed concerns.”

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