KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts said he expects the sport in the island to receive a huge boost after it was revealed that Jamaica will stage a couple of matches in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani announced on Tuesday in the Jamaica capital that the island will become the first Caribbean nation to host matches in the tournament with a double-header confirmed on June 17 at the National Stadium.
“We are very excited by what we can achieve after this Gold Cup,” said Ricketts. “I have always insisted that this JFF has one item on its agenda and that is to grow the sport of football.
“This will give us international exposure, as it is the first time a Gold Cup game will be played in the Caribbean. But Jamaica being chosen means we are recognised around the region and we want to keep that respect and grow the game.”
Jamaica will host a Group C double-header which will comprise the Reggae Boyz and seeded team Honduras, as well as two other teams to be known after the Gold Cup draw on April 10 in Los Angeles.
“I can tell you, this JFF is intent on changing the entire landscape of football in this country, and I am not blowing my trumpet, but I am blowing the trumpet of the entire JFF, including all the directors, all the staff members and to anybody who gives support to this federation,” said Ricketts.
“In February 2018 for the first time, not just in Jamaica, but in the Caribbean, we were able to host a FIFA summit. In October of last year, for the first time, not just in Jamaica, but in the Caribbean, we were able to have produced a senior women’s team that would have qualified for a global tournament, no ordinary achievement.
“Two weeks ago, we opened a brand-new facility at the Captain Horace Burrell UWI Technical Centre, where we laid a full-sized synthetic pitch for the first time. Perhaps, the greatest of all those, an announcement has been made by president Victor Montagliani that Jamaica, first time, at last, will be hosting a Gold Cup game.”
Jamaica contested the last two finals of the Gold Cup, where Mexico beat them 3-1 four years ago, and two years later, the United States edged them 2-1.
Government Senator Pearnel Charles, Jr, who represented Minister of Sports Olivia Grange, said he expected local fans to be energised by the news and to swell the stadium for the games.
“I must congratulate President Ricketts and all of those who have added value with us receiving this accolade, and we are going to make the most out of it,” said Charles.
“On behalf of the minister, on behalf of our prime minister, I want to make it very clear that the Ministry is fully behind CONCACAF and is ready to assist in any way it can in the staging of the 2019 Gold Cup championship.”