The Bob and Rita Marley Foundations announced the end of their financial support for the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) national women’s program after what the general counsel for the Foundations, Lecia-Gaye Taylor, described as a “long and meaningful partnership.”
Proud of the Growth of Women’s Football
The Foundations expressed pride in how women’s football has grown in Jamaica during their partnership with the HFF but stated that changing circumstances between the team and the Federation required a review of funding priorities. Because of the Foundations’ altered focus and funding priorities, it was decided that financial support for the JFF women’s program could no longer be continued. However, the Foundations also stated their continued commitment to empowering girls and developing women’s football in Jamaica and would do so through the Football Is Freedom initiative.
Marley says JFF is Not Receptive or Interested In Her Support
Marley said that she had shared a vision with Captain Horace Burrell when she first joined the team to bring “help and support,” and after reaching that understanding, the Foundations and other partners invested nearly US$3 million toward growing and developing the Reggae Girlz national team. She said she was disappointed at how things have turned out, particularly noting that, following the team’s historic performance at the Women’s World Cup, she had believed that all parties would work together for the team’s benefit, but that had not occurred.
Cedella Marley cites “ongoing issues” with senior World Cup Representatives and the JFF
In a press release on January 4, 2024, Cedella Marley announced she would no longer serve as the Global Ambassador for the Reggae Girlz and that her resignation would be effective immediately. She cited ongoing issues with the senior World Cup representatives of the national women’s team and the JFF, stating the current situation involving the team and officials was the chief reason for her departure from a partnership with Jamaica’s football governing body that had started some 10 years ago. Marley noted that she worked with the JFF to raise funds for the women’s team and contributed to their FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifications in 2019 and 2023 and expressed her disappointment and concern “with the turn things have taken” recently. She added there was an “ever-widening rift” between the governing body and the team that was “very alarming.” She said her attempts at resolving the problems were met with a response that was “noncommittal” and “generic.”
In a statement issued on January 5, 2024, the JFF expressed sadness about Marley’s decision to resign as Global Ambassador and stated that it was “eternally grateful” for the support she and the Foundation had provided to the women’s football program over the past decade, which resulted in reaching historic goals that no other team in the Caribbean has achieved. The president of the JFF, Michael Ricketts, called Cedella Marley’s resignation an “unfortunate departure,” especially as the JFF had thought that noteworthy progress had been made through discussions between Marley and the agency. He added that the JFF is waiting for the World Cup players to come back to the governing body and “advise of their availability.” Ricketts also wanted to assure Marley that the gains made with her support will be solidified as the team moves into the future.