Empty stadium for Reggae Boyz, USA clash - JFF surprised by government decision to not allow vaccinated fans to attend match

By Sports Desk October 28, 2021

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will face another empty stadium for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States, after a request for permission to have fully vaccinated fans attend the game was denied by the government.

The Jamaicans are scheduled to face the United States in a crucial encounter on November 16, as the team looks to push itself back into contention for a spot at next year’s World Cup. 

So far, the team is the only country not to allow fans into the stadium, in some capacity.  However, with an estimate of just 12.4 percent of the population being fully vaccinated Jamaica also has the lowest rate of any nation in the final round and is the only one below 20 percent.

According to a recent press release the denial was based on concerns regarding the capacity and logistics required to ensure that only vaccinated persons were allowed inside the stadium.  The decision caught Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Michael Ricketts off guard as, according to him, the football body had harboured optimism of having fans return in some capacity for the upcoming round, following positive talks with government entities.

“We had discussions with persons from the Ministry of Health and we would have put our ID unit in motion.  In fact, one suggestion was that we would merge both ID entities so that once you apply for a ticket the JFF could say to you we can or cannot verify your vaccination,” Ricketts told TVJ.

“We put everything in place, all the plans.  We made several site visits.  We were working closely with IPL on how to have the patrons seated.  We had a meeting and went through all the protocols and that gave us the confidence that we would have been permitted to have fans.”

The government has indicated, however, that the proposal is under review and the request could be granted in time for the January round of matches. The team is currently in 6th place on 5 points, three outside of an automatic qualifying spot.

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