The ongoing saga between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and Craig Butler is as persistent as a fly going in on a carcass. In what is an insult to supporters of the Reggae Boyz, Butler continues to keep his adopted son, the prodigiously talented Leon Bailey, away from the national programme until his ludicrous ransom of control is met.
It is not difficult to recognise an opportunist, and Butler is just that.
Slowly but surely, his true intentions are being exposed. Quite rightly, the Federation has not ceded to his demands and have insisted that he follow due process. This does not exonerate the JFF as they too have done Jamaica a great disservice since their sole World Cup qualification in 1998. Plagued with nepotism, corruption and mismanagement in the past, the Reggae Boyz have stumbled and stuttered in the 20 years since the euphoria following a nil-nil draw with Mexico at the Office.
This does not give Butler the right – he has convinced himself – is due to him to table demands and wishes. He possesses one bargaining chip, his son Chippy. What he also possesses are a bag of half-truths, fantastical stories and downright lies. He proclaims to have the best interests of Jamaican football at heart, but to any keen observer of this long-winded storyline, the intention is clear. Craig Butler cares about Craig Butler.
Is Arjen Robben aware he set records for speed dribbling at Ajax, a club he never played for?
From those aggrandising statements to ones about being part of the Genk coaching setup to being embroiled in a youth player trafficking controversy, Butler has been involved in a bit of everything. Those missteps – probably with the intent of making his sons look really good on television – are around the internet (and links provided here) for those who are so inclined to search, but the overriding issue that makes all that secondary is his current behaviour. You needn’t see more.
His wanting St. Andrews FC of Maltese league player Kyle Butler, his biological son, and his other academy players to be included in this package deal reeks of hypocrisy in that the nepotism he accuses the JFF of is a crucial component of his modus operandi. When challenged to put his money where his mouth is, the inevitable reaction is to renege and find an excuse to wriggle free from letting Bailey be part of Jamaica’s national team.
If he truly has Jamaica’s best interests at heart, then Leon Bailey should have already played, with or without his elevation to a Technical Director post.
What Butler says does have some merit. Jamaica’s football has, in the past, been hamstrung by the lack of a clear philosophy. Where he insults the intelligence of his countrymen is that he believes his observations are uniquely his own and that he is the only one able to enact change.
In a sense, his passion is founded on semi-truths. Blessed with speed and athleticism, Jamaicans only falter when it comes to the understanding of the game. When that side of the game is looked after, we produce players of the ilk of Ricardo ‘Bibi’ Gardner, Ricardo ‘Wiley Boo’ Fuller, Lindy Delaphena, and Chippy himself. Any well thinking Reggae Boyz fan sees this. This potential is also in evidence in players who have been educated outside Jamaica in Liverpool legend John Barnes, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling. His opinions on no clear system at the schoolboy level also are merited. All the major footballing nations are characterised by a system of play and an identity. As he terms it, Phoenix (his Football Academy) players aspire to Jamaican athletic ability and European technique and understanding of the game. This is wholly true.
There are bags of potential in Jamaican football.
However, the erratic Craig Butler who thinks it appropriate to privately message individuals to throw insults befitting of a woman scorned is not the man to take Jamaica’s football forward. This is unfortunate since he does have a record of some credibility (and some incredibility) in player development and promotion. His one publicly known strike is a major positive. Leon Bailey’s career path knows no bounds at the moment. The Craig Butler who continues to contradict prior statements having stated that his boys would be available for selection is not the man. There are undoubted frictions and he clearly holds a grudge. This is not what is concerning. The grudges could be founded. He has not elevated himself above the squabbles that hold the football back. He’s firmly entrenched and no better than the people he criticises.
The silence of Leon Bailey is deafening. True, the man is his agent and father to whom he owes so much and may feel indebted to; but also true is that Bailey is his own man. His father should satisfy the passion Bailey purports to have for Jamaican football.
Nobody said it was an easy road, certainly not Buju Banton.
If he is indeed prepared to wait eight years to qualify for the German national team, then he is a chip off the old block for that is pure insanity. He has the chance to be a pioneer, the man to ignite interest in the national programme from the many talented men who are afraid to take the leap even if it meant holding out for an unlikely England call. The uninformed comments by friend, the legendary Usain Bolt, about Bailey being too good for the national team also hold no water because Mohamed Salah, George Weah, George Best, David Alaba, Dwight Yorke, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gheorghe Hagi, Gareth Bale and Hristo Stoichov exist.
There has to be this pioneer, the individual who has the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile, especially when it is new and different – Alfred P. Sloan
Butler considers himself a pioneer. If he truly does elevate himself to such lofty heights, then follow due process. Let it be said you tried and were rejected than that you didn’t, and held to selfish demands and childish rhetoric. Great men do not specialise in the petty. Leon Bailey is the one who truly has the chance to be the pioneer for he has the special talent to make the difference that no one administrator. can Butler or any man heading Jamaica’s football needs a team of good men in his vicinity, whether as part or as the head.
What Chippy needs is to be his own man and speak with his own voice. Do the best for himself and if that coincides with representing the land of his birth internationally, so be it.