KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s historic women’s soccer team, the Reggae Girlz have vowed that they will not play another soccer match for Jamaica until they are paid their salaries from this summer’s world cup campaign.
Several members of the Reggae Girlz team, namely Bunny Shaw, Trudi Carter, Ashleigh Shim, Chinyelu Asher, Havana Solaun, Toriana Patterson, Allyson Swaby, and Lauren Silver, took to social media to announce the strike, with an image that read “No Pay No Play”.
Reggae Girlz star player Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, under her Instagram post, wrote:
“First Caribbean team to qualify for a World Cup. We have made a lot of sacrifices to wear the colors of Jamaica. We have respected and worn the colors with pride. We are in a position where we are literally fighting just to get paid by legal agreements. This ain’t just about money, it’s about change, change in the way women football is viewed especially in Jamaica. We deserve more and they can do better. For this reason, I along with my teammates won’t be participating in any future tournaments until being paid.”
The JFF President, Michael Ricketts responded to the allegations of unpaid salaries, saying he does not know what could have possibly prompted a strike. According to Ricketts, the players are owed US$120,000 and half that amount was transferred through Sagicor Bank last week.
During that time, team manager Jean Nelson had been in communication with the players informing them that some money had been transferred to their accounts and that the balance would be paid once they received the US$750,000 earned at the World Cup, to be paid at the end of September.
But the players have insisted that they have not been paid the US$60,000 that Ricketts claimed to have been sent. “My teammates and I have not received any money. Our agreement ended on August 30 and today is September 2 and there is nothing pending,” Lauren Silver.
In anticipation that they would not have been paid in a timely manner, the Reggae Girlz have come together, forming their own union to contest the JFF’s claims.
No Financial Support From The JFF
The Reggae Girlz were the first Caribbean team ever to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this summer, and received an outpour of support from fans all over the world for being the underdogs of the tournament. Another aspect of the Reggae Girlz journey that gained worldwide media attention was the lack of financial support they received from the JFF.
While the winners of the Women’s World Cup, United States were vocal about receiving equal pay, Jamaica’s team were also battling the same issue. The Reggae Girlz have been completely cut off TWICE by the JFF, receiving no support for jerseys, training gears or other necessities. Many of the girls had to work other jobs to support themselves, only practicing when they could get time off.
The change came when Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley, stumbled upon the Girlz team, heard of their financial difficulties and decided to help.
Marley, along with Alessandra Lo Savio, a co-founder of the Alacran Foundation, which does philanthropy work in Jamaica, and head coach Hue Menzies (who took on the job without a salary), gave the Reggae Girlz the financial and mental support they needed to make the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Despite the support they receive from Marley and company, the team still struggles financially and the JFF has not done enough to prove that they are in support of the team.