Speid slams new Concacaf Olympic qualification format

September 21, 2021
Speid
Speid

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) technical committee chairman, Rudolph Speid, says the federation does not support Concacaf's decision to use the regional Under-20 championships as a qualification tournament for the Olympic Games but a decision has been made and they must step in line.

The Concacaf Council recently approved a new approach which will link FIFA's Under-20 World Cup qualification and Olympic qualification to the Confederation's Under-20 Championships, which will take place in the summer of 2022.

The first phase of the qualifiers begins in November with 19 countries, all ranked 17 and below in the Concacaf men's Under-20 rankings.

The top four teams from the qualifiers and the region's top 16 ranked teams, which includes Jamaica, will all receive byes to the championship.

The four semi-finalists will qualify for the FIFA men's Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia in 2023, while the finalists will book their tickets to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games.

Speid argued that the decision is a slap in the face for countries with less advanced youth development systems and that it favours countries with greater infrastructure and development.

Nevertheless, he said there is nothing that can be done about the decision and that the focus is to get the team prepared to challenge for a spot at the tournament next year.

"For Jamaica it is not a good thing but if Concacaf says we have to play, we have to play," Speid said.

According to Speid, there are certain countries that do better at the Under-20 level than the Olympics, so those teams will have an advantage.

"We know who the better Under-20 teams are. But we will work with what we get, even though we don't like it.

"We have cried (about it) already, so we just have to move on to the next stage," he contends.

He also thinks it will affect the development of some players making the transition from the national youth programme.

Players born in 2001 will not be eligible to play in the Concacaf championship but will qualify to represent the team if they make it to the Olympics.

"Players born in 2001 will be totally shut out of the qualifiers. The players that will be eligible are born after. But if we qualify for the Olympics, those players born in 2001 apparently can come back and play, because those are the ones that are going to be 23 for the Olympics. We are concerned that we will leave out that development year for those born in 2001. So the development gap will adversely affect Jamaica," Speid said.

Tomorrow the technical committee will meet to discuss the subject and to also appoint the coach of the team.

Speid revealed that they have already identified the person for the job and it's only for the recommendation to be approved by the JFF board.

Although the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) is the only active competition being played locally, Speid is confident they will not have much difficulty assembling a competitive squad for the upcoming tournament.

"One of the good things is our Premier League has just reached the play-off stage, so we can find a team of Under-20s and Under-17s," he said.

"We will also look to go overseas and see if we can find a few players and add those players," he added.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com

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