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Premier plight - Strong reactions after RSPL final marred by violence ... Officials worry about sponsors’ response ... Waterhouse could face sanctions

Published:Wednesday | May 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Portmore United’s Damian Williams (left) celebrates with teammate Romaine Brackenridge (right) after their team’s 1-0 win over Waterhouse in the Red Stripe Premier League final at the National Stadium on Monday.

There are concerns that Monday night’s disruption of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) final by unruly fans at the National Stadium will adversely affect the league’s ability to entice corporate support after missile-throwing incidents and an on-field bust-up between players marred the contest between Portmore United and Waterhouse.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts described the incident as disgraceful and promised sanctions while Pat Garel, general manager of the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA), the organisation responsible for the league’s marketing and sponsorship generation, was left hoping that the chaotic scenes would not affect ongoing talks with title sponsors Red Stripe.

“It was embarrassing, an absolute embarrassment, I must say. It was a totally unfortunate and embarrassing situation, that has simply given what has been a fairly good season a real black eye,” Garel told The Gleaner yesterday. “We hope the events of yesterday (Monday) will not negatively affect corporate Jamaica’s interest in the league because there have been major improvements.”

The match, which ended 1-0 in favour of Portmore, started in a tense tone, with players surrounding and bitterly contesting every call made by referee Odette Hamilton, who clearly had difficulties managing the game. A series of poor calls by the officiating crew caused additional irritation in the stands, and at around the 80-minute mark, missiles began raining on to the field and running track from a section of the Waterhouse supporters, resulting in a lengthy delay. There were other missile-throwing incidents in between, but things came to a boil on the pitch when Waterhouse’s Rafiek Thomas and Portmore’s Damian Williams got involved in a fistfight, which led to their expulsion from the game.

Ricketts, who advised that an investigation into the incident is ongoing, said that it painted a dim view of Jamaica’s football and warned that Waterhouse could face sanctions.

“It was nothing short of disgraceful and at a time when the game is being shown around the world. I have not seen this in football for a long time,” Ricketts said. “Waterhouse will be summoned to a disciplinary meeting in very short order, and based on evidence and what recommendations the disciplinary committee makes, then sanctions must be taken.”

Bicknell blasts fans

Waterhouse president, Donovan White, condemned his club’s role in the episode while chairman Bruce Bicknell blasted the guilty fans for bringing disgrace to the league, club, and community.

“Tonight was a black eye on the sport of football in this country, and we played a role in it, and for that, we must take responsibility and commit to ensuring this is never repeated,” White said.

“To the fans in the stands that threw missiles on to the field of play, this has absolutely no place in our sport. You should be ashamed for the embarrassment you have caused on the sport of football and your community,” Bicknell said.

It is left to be seen what the disciplinary committee decides, but according to league rules, public disturbance cases can attract a minimum fine of $200,000, for clubs, which can face other possible charges, while players can be fined at least $50,000 for the same offence.