Jamaica’s progress through to the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is built on a strong defense, but just as important to their on pitch success are a GoFundMe page and the help of the Caribbean island’s most famous son — Bob Marley.
(Bloomberg) — Jamaica’s progress through to the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is built on a strong defense, but just as important to their on pitch success are a GoFundMe page and the help of the Caribbean island’s most famous son — Bob Marley.
Ahead of their last 16 match against Colombia on Tuesday, the success of the self-styled Reggae Girlz, has reignited a debate around the vast disparities in resources between the tournament’s teams. Jamaica, ranked 43 in the world, drew 0-0 with Brazil on Wednesday to reach the last 16, in one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history.
The success comes just weeks after the team wrote to the Jamaican Football Federation to express its disappointment at what it called the governing body’s “subpar” support ahead of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Matches were missed due to disorganization and players had no contracts stating what they’d be paid, the letter said.
Rebecca Spencer, who plays in goal for English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and Jamaica, said her team, which remains unbeaten and is yet to concede a goal, is inspiring a generation with its performances.
“We fight a battle constantly,” Spencer said, when asked about funding support from Jamaican authorities at a news conference after Wednesday’s match. “The better we do, the more pressure it creates. We hope that they’re looking at us and taking us seriously now.”
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness celebrated the team’s qualification for the knockout stage, writing on social media, “Greatness is in our blood!”
Lack of financial and logistical support aren’t new problems for Jamaica’s soccer players, who’ve had a history of turning to donors for help. The Bob Marley Foundation has stepped in over recent years to cover costs related to training, travel and coaching. A crowdfunding page set up by the mother of one of the players on GoFundMe raised about $65,000.
“Surely, if I’m the Jamaican federation, just open your bank account, give them some money,” said Amy Harrison, who has played for the Australian national team and is working with the country’s broadcaster as a pundit. “Look at this team.”
The Jamaica Football Federation said no one was available to comment.
South Africa, which secured its first ever Women’s World Cup win by beating Italy 3-2 to reach the knockout stage, has also been embroiled in pay disputes and player protests, and required an African foundation to step in to provide additional funding.
Lisa Quarrie, co-founder of the Reggae Girlz Foundation which has also raised money for the national side, said the lack of funding meant the team wasn’t able to play as many friendly matches before the World Cup compared to teams with better finances.
“We are very proud of them,” Quarrie said. “They have crawled, scraped, fought and endured. Despite the poor funding, they have beat the odds.”
Leigh Lehman, director of communications at GoFundMe, said that the platform continues to see fundraising efforts that focus on women’s and girls’ sports. Additional attempts to raise money have also been launched to help college teams, journalists and photographers attend the Women’s World Cup and cover their expenses.
Progress to the round of 16 means players should double their individual prize money. FIFA instructs national federations to pay each player $30,000 for participation during the group stage, growing to $60,000 if they reach the knockout round. A place in the quarter finals would mean $90,000, FIFA has said.
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–With assistance from Jim Wyss.
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