Jamaica Women's National Team Goes On Strike After 9 Months Without Pay

The Jamaica women’s national team has announced that it will refuse to play until it receives the compensation that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) owes them.

The Reggae Girlz, who are reportedly owed nine months of backpay, became the first-ever women’s national team from a Caribbean nation to qualify for the Women’s World Cup earlier this year. Although their inaugural trip to the tournament doesn't appear successful on the surface — the team left without winning a single point — this was a massive step for Jamaica on the world stage, and it was the first World Cup the nation had participated in since the men’s team qualified in 1998.

According to Thinkprogress, the women’s national team signed a contract with the JFF in May which promised the players a monthly stipend worth $500 to $1,200 (depending on the players) through August of 2019, while also assuring to compensate the team for backpay it had been owed since January.

None of that money has been paid, although the JFF just recently released a statement that half of the money that is owed to the players will be wired to them by the end of the week. Even after hearing this announcement, the players stated that it's not enough for them to end the boycott.

The JFF claims that it hasn't paid because it has yet to receive the prize money from FIFA, which is a weak argument as the deal at no point specified that these monthly contracts were dependent on the prize money, and the payment plan should’ve started before the World Cup even began.

For players like Nicole McClure, these stipends were supposed to be her only source of income: “I don’t get paid on my club team, I was banking on this monthly stipend. Women footballers don’t get paid nearly enough to survive on their own. On average we don’t get paid nearly as much as the last person on the men’s team.”

The team has taken the strike to social media, with several players releasing personal statements about the situation:

Because the JFF never paid the women their stipends, many of the players had to pay for their trip to the Women’s World Cup in France out of their own pocket. The Jamaica women’s national team has put a massive amount of time and effort into creating a brighter future for women’s soccer in Jamaica, and it’s time the men at the top of the JFF do the same.

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