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Football – History

Records available indicate that football was introduced in Jamaica towards the end of the 19th century, but 1893 is listed as the year Jamaica formed its first football club.

Jamaica’s made its first international appearance against Caribbean neighbours Haiti in 1925 for a three-game series. Jamaica won all three games by 1-0, 2-1 and 3-0 margins.

The following year Jamaica hosted their Haitians counterparts at Sabina Park and won 6-0. The Haitians defeated Jamaica for the first time in 1932 with a 4-1 home win in Port-au-Prince.

Between 1925 and when Jamaica gained independence in 1962, Jamaica had regular games with Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Cuba and clubs like Racing and Violette from Haiti, Corinthians of Britain, the Tigers from Argentina, and even a series of matches with a Caribbean All Stars team in 1952.

Those friendly international games were the start of Jamaica’s football quest with most of the home matches being played at Sabina Park. Many clubs were established during that time including Kensington, Melbourne, Kingston, Lucas and St. George’s Old Boys, thus providing the talent Jamaica needed at the time.

Under the leadership of Brazilian coach Jorge Penna in 1965, Jamaica made its first attempt at World Cup qualifying. This was for the 1966 World Cup finals in England.

Jamaica made it to the final group of three, which included Costa Rica and Mexico. The winner of the group would represent the CONCACAF region at the FIFA World Cup.

But Jamaica lost at home to Mexico 3-2 and in the return leg in Mexico City under high altitude they were crushed 8-0. Jamaica lost 7-0 to Costa Rica in their first encounter and had a 1-1 tie when they played at home.

In 1968 coach George Hamilton took leadership as Jamaica made an attempt to qualify for the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. Jamaica had only a few remaining players from the previous World Cup team and had to rebuild because most of the players had retired or migrated to North America and England.

Jamaica lost all of their qualifying games in that year.

The country did not participate in the qualifiers for the 1974 World Cup because 17 players on the team were suspended for poor behaviour on a tour to Bermuda.

And for the 1982 World Cup in Spain Jamaica did not participate in the qualifiers because of financial problems.  The country also did not take part in the 1986 World Cup because of suspension for affiliation fees that were due to FIFA.