Over the years, Jamaican players have missed out on the chance to play in the Premier League due to the nation’s low FIFA rankings, however, the latest FIFA rankings that were published on July 16, 2020, have placed the Reggae Boyz in the top 50 for the first time in over a decade.
As of today, Jamaica stands in 48th place. Though the island has failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1998, Jamaica has had a recent series of successful stints in international tournaments such as two impressive displays in the Gold Cup in which they lost to the United States in the 2017 final and then losing to the same opposition two years later but at the semifinal stage.
Jamaica has averaged a position of 60 since the FIFA World Rankings were initiated in 1992 and it is the first time that the country has remained consistent in holding unto a position in the top 50 for such a long time since 1998.
What does this mean for Jamaican players? Well, over the years many Jamaican footballers have had offers from clubs in England but have seen those deals fall through because they were unable to secure a work permit. One of the most famous instances was Andre Blake’s move to the Premier League that fell through in 2017 due to the country’s 61st ranking in the world at the time.
It was confirmed by Goal that both Brighton and Crystal Palace had made offers passing the million-dollar mark for the Jamaican shot-stopper but he was unable to secure a work permit in England.
Players who play regularly for countries in the top 50 of the FIFA World Rankings automatically qualify for a work permit in the country.
The Jamaican-born players that have made it to the Premier League have all left their mark in some way on England’s top flight. Reggae Boyz stalwarts like Ricardo Fuller and Ricardo Gardner lit up the league for years throughout the 2000s, while other players like Claude Davis, Luton Shelton and Jermaine Johnson all featured in short yet eventful stints in the league.
That was during a time when the restrictions on international players were not as strict as they are today. Since 2015, the U.K work permit restrictions were tightened from needing to be a regular player for a team in the top 70 of FIFA’s rankings, to the minimum threshold of the top 50.
With Blake still in the prime of his career, there may be some hope yet to finally see the Reggae Boyz captain making the move to England. If Jamaica is to maintain this position within the top 50, the next generation of Jamaican stars can become the latest to make their impact in the world’s best league and continue to fly the nation’s flag high in England.