Premier League duo Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion were denied the opportunity to sign one of the Major League Soccer's most coveted performers this summer solely because the player's home nation ranks too low on FIFA's ranking, according to a report in Goal.
Andre Blake, star stopper for both Philadelphia Union and home nation Jamaica, was sought after by the rival Premier League duo, particularly after his outstanding CONCACAF Gold Cup showing for the Reggae Boyz, but Blake was ultimately the 'victim of his national team's reputation of mediocrity.'
Players who feature regularly for their national teams ranked inside FIFA's top 50 automatically qualify for work permits, however, Jamaica are ranked 61st and have not been inside the top 50 for over a decade, meaning that Jamaican players are denied the chance of competing in the Premier League, irrespective of the club's desire and transfer resources.
"I knew everything all the way, and it's such a tough situation," Blake stated to Goal when speaking of his failed transfers this summer. "But I can't get too worked up over it, even though it's a very good opportunity I'm missing out on. Maybe it's not time yet, or maybe it wasn't meant to be. I've just got to keep working hard and maybe some day, somehow, if it's supposed to be it will happen.
"It's super tough, but it's something I can try my best to change," Blake said. "I can't do it on my own, but that's part of my job as captain, to make sure we go in and take every game very seriously, and for the guys to understand that, 'Listen, it's not just for me, it's for everyone. If we have better rankings it will open up opportunities for every one."
Many have argued that this is a cruel and unnecessary development, particularly in lieu of the ties between the two nations - the island was colonised and ruled by England for more than 300 years prior to gaining independence in 1962.
Jamaica did climb in rank this summer after defeating Mexico on the way to the Gold Cup final, where despite Blake's heroics in goal, the Reggae Boyz lost the United States. Despite climbing to 57 in the world, a paucity of World Cup qualifiers saw Jamaica drop to 61st.
For now, all that Blake and others can do is perform their best for their home nation and hope that their rankings improve enough that their Premier League dreams are realised.