The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the most powerful sporting body in the world and it should be.

FIFA is in control of 211 football associations throughout the world, in a sport that is the most popular and profitable on the globe.

However, the association hasn’t always used that power in the most judicious ways and recently went through a harrowing couple of years with evidence of widespread corruption beating down on its reputation.

Many bans and jail sentences later, FIFA has tried to change its image with new, progressive bosses with a more inclusive management style.

But, in truth, FIFA is a fiefdom and that was made very clear in the events in Trinidad and Tobago over the last week.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) board does not exist anymore and its president, scratch that, former president, looks set for a lengthy legal battle to change that.

I do not want to get into the who is right and who is wrong, even though there are questions FIFA should answer.

Here are the facts as we know them.

An arm of FIFA called the Bureau of the FIFA Council investigated the financial affairs of the TTFA, which had just gone through the process of electing a new president in William Wallace just over three months before.

According to the council’s findings, the TTFA was in bad shape financially, so bad, that it risked the possibility of insolvency if the situation were not arrested.

Further, the council says it found that there was no plan to assuage the situation, leading it to replace the TTFA’s board with a normalization committee that would be in place for a maximum of two years after which it would hold elections to create a new board with its own mandate.

On an interim basis, FIFA installed former TTFA Finance Manager Tyril Patrick to oversee the day-to-day activities of the organization before the normalization committee could be properly vetted, organized and begin to work.

According to FIFA, that normalization committee would be given a mandate to:

  • Run the TTFA’s daily affairs;
  • Establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA;
  • Review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress;
  • Organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate.

 

But today, the TTFA has no direction as interim boss, Patrick, declined the position after lawyers for Wallace wrote to him, calling his appointment illegal, or at the very least unconstitutional.

In fact, the former TTFA boss has not taken his ousting lying down and is contemplating taking his grouses to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, pointing out that FIFA has ignored his plans to get the TTFA out of debt and is claiming prejudice against his administration, pointing first up to the timing of the ‘coup d’etat’ and the implications of a friendship with the TTFA’s previous boss, as well as inconsistencies regarding a FIFA-TTFA joint project dubbed ‘The Home of Football’.   

I won’t look at any of that, however. I am more interested in the entrenched laws that allow FIFA to make a decision of this nature.

Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, Randy Harris sympathises with the ousted TTFA administration but believes FIFA well within their rights to install a normalization committee.

Harris is right because of article 8.2 of the FIFA statute.

Article 8.2 states: ‘Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time’.

It is here that I have a problem though.

I suppose, FIFA, as arbiters of the sport, must have in its bylaws, appropriate actions to ensure the continued growth of the sport throughout the world, but I find this article distasteful.

The article admits that the council is removing an ‘Executive’ body which has been duly elected by administrators of the sport within a country. This means, FIFA is saying it reserves the right to ignore the democracy of an entity when it has a mind to do so.

I say ‘has a mind’, because it is the council who decides what is an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and in this instance, it very well might be. But the fact that it is FIFA making this judgement, is problematic.

Each Member Association has elections and it is there that they decide if the fate of their organization can be managed by its leaders. It should certainly not be as easy as it was for FIFA to overturn that decision.

It means, in essence, if a Member Association does not operate its own affairs just the way FIFA says it should, and each country has a different set of circumstances to deal with that could mean varying ways of operating such affairs, then you could find that you have no say.

Harris pointed to this fact in a radio interview with Trinidad and Tobago’s i955 FM’s ISports radio, saying “The Trinidad and Tobago FA has found itself in a sad situation which all of us in the Caribbean could be in tomorrow.”

Therein lies my problem. This particular ‘takeover’ may very well be warranted with the TTFA in debt to the tune of TT$50 million, the question is, who decides this, and how can it be that ‘little’ Member Associations have no say in deciding whether or not they need outside help?

The FIFA Normalisation Committee set to take over the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association will find themselves without a dollar to do so after a court order gave former accountant, Kendall Walkes, the power to empty the organisation’s accounts in lieu of moneys owed.

According to reports, the TTFA accounts stand at TT$300,000 while Walkes is owed a little more than TT$5 million.

Walkes attorney, Melissa Roberts-John, had said on Tuesday that the movement of the funds was awaiting the court’s registrar’s signature but that that had been delayed because of the smaller staff at work due to attempts to stave off the spread of COVID-19.

While the amount is but a fraction of what is owed, Walkes’ attorney believes a message has been sent.

“It is nothing much, but every drop fills the bucket,” Roberts-John told T&T website Wired868.

“It sends a message to the TTFA because I don’t think they want all their line of creditors to do what we did.”

While the TTFA will regain power over its accounts once Walkes has emptied it, his attorney indicated that there could be more garnishings if the organisation does not negotiate repayment of the balance of the debt.

“Now, we will write the TTFA requiring payment for the outstanding balance. If nothing comes of that, we can seek a further order,” said Roberts-John.

There has been no response from the TTFA on the issue after FIFA ordered the organisation’s board to vacate offices and appointed a Normalisation Committee to sort out its financial affairs.

Even without the FIFA takeover, the TTFA’s offices were closed as part of social distancing methods to fight the spread of COVID-19 and paused the training sessions of all national teams.

Still, Roberts-John feels the TTFA’s response has been too slow.

“We wrote them on 21 February 2020 with our proposal and they acknowledged receipt on 27 February and said they will revert to me once they have a figure in mind. And that was their last response,” said Roberts-John.

“[…] We have heard nothing about our proposal since, which doesn’t surprise me anymore. But we are still willing to negotiate—that has not been taken off the table.”

Former England defender, coach of Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh in the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Pro League, Terry Fenwick, has been named the head coach of the twin-island republic’s senior football team, the Soca Warriors.

Sacked head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago men’s national team, Dennis Lawrence, will be replaced as early as next weekend to give the new boss time to help the side prepare for a two-legged CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff against either Guyana or Barbados.

The next FIFA match window is in March of 2020, giving the new coach just three months between the first acid test and turning the fortunes of the Soca Warriors around.

Trinidad and Tobago are in freefall at the moment, winning just one game in 2019 and currently lie at 104th in the world, just a few ranking places above its lowest all-time position.

A statement from the William Wallace-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association on Sunday confirmed the sacking of the 45-year-old coach, who has been in charge of the national team since January 2017.

According to reports coming out of Trinidad and Tobago, the TTFA’s board had a nine-hour meeting Saturday at the Ato Boldon Stadium. It was at that meeting that the decision was taken to relieve the coach of his duties.

The TTFA’s statement said Lawrence’s representatives and the board will meet to determine the terms of his departure.

Under Lawrence, Trinidad played 31 matches. They won five, drew seven and lost 19 for a win percentage of 16.13 per cent.

In those matches, TT scored 36 goals while conceding 53.

Despite that poor record, Lawrence may be another in a long list of coaches to be owed significant amounts by the TTFA.

The coach had two years left on his contract and had delayed signing that contract until a performance clause for his sacking was removed.

The clause had said Lawrence had to maintain an annual success rate of 40 per cent while dropping no more than six points in the FIFA rankings.

Lawrence has overseen a 20-point drop in the rankings stemming from 795 days without winning a competitive game.

It is not yet known who the William Wallace-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have been considering as replacement for Lawrence, but when the former T&T defender was given the job, Stephen Hart, Terry Fenwick and Stuart Charles-Fevrier were the names on the shortlist.

Hart recently said the job was not one he would consider under the circumstances that existed in Trinidad & Tobago.

Dennis Lawrence has been fired as head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national senior team with immediate effect.

Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president and Port of Spain Mayor, Raymond Tim Kee is dead.

The 71-year-old Tim Kee, passed on Sunday at his Flagstaff home after a long ailment, leaving the football fraternity in mourning.

TTFA President William Wallace issued condolences to the family, saying he had lost, not just a colleague in football, but a friend.

“He was a good human being who cared for his fellow men. As an administrator, he never micromanaged but instead allowed guided initiative. He had the game at heart and was one of those persons who hurt over the last couple years,” said Wallace in an interview with T&T website Wired868.

Wallace was the National Senior Team manager during Tim Kee’s term in office.

“I salute the memory of an exceptional man who I knew as a voice of reason. My heartfelt sympathy condolences to his entire family,” he said.

Wallace’s comments were made on the back of a TTFA statement, which also issued condolences, remembering Tim Kee as a kind-hearted man, ‘devoted and committed to serving his country the best way he could.’

Tim Kee took over presidency of the TTFA in 2012 after Jack Warner was forced to resign amidst a US investigation into corruption within FIFA that implicated him.

Tim Kee’s presidency saw a resurgence of the Soca Warriors but also an increasingly troubling financial situation. Constant squabbles with his board over those financial issues led to his eventual ousting in 2015 by recently deposed president, David John-Williams.

Trinidad and Tobago Super League president, Keith Look Loy, as well as Strike Squad captain Clayton Morris have also expressed their condolences.   

‘Thoroughly disappointed’ is how Trinidad and Tobago Pro League chairman Brent Sancho described the news that no team from the Pro League will take part in CONCACAF competition for the second season running.

William Wallace is the new president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) after he unseated controversial former boss, David John-Williams in an election at the weekend. The question is, what next?

William Wallace, president of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), defeated incumbent David John-Williams to become new Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) boss, at the Home of Football in Couva, on Sunday.

It took two rounds of voting, but in the end, Wallace received 26 votes to John-William’s 20.  The first round of voting ended with no candidate able to get enough of the votes from the 46 delegates allowed to take part in the process.  The number needed to win the election was 24.  Wallace led with 20 votes, John-Williams had 16 and Richard Ferguson had 10.  Ferguson was as a result eliminated from the contest.  In the second round, it seems six of Ferguson’s supporters voted for Wallace and the remaining four selected John-Williams.

The election result marked the end of a stormy tenure for John-Williams, who was often accused by his detractors of leading an authoritarian administration that lacked transparency.  The venue for the elections, the Home of Football, had long been held up as the crowning achievement of the John-Williams association and one of the main reasons it should have been handed a second term.  The argument, it seems, did not resonate well enough with the voters.

In the vice-presidential contest, Clynt Taylor defeated Selby Browne 27-17 to claim the position of first vice-president.  Taylor is the Central FA general secretary while Browne, a member of John-Williams’ Team Impactors slate, is the interim president of the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT).

Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner has launched legal proceedings against the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) in relation to loans incurred during the period he served as advisor to the association.

According to reports, Warner is suing the football body with the hope of recovering a sum somewhere in the region of US$2.4m.  Based on filings, Warner claims the sum was accrued over the course of 15 years.

The loans are believed to be directly related to the TTFA’s expenses during a period that spanned the national team’s successful qualification to the 2006 World Cup.  Warner’s legal claim states that the TTFA has always acknowledged the debts but never repaid them.

 “These accounts were published after the date of both letters from president Raymond Tim Kee, who had on two separate occasions acknowledged the debt to the claimant…At no time did the claimant inform the defendant that they were no longer under an obligation to repay the debt.”

Warner is seeking repayment of the aforementioned US$2.4m plus interest.  The former FIFA official was recently at the centre of a lawsuit filed in New York court on behalf of regional football body CONCACAF.  On that occasion, the judge ruled that the former official pay a US$79 million penalty stemming from the FIFA bribery scandal.

Naparima College head coach Angus Eve is not a happy man and intends to take his grouches all the way to the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs in the hope that he can still get approximately 24 Trinidad and Tobago footballers into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers. 

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has paid its national players four of six outstanding amounts for which there was the promise of strike action. 

A no-confidence motion table against Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams will be brought to the floor on Sunday, following the conclusion of Saturday’s AGM without the matter being addressed.

The TTFA, which took place at the UWI Cave Hill campus, was billed as a referendum for John-Williams, who has drawn the ire of several board members recently.  However, on Saturday, the meeting concluded with roughly two-thirds of the agenda items still untouched.

The motion against John-Williams proposed by TT Super League president and member of the board of directors, Keith Look Loy was one of the topics pushed forward and will need a majority of three-quarters of the valid votes for it to pass.

Although John-Williams is widely expected to have enough votes to survive the challenge, several members have expressed dissatisfaction with his stewardship of the organization. 

Among the issue raised are the poor performances and preparation of the national teams and deterioration of the country’s league football.  Some have also pointed to a lack of transparency surrounding the ‘Home of Football’ project in Couva.

 In the letter sighting his reasons for wanting to dismiss John-Williams, Look-Loy spoke of “Mismanagement of TTFA’s finances, witness the debacle of the 2016 audit, the ongoing inability to pay staff and players and to maintain programmes; Frivolous accumulation of lawsuits and the various expenses associated with same, for example Carolina Morace, Sheldon Phillips, Stephen Hart, etc due to poor management and illegal actions.”

 

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