After the United States Embassy here in T&T put all the blame from T&T national girls Under-15 team not securing visas to participate in a CONCACAF tournament in the United States earlier this week, through a news release on Friday by the Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires, John Mc Intyre, the T&T Football Association (TTFA) headed by David John-Williams, the president issued the following release.
It reads: ‘The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has taken note of the recent statement issued by the Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy, Mr John McIntyre.
With utmost respect for the sovereign authority of the Chargé d’Affaires, and based on the already agreed plan of action decided by the TTFA given the matter surrounding visa applications for our Girls Under-15 Team, the TTFA will be seeking an audience with the U.S. Embassy through the Chargé d’Affaires.
Notably, it remains our desire to maintain the cordial relationship we have developed with the U.S. Embassy over these many years. A relationship that augurs well for the TTFA and all stakeholders of football. Therefore, following an opportunity to meet and treat with this matter directly, with a designated official(s) of the U.S. Embassy, the TTFA will be better positioned to treat with visa-related affairs.
Additionally, we wish to state that a recent report in a local daily news publication, ascribed to the President of the TTFA, was taken out of context, and more importantly, was not sanctioned by the TTFA.”
Speaking earlier this week after the local girls’ team was not granted US Visas to attend the tournament at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, USA, T&TFA president John-Williams suggested that the governing body for the region, Concacaf, looked into the idea of hosting the event and others in the feature in other countries, because most Caribbean nations are faced with problems when trying to acquire US Visas.
However, in a strongly worded reply from them, the T&TFF was cited as being the ones to drop the ball on the matter.
According Mr. McIntyre, who wrote: “I, along with my embassy colleagues, rarely comment on visa matters due to the respect we have for the privacy of the applicants and our rules and regulations. However, I must respond to the Red Card commentary of Mr David John Williams. Why we have chosen to respond is because your failure to plan is effecting promising football (soccer) players from Trinidad and Tobago to whom we would welcome playing in the USA. In addition, your comments can adversely affect our ongoing efforts to grow our sports diplomacy programs here in T and T.
I will be blunt. Mr Williams and the TTFA just flat out dropped the ball on the visa process. Our Embassy for MONTHS noted that individuals and groups should plan well in advance for any trips to the USA. The Trinidad and Tobago Girls Under-15 representatives approached the Embassy about visas after we were closed on Tuesday, July 31 to get their visas by Friday, August 3 with the Emancipation holiday in between. No names or details about the visa applicants were provided. Even after games were rescheduled, there was too little time allowed, just two working days for an established 7-10 day process, not to mention that this is peak visa season when most people have to wait six weeks just for a visa interview. Many groups have successfully travelled to the USA by being prepared and planning in advance. In fact, if you look at our Facebook page from a few weeks ago you will see a youth team playing in the USA at a major football (soccer) tourney.
I want to take this opportunity to again ask the Trinidad and Tobago public, as we have since April, so please plan in advance for travel to the USA. Know, as you see in the news almost daily, we are committed to our relationship with the citizens of T and T at all levels, including sports diplomacy. Don’t let folks with cocoa in the sun mislead you.”