FIFA representative Véron Mosengo-Omba and Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe’s visit to the site of the controversial TTFA Home of Football project on Monday has been described as a “public relations exercise” by TTFA board member Keith Look Loy.
TTFA president David John-Williams welcomed Mosengo-Omba, FIFA director of member associations and development for Africa and Caribbean, Cudjoe and a number of other stakeholders to the Couva construction site.
However, TTFA board members, a number of whom have been calling for transparency and accountability regarding to the project, were not invited.
TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George sent an email to board members to notify them of Mosengo-Omba’s site visit on Monday at 9.37 am.
The email read: “Further to the subject, and on the President’s advice, please note that Mr. Veron Mosengo-Omba (FIFA Director of Member Associations and Development for Africa & the Caribbean) has a layover in Trinidad today (Mon Aug 20, 2018) based on his related travel itinerary.
“As such, the President (copied) has requested that the Board be informed that Mr. Mosengo-Omba will be using some time of his layover to visit the ‘Home of Football’ project in Balmain, Couva.” Look Loy said the notice was not an invitation.
“In fact, no board members could respond to it (on time). They couldn’t even storm,” Look Loy said.
He said if Cudjoe could receive an invitation and plan her visit in advance, there would have been sufficient time to notify the board.
“And I interpret that as yet another evidence that he (John-Williams) does not want what he would consider prying eyes and critics to be around the FIFA delegate.”
Wayne Cunningham, former Eastern Football Association president and current TTFA media officer, on Monday morning, invited select members of the media to attend the site visit, instead of issuing a typical electronic invitation via email.
Look Loy was also asked to address a subsequent newspaper article, which indicated Cudjoe’s desire to exclude herself from the Home of Football controversy. Cudjoe was quoted as saying in the article, “Our business as Government was simply to provide the land...” Look Loy said Cudjoe’s response was appropriate.
“I have no problem with the minister being there and I have no problem with the minister saying she cannot be embroiled in any internal TTFA controversy, I endorse that.
“These projects usually, as in the case of this one, have a grant of land from the state and, therefore, the government has an interest in seeing that their contribution to the project is well used, so the minister being there, I have absolutely no problem with it. That is highly acceptable to me... I understand that as a former FIFA official.”
He said calling on Government to intervene in internal matters of football can have serious consequences for the sport in any country.
“The minister, the ministry and the Government should not do that, because of course FIFA will wave the big stick as they are doing right now in Africa... in Nigeria, in Ghana, in Uruguay.”
Conversely Look Loy said he supports the Government’s demand for accountability for state funds provided to the TTFA.
“But outside of that,” he added, “if we’re demanding transparency and accountability from David John-Williams and his crew in the financial affairs of the TTFA, then the onus and the responsibility is on the members to ensure that, not the Government, not the Government at all.”
Look Loy said at present, after months of asking for financial details at board meetings, via emails, through threats of police and legal intervention, John-Williams is yet to satisfy the demands of the board.
Look Loy, who has requested details of the finances of the project since December 26, last year, said: “Nobody knows what money is being spent, what it’s being spent on. We’ve called for documents but we can’t get any. I have received absolutely nothing.”
He made another call for John-Williams “yet again, to resign due to his continuing lack of transparency and accountability, and his international embarrassment of TTFA and Trinidad and Tobago.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday