THE TT Football Association (TTFA) held its first board meeting since June, on Thursday, during which Shawn Cooper was confirmed as head coach of the senior national women's team, something that, according to the TTFA constitution, should have taken place following the resignation of former coach, Jamaal Shabazz.
Despite the constitution making it clear that the TTFA president is to call a board meeting at least once every two months, it took six board members to come together to compel president David John-Williams to call a meeting to address a series of mounting issues affecting the administration and by extension, the problems surrounding domestic and national team football, one of which was the unconstitutional appointment of Cooper as head coach without a legitimate technical committee or vote.
All members of the TTFA board of directors were present at the board meeting. Three, however, were barred from voting by John-Williams, apparently because of their standing as provisional members, although nothing in the 2015 TTFA constitution alludes to this.
The board members include: president John-Williams, Ewing Davis (vice-president), Sharon Warrick (Women’s League Football - WOLF), Keith Look Loy (TT Super League), Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League), Joseph Taylor (TT Football Referees Association), and from the zones: Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA).
Eastern Counties FA is currently suspended for its failure to meet compliance requirements.
Discussions at the meeting focused on: Wayne Cunningham and his dual role as a representative of the EFA and as a media officer for the TTFA; VP Joanne Salazar’s resignation; matters pertaining to the TT Football Referees Association; matters pertaining to the senior national women’s team; and matters pertaining to the inoperative national men’s U-17 and U-20 teams.
On the issue of Salazar’s resignation, John-Williams claims he spoke to the former vice president, a claim supported by Moore.
“I held to the view that he denied info to the board and lacked transparency,” Look Loy said.
A thread of emails obtained by Newsday recently showed correspondence between John-Williams and TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George, in which the president clearly gave instructions to the latter to hide the resignation of Salazar from the board.
Salazar effectively resigned on September 11, ten days before the board was informed.
“(At the board meeting) Partap made the point she (Salazar) resigned with immediate effect and advised the board ten days later with immediate effect. There was nothing to discuss. I asked if he didn’t accept her resignation… if she remained a VP. In the end, as chair, he closed the discussion with consensus acceptance of the resignation,” Look Loy said.
In between that ten-day period with the TTFA in the dark over Salazar’s resignation, another unconstitutional farce took place in which a vote led by Richard Quan Chan as chairman of the technical committee, was taken via email to appoint Cooper as head coach of the senior women’s national team.
However, as confirmed in the board meeting, there is in fact no such working committee at present.
In addition to there being no technical committee, John-Williams advised the board that Cooper has been appointed by means of a majority vote.
He counted nine votes, although by his own estimation, only eight members were eligible to vote. In a media release, constructed by John-Williams, he indicated that five board members voted in favour of appointing Cooper as coach, while three voted against and there was one abstention.
There was also the matter of the vote being taken by email, which is expressly forbidden in the constitution.
As the women’s team is due to compete at the Concacaf Women’s Championship, starting next Thursday, each member of the board voted to appoint Cooper as coach. “We agreed to begin an immediate search for a coach to lead the women’s team in the next cycle,” he said.
“All of this,” Look Loy said, “should have been dealt with immediately after Shabazz resigned.
“As I have been saying all along, last night, John-Williams’ deceit and delays in coming to the board, forced the board to go with the staff we already have in place. With the first match only six days off, we not chance. In any event, TTFA has no money to bring in anyone new, including Waldrum.”
According to Look Loy, the two women in the board, Warrick and Baptiste, both expressed “great dissatisfaction” with TTFA’s handling of the women's team and women's football in general. “I endorse that,” he said.
In regard to the discussions surrounding the inactive U-17 and U-20 teams, Look Loy said a plan and budget was mandated to cover a period of six months and two months, respectively, for the two programmes.
Look Loy was asked by Newsday if he considered including discussions for the controversial “home of football” project for the agenda, to which he responded: “No, I will rely on the high court to force John-Williams to provide access to all the financial records of the TTFA and the home of football project.”
He said a court date of October 26 has been confirmed.
However, he added that, “his lawyer has repeatedly offered a date when I could come and then backed out.”
“Last thing they offered was October 4. I said okay for 10 am. I wanted guarantee I would have access to all documents I requested. They have not responded. They are playing a game, so I will rely on the judge.”
“But the issue is, why should a board member have to resort to the judicial system to access documents that belong to the TTFA?"
Look Loy said there were several albeit small positives to take from Thursday’s meeting.
“We see the decision taken regarding the three national teams and the decision to form a technical committee as a victory for the constitutional authority of the board over those who would undermine it.”