Mon, Jan

Fresh farce as TTFA appears to have two general secretaries, DJW mum on fate of Latapy-George and Lawrence

In chaotic Venezuela, beset by economic turmoil and protests, there are two presidents. Not to be outdone, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)—also cash-strapped and plagued by governance issues and a lack of transparency—now appears to have two general secretaries.

Although Justin Latapy-George has operated as general secretary since 1 December 2016 and literally occupies the office at the TTFA’s headquarters in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Camara David—widely tipped as John-Williams’ favoured man for the job—has now attended at least two official events meant for the local football body’s general secretary.

And the stakes appear to have been raised further as David is now listed on the FIFA website as the TTFA’s general secretary.

The TTFA general secretary is the chief executive officer of the football body’s general secretariat, which is responsible for the daily operations of the member association and implementing the board of directors’ vision.

Latapy-George confirmed that he is the TTFA’s general secretary at present.

“As far as I am aware, at this very point I remain in the position of general secretary,” Latapy-George told Wired868 on 4 February.

John-Williams did not respond to Wired868’s questions regarding why David has now appeared as general secretary—or in a role intended for the general secretary—on at least three occasions: the FIFA Forward Programme in December 2018, the FIFA/CIES Football Executive Programme at UWI, St Augustine Campus in January 2019, and now the FIFA website.

David, who served for one year as the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) general secretary, declined comment.

In truth, Latapy-George’s relationship with John-Williams appeared to have been damaged on 22 September 2018 when the general secretary admitted that the president ordered him to withhold information from the board, on the resignation of former vice-president Joanne Salazar.

The deception was exacerbated when John-Williams declared Shawn Cooper as Women’s National Senior Team head coach after an email vote which counted more board members than existed at the time—and the inherent suggestion that the football president tallied Salazar’s vote, two weeks after she resigned effective immediately.

John-Williams, after he was outed, told Latapy-George to start looking for a job. However, the president subsequently asked his general secretary to hold on to the post before his contract expired on 31 November 2018; and, a month later, the general membership moved a motion expressing satisfaction in Latapy-George’s performance. John-Williams was urged by the membership to re-hire Latapy-George until the next TTFA elections in November 2019.

“Just before my contract ended, I was asked to hold on [by John-Williams],” Latapy-George told Wired868. “There was no time frame given. We did meet on 2 January and I am waiting for related feedback on that meeting, which I would rather not comment on.

“But even then, no specific date was given to me about any decision regarding my post. There is nothing else I can say; because only the president would be able to answer anything further.”

John-Williams, as usual, did not respond to requests for information. However, Keith Look Loy confirmed that the board has not met since November 2018 and, as such, no decision was made on the position of general secretary.

The TTFA constitution stipulates that only the board of directors can hire or fire the general secretary—or a football coach or any other technical staff member—with the president’s role confined to making recommendations to fill the former post.

Look Loy, the TTSL president and FC Santa Rosa club owner, has already seen the TTFA’s updated profile on the FIFA website—which, incidentally, still carries the names of John-Williams’ two former vice-presidents, Allan Warner and Salazar, who both resigned within the first and third years of his term.

“That information on the TTFA website can only have been put there from high echelons of the TTFA,” said Look Loy, “because FIFA could not come up with that themselves and they did not get it from Justin. That is deceit of the highest order, a lack of democracy and transparency and an abandonment of the constitution.

“Camara David is a man who lectures on [issues like] good governance at UWI; and, if he is aware, this is the second example of a lack of ethics by him after the Barbados trip [for the FIFA Forward Programme workshop in December 2018].

“David was buzzing around the Uefa meetings [with the Pro League and TTSL clubs] as though he is the general secretary already and I wonder if he is being paid… And then people with their own agendas want to remove me for fighting for transparency; and here it is yet again, another example.

“Transparency is not only about money; it is about governance.”

David is a part-time lecturer on Introduction to Sports Management at UWI, St Augustine but, at present, does not have an official post at the TTFA.

“This situation supports the theory that Camara David went to Barbados as the general secretary of the TTFA [in December 2018],” said Look Loy. “I want to know if Camara David has already been given a contract; because this is not approved by the board.

“[…] Is he already contracted?”

Article 35.1 of the TTFA constitution stipulates that: “the President shall convene the meetings of the Board of Directors at least once every two months…” At present, John-Williams is in violation of the constitution on that point.

Latapy-George apart, Men’s National Head coach Dennis Lawrence’s contract expired on 31 January 2019 and he is also anxious to be reappointed—pending board approval—while the Men’s National Under-17 and Women’s National Under-15 Teams are among a host of inactive outfits at present.

The Under-17 are due to start their Peru 2019 World Youth Cup campaign in just over a month, yet they do not even have a coaching staff.

Look Loy said he will try to invoke Article 35.1, which also allows for board members to call a meeting when the president is negligent of his duties:

“… If 50% of the members of the Board of Directors request a meeting in writing, the President shall convene it within ten days. If the President does not convene the requested meeting by the aforementioned period of time, the other members of the Board of Directors may convene it themselves.”

Look Loy promised to contact his colleagues today to discuss addressing the aforementioned issues.

“The position of general secretary, the national coach, the National Under-17 Team that play in just over a month,” said Look Loy. “There are other burning issues but those are at the top of the agenda…”

Wired868 asked John-Williams: “Can you explain why FIFA now lists Camara David as TTFA general secretary? Has David been hired? Has a position been taken on current general secretary Justin Latapy-George and communicated to the board?

“And why has the board not been asked to meet on position of head coach Dennis Lawrence? Can you update us on the status of the National Under-17 Team? When will the next board meeting be held?”

John-Williams did not respond up to the time of publication.

At present, the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Team is ranked 92nd in the world by FIFA as well as 10th in Concacaf and third in the Caribbean—behind Jamaica and Curaçao.

The Soca Warriors were ranked 49th by FIFA when John-Williams was elected as TTFA president in November 2015, while they were third in Concacaf and first in the Caribbean at the time.

The Warriors were 80th in FIFA, seventh in Concacaf and second in the Caribbean—behind Jamaica—when Lawrence took over from Tom Saintfiet as head coach in February 2017.

Editor’s Note: Camara David’s name was removed from the TTFA association’s webpage on the FIFA website on 5 February 2018; but Justin Latapy-George’s name was not inserted either. Instead, the TTFA chose to leave off the general secretary title altogether.

The names of vice-presidents Allan Warner and Joanne Salazar remained on the FIFA site, although they retired in 2016 and 2018 respectively. TTFA president David John-Williams, in an interview with the Trinidad Newsday, claimed not to know how David was listed as general secretary on the FIFA site.