Former FIFA vice-president Austin Jack Warner, who has been involved in football in many areas locally and internationally and who is widely accredited with ensuring that Trinidad and Tobago was able to qualify for its first and only World Cup in 2006, says he agrees with newly-elected TTFA president William Wallace's decision to do an audit before undertaking any major activities.
“The reasons given for that, was to do an audit of the football house and to make sure that nothing is lost in the transition and that the closure is temporary, if those are the reasons I have no problem with that …the house of football must never be treated like the Couva’s Children hospital,” Warner said during an interview onI95FM on Tuesday night.
Asked if he felt closing the Home of Football in Couva less than a week after it was officially opened was a good idea, Warner said, “Well I do not think that Mr (William) Wallace is that silly to adopt that position. What I think he has to do and he has said that publicly is to do an audit at all levels, he has to know what the TTFA has, who they owe, he has to know what are their assets and what are their liabilities and therefore if the closure of the House of Football is temporary, then so be it.”
Wallace was elected as president at Sunday's TTFA AGM, replacing incumbent David John Williams by a vote of 26-20.
Asked if he was surprised by Wallace’s success, Warner said, “On the contrary, I am not surprised. I am surprised that Wallace did not get more votes, …because I think that what John-Williams misunderstood and he and his FIFA and CONCACAF colleagues and even the Prime Minister …what they misunderstood is that football is on the field of play, people want to see results, they want to see successes, sponsors want to come in and you could build a House of Football four times in one year, that does not equate to success on the field of play…,” he said.
“I feel that anyone but Williams who is passionate about the sport can do well and will do well, and Wallace is well gifted with the talents to do well. He is Secondary Schools Football president, he is acting principal of a school, he knows about young people and what they want but most importantly, he is one who has a vision of where he wants to carry the sport…and I think one lesson which has to be learnt by Wallace and for me the most important one, is that anyone can build a House of Football, but it takes a true leader to build a home and he has now to build a home."
Warner admitted that he had been upset that T&T's football had been allowed to degenerate to the point where they now sit at 104th on the FIFA rankings. He also said he was unhappy that Caribbean Football Union members allowed CONCACAF to change the World Cup qualifying format to the detriment of the smaller countries.
“I am biased against those who sit quietly by and allow CONCACAF to kill World Cup football qualification by having an elitist format …I am against those things and more," he said.
“Time will tell, I am not going to make any pre-judgment on Keith Look Loy and how he operates or Anthony Harford or anybody else. Time will tell, I know guys who were one way before an election, even in politics and once they get into position, they are different, positively or negatively, so let us wait and see and not make any pre-judgment. All stakeholders should be called and out of that get a manual a blueprint for the future."
Asked if he was ever approached by John-Williams, Warner said, “In four years, not once, I want to repeat that, in four years David John-Williams never asked me once for an idea on anything in football, because he had all the answers. That is why he is where he is today.”
However, Warner claimed Wallace visited him several times and as late as a month on the vision for football.
"We spoke at length and he was a good listener. I want to see now how he will put into practice what he has been told."
He added, “There is no quick fix in football, you cannot have a Nescafe mentality, you have to build from the ground up."
Warner also believes coach Dennis Lawrence should remain in the job, but said an overseas coach should be brought in to work with him. However, he said he was also concerned that CONCACAF was no longer developing regional coach and officials.
Responding to a recent article which suggested he (Warner) is advising Wallace's TTFA United team, Warner stated, "I am dismissive of that and I am saying if even that was the case, and it means, and by the way, that is not the case, and it means that is the beginning of the way to lift football in the country so be it. What’s wrong with that? I have been in football for 30 years at the international level and I still believe that anybody who wants to ask me something in football, I must answer them and advise them, if they come to me yes, if not so be it.”
SOURCE: T&T Guardian