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The recent FIFA take-over of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is a stew of the history of Trinidad and Tobago's mismanagement of finances, FIFA politics and a lack of solidarity among CFU (Caribbean Football Union) members. However, with objective scrutiny, one can clearly discern that the dominant ingredient in this cook-up is blatant FIFA politics, and for this reason, I believe that Trinidad and Tobago could present a very strong and winnable case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) when the matter is called.

For those who say Trinidad and Tobago's challenge to the 'all-powerful' FIFA is futile, they adopt a defeatist attitude, which sends the wrong message to FIFA and eventually signals an abdication of the ability to control our destiny in the Caribbean; in fact, we will see the converse, whereby our destiny will be at the whim of the world body. The situation has far-reaching implications and must be viewed from a holistic Caribbean football perspective.

FIFA disbanded the four-month-old, democratically elected executive led by President William Wallace and replaced it with a Normalization Committee on March 27, after giving notice on March 17, charging that the new executive had no proper procedures in place for its claimed TT$50 million debt relief plan, a debt inherited by the Wallace group from the previous administration, led by the former president, David John-Williams.

FIFA, also was not in favour of an attempt by the William Wallace group to partner the UK-based firm, Lavender Consultants Ltd., in the development of a sports complex in Arima as part of the Executive's debt relief plan (The TTFA, instead of pursuing the Arima project, should have focused on getting the Home of Football up and running because it was a huge FIFA investment).

Also, the elected executive's failure to resolve what FIFA and CONCACAF viewed as a conflict of interest because of dual roles among members of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) and its own Referees Committee was another issue of contention.

This referees' situation existed several years before the William Wallace Executive took office; it was addressed by CONCACAF officials under the David John-Williams administration and was given a deadline of December 31st, 2019, to be resolved by a revision to the TTFA constitution to comply with FIFA statutes.

A juxtaposition of the aforementioned FIFA charges against the William Wallace Executive, democratically elected on November 24, 2019, and the calamity created by the previous David John-Williams Executive reveals the making of a solid case for the Wallace Executive group.

Here goes: The David John-Williams Executive created, among its maladies, four years of alleged financial mismanagement of FIFA Funds, particularly in the development of the unfinished and inoperable Home of Football. The Home of Football project, supposedly the signature accomplishment of the John-Williams administration, led to a court order for transparency that revealed the shortcomings of the John-Williams Executive, which were documented and reported to FIFA but from all indication appeared to have been ignored.

According to former TTFA general secretary, Ramesh Ramdhan speaking to the media in a publication on March 21, “These shortcomings were repeatedly ignored by Mosengo-Omba (a FIFA official charged with overseeing the project) whose stock response was that this was an 'internal TTFA matter that FIFA would not intervene'….” Further, it was reported in the print media that the Home of Football did not meet the local Fire Department's requirements and deemed not for use.

Additionally, the illegal dismissal of several contracted coaches, including former technical director, Kendall Walkes, and others still owed monies resulted in court-ordered frozen accounts to secure millions of dollars in payments to Walkes (The situation compounded the problems for the new Wallace administration, as it set about executing the daily operations of the TTFA). Lastly, FIFA's appointment of the financial manager, Tyril Patrick - the only hold-over by William Wallace team from the previous administration - to head the Normalization Committee is further evidence of FIFA politics at play. Patrick subsequently refused the post.

Eventually, the David John-Williams four-year tenure resulted in poor performances by all Trinidad and Tobago national teams; there was a clear deterioration of the standard of football in the country; and subsequently, football in Trinidad and Tobago was left with an inoperable Home of Football and an AGM approved TT$32.4 million debt on Nov. 24th that later was alleged to be TT$50 million by William Wallace's administration.

FIFA charged the democratically-elected William Wallace Executive, based on the aforementioned, with violating of articles 8.2 of its Statutes, which states in part, “Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office…..”

However, an objective view of the situation indicates that the David John-Williams administration is the group guilty of creating “exceptional circumstances…” I believe CAS will rule in favour of the William Wallace group. The court result notwithstanding, what is very important here is the democratically-elected William Wallace Executive's refusal to capitulate to FIFA.

FIFA should have acted in good faith and should have instructed the Normalisation Committee to work with the democratically elected William Wallace administration to revive football in Trinidad and Tobago.

Patrick Horne is a New York-based sports administrator, football coach and author of Black Pioneers of the North American Soccer League (1968-84).


SOURCE: T&T Guardian