Tue, Apr


RECENTLY INDUCTED 2020 First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Famer Bertille St Clair is concerned about the ramifications if sidelined Trinidad and Tobago Football Association president Williams Wallace persists with a battle against FIFA, the governing body for world football.

Lawyers representing the Wallace-led TTFA executive launched an appeal before the International Court of the Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) on April 6, after the Fédération Internationale De Football Association (FIFA), replaced them and on March 17 imposed a Normalisation Committee led by local businessman Robert Hadad, to run Trinidad and Tobago’s football.

“I just hope they don’t make us get banned by FIFA,” said St Clair, the most successful local coach in T&T history. “A ban will be devastating for the young footballers and that is what football is about, not administrators.”

St Clair was the first football coach from the English-speaking Caribbean to qualify a team for a FIFA World Cup. In 1991, he led a team, which included Dwight Yorke, Jerren Nixon, Angus Eve, Clayton Ince, Shaka Hislop, Anthony Sherwood and Kerwin “Pappa” Emmanuel to participate at the World Youth Championship.

He was also the first coach to take a T&T senior team to a semi-final appearance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000. The Tobago native has also trained national football teams at every level from Under-13, Under-16, Under-17, Under-20 to the seniors, along with teams in ladies hockey and cricket.

The former school teacher is also counted among the most successful coaches at schoolboy level, claiming five National InterCol titles with Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive (1982, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’95’).

St Clair thinks Wallace and his executives should allow FIFA’s normalisation committee to do its work. A known disciplinarian, St Clair was never one to mince words.

“I don’t know why they are fighting FIFA,” said Sinclair. “You owe $50 million. If they want to come in and want to clean up the thing, let them, then go and win the election after,” he reasoned.

St Clair was among those present last year when FIFA president Gianni Infantino came to T&T last November for the official launch and unveiling of the US$2.5 million Home of Football, built by the world governing body. He believes that Wallace made a huge misstep in closing down the Home of Football. He did not see the wisdom in the TTFA criticising the entity that provided it with a permanent home.

“That is a fantastic facility (HoF),” St Clair noted. “If there are some things wrong with it, then fix it. You don’t close it down. That makes no sense.”

In a long and distinguished career, St Clair, 78, has travelled the world and interacted with players, coaches and officials at all levels. And he does not feel Wallace’s battle against FIFA is one that can be won. “FIFA is the boss. They control everything. I really hope we don’t get in problems with FIFA,” St Clair reiterated.

“I want to see a change, a big improvement in Trinidad football. We were ranked number 25 in the world once, and now we are a hundred and something. Something has to change, and it will not be easy,” he concluded.

SOURCE: T&T Express