Thu, Mar


William Wallace, what have you done? In local jargon, “like you kill priest or what?”

Poor Wally must have thought that he was just fighting the Incredible Hulk only to realise in the past week or so that he has come up against Superman, Iron Man and Batwoman, especially, flexing her muscles and warning him not to play games.

Wow! you may say. Just when you thought you’d seen it all.

Here we are again, the ex-executive of the TTFA (T&T Football Association) and this normalisation committee. The movie continues with more characters added into the script. Let me once again state I have no issue with the concept of FIFA’s normalisation committee entering any member association.

What I have a problem with is how it was done to the TTFA and the timing of the action by the star of the movie - FIFA. I will not state the obvious why FIFA brought this normalization committee onboard after their president was here to open the ‘Home of Football’ (Couva).

It is interesting to note that some former national footballers such as Dwight Yorke and Carlos Edwards are in support of the normalisation committee. I am not surprised at this stance as when you speak with so many of our athletes in various sporting disciplines, they complain bitterly about administrators and, in their view, their seeming quest for power and failure to adequately look after their welfare. This bears no difference in football.

I am sure we remember the fight our Soca Warriors had to endure after they returned from Germany back in 2006. I expect the ‘new’ ex-executive of the TTFA without having been given a decent chance to prove themselves would be lumped in that category.

I also read a letter to the Guardian Sports Editor last Sunday from Earl 'Ballhog" Jean who signed the piece as “Football coach” pleading with Wallace and company that “...good sense ought to prevail”. Only on checking his credentials, I realised he is the football coach of W Connection of which the former president of TTFA has a significant interest. The thing is when football was on the downward slide with money being thrown away and the debt increasing exponentially from $15 Million to $50 Million, where were these voices? Suddenly they have sprung to life.

Mr Wallace and his executive shut down the ‘Home of Football’ because it did not meet certain statutory requirements but in just one week and with a small army of private sector companies, the facility’s wellness centre is ready for use at no cost to the TTFA.

Now, I am overjoyed because the virus we are fighting here is a killer and anything anyone can do to save a fellow human being's life must be applauded. But one must ask the question: why couldn’t William Wallace get the job done and bring the building up to scratch and have it ready for use?

It’s been widely publicised by the ex-TTFA executive that the building was unfit for use. This is after the building was masqueraded behind a grand opening with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, T&T’s Prime Minister, Minister of Sports and other dignitaries in attendance. Everyone walked around with big smiles, handshakes, hugs and kisses and then have the audacity to close the building.

The strange thing is not a word from no one. How come none of the dignitaries questioned the closure of the building? More than that, to me this was not only a black mark against the TTFA but T&T as we took FIFA’s money, had an opening and it was then shut down with seemingly no questions asked.

It is alleged that Wallace had put through several calls to the Minister of Sports after the TTFA elections in November 2019 and she never returned any. Now, surely, even if she was uninterested in his football plans, she must have cared about the ‘Home of Football’.

Unfortunately, things are not making sense to me.

All it would have taken is a return call to get the relevant statutory agencies involved and the facility would have been up and running since January, so why didn’t they offer to fix it before? I also read where the Minister of Sports admitted FIFA had briefed the T&T government of its impending action, before dissolving the TTFA and imposing a normalisation committee.

What is even more startling, the Minister of Sports said, “I am yet to meet with the new head of the body, which FIFA has put in charge but I expect to do so in the next week or so”.

Yet a democratically elected board for over three months, she never once met with its head. The Minister ultimately distanced herself from the story and she also claimed that Wallace never reached out to her and only did so about two weeks before the normalization committee was appointed, and insisting she was neutral about the tussle between FIFA and TTFA.

Strangely enough, the Minister says all of a sudden the TTFA wants protection from FIFA and points out that two years ago, there was an issue with the women’s national senior team and they asked for the Ministry’s intervention. She was told that she should not be in the meeting as TTFA reports to FIFA. Were those Wallace’s words two years ago?

You see, just like you, I long to get off this roller coaster. All I want is what’s best for T&T football.

Thanks to CNC3, I recently relived one of my life’s most cherished moments - a trip to Bahrain to do commentary on our eventual victory to seal World Cup qualification.

It hurts to see what is happening to T&T football off the field. A democratically elected body after three months in office being hounded out by an organisation seeking its agenda and our people in T&T playing a mischievous political game to assist that body with their political aspirations.

Wallace, you will do well to remember King Austin sang “No one can deny, the price of progress is high”.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian