Wed, May


The battle rages on between FIFA, the ex-TTFA (T&T Football Association) executive and periodically, FIFA’s imposed Normalisation Committee. Hopefully, the government has received the message and is staying out.

Strangely enough, I haven’t heard about the salaries owed to staff but up to Tuesday, they remained unpaid and addressing this is supposedly the first assignment of the normalisation committee.

Surely, by now, some arrangement should have been worked out with FIFA and that funding ought to have been enough to pay the salaries of the employees. Perhaps the normalisation committee should give it to the ex-TTFA officials to pay the employees; after all, it is cruel for them to remain unpaid.

But one thing remains abundantly clear of the 33 FIFA members placed under a normalisation committee since 2004: only one was not fully guilty of all the infractions cited by FIFA that would trigger the enaction of a normalisation committee. Can you take a guess which one? These so-called normalisation committees are often perceived as FIFA’s most lethal weapon designed to either remove an association’s executive or work alongside its members when they wish.

But in most cases, the former is chosen simply because those running the member association are not allies of FIFA’s hierarchy. The former TTFA executive was working on a long-term plan to reduce its debt and implement sustainable financial management policies and procedures. After all, they were in office for only three months which begs so many questions on what exactly influenced the imposition of this normalisation committee.

Cast your mind back or undertake some personal research to find out who was openly one of FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s earliest and eventual strongest allies in the Caribbean region? Who was the first Caribbean Football Union (CFU) member association president to support Infantino’s presidential campaign in 2016?

Then let us not forget Infantino’s visit to T&T just six days before the TTFA’s election in November 2019 to support his obvious preferred candidate who lost the election and all hell then, unfortunately, broke loose.

How dare these obnoxious, democratically elected voters not vote for Infantino’s main man? After all, the debt was growing, football was going backward, our men’s team could only beat Anguilla and our women looked disjointed and lacked any team spirit. But most importantly, FIFA was notified through various means about the brewing disaster within T&T’s football and was repeatedly requested to intervene from 2017 - 2019 and decided to do nothing. Why?

Presently in Kenya, the country’s highest sports arbitration body, the Sports Disputes Tribunal has formally requested FIFA to step in and appoint a normalisation committee for the purpose of holding the elections of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF). This request was made on February 17, 2020 and nothing has happened with Kenya’s football elections.

I could go back to 2017 and rehash the state of Kenya’s football and the ongoing problems but that is their business. However, all I will say is just guess who the president of FKF is a strong ally of and you will understand why no normalisation committee has moved into their football.

Do I still need to point out why a normalisation committee was put in place here in T&T’s football? It certainly had very little to do with the state and finances of our football which it should have done over two and a half years ago. But like a spoiled child, a grown man in FIFA did not get the toy he wanted for Christmas and uses the weapon of a normalisation committee to scar our football. Yet still, we have people in this country openly approving this dirty underhand take over of our democratically elected officials.

I must say, I was extremely disappointed to hear the men’s national coach’s comments on this impasse but I do understand he has a job to protect. The gentleman’s indisputable passion for the game of football is second to none. I know many are suffering from this dispute with football fans upset but sometimes it is better to not comment. Your job, when the time arises, is to coach and get results for our national team and I want to hear what your plans are for taking T&T’s football forward. As a national coach, it is best to stay out of politics.

Then there are those from outside like the former chairman of FIFA’s 2014 normalisation committee appointed to Guyana. Quite frankly, I don’t wish to hear from him unless he is going to first tell us just how different were the circumstances in which that normalisation committee was appointed. For him to say, “I sympathise with Wallace and his team, I know how they feel…” shows that he lacks any understanding of this issue. Surprisingly enough, the former Chairman made mention that, “... in 2015 there were talks to appoint a normalisation committee (to T&T) so it really does not make a difference if it is appointed now.” Oh no Sir, it does make a difference.

Remember, in 2015 a new kid came on the block and supported a certain person running for FIFA president so naturally, the idea of a normalisation committee was then dead and buried until that new kid lost the election in 2019. Former chairman of Guyana’s normalisation committee, minding your own business can be challenging indeed.

Then there is the president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), who says the body is not dead but his association is like a ghost so it may as well be dead. You see, there is no longer unity in Caribbean football. It is each for thyself and those who survive, fine, but those sinking, let them sink because you can get into serious difficulty with no assistance from FIFA.

No one has the fortitude quite like Jack Warner did to say to Infantino and company, give this newly elected executive a chance; assign someone from FIFA to work with them and let them find their way out of this mess they inherited. But instead, FIFA comes with this colonialist-style of imposition with a normalisation committee to essentially rob a new executive of a chance to sort out its own affairs and there are people here in support of this.

I will continue to tell William Wallace to listen to Robert Nestor Marley, "Get up stand up, stand up for your rights".

SOURCE: T&T Guardian