Sat, Jun


No matter how it all ends, you have to give William Wallace his pips.

History may contradict me, but I cannot recall a president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association or any of its incarnations having to deal with the kind of challenges that Wallace has had to face since assuming office in November of last year.

First of all, there is the debt, all $50m-plus of it.

Going into the job, Wallace and his United TTFA slate of candidates knew they had a lot of people to pay and a lot of cash to find. But as they pored over the accounts, the enormity of the task that faced them grew with each new file uncovered.

Thirteen legal cases had to be dealt with. Then there was the Home of Football, a strong campaign pillar for Wallace’s predecessor, David-John Williams, but one with many holes - including an outstanding bill of $1.7 million.

Then there was the actual business of re-organising the football and blending together a variety of personalities like technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy and new national men’s coach, Terry Fenwick.

Those issues were onerous enough. But then comes the month of March with the Covid-19 virus and the FIFA tsunami.

To hear Wallace speak now, he and his team ought to have been on the lookout for the action the world governing body took on March 17 to appoint a normalisation committee. The official explanation for supplanting Wallace and company with businessman Robert Hadad and his fellow appointees was the Association’s accumulated debt—debt, as has been noted previously, Wallace’s TTFA was not responsible for accruing. But Wallace has always contended that the money owed was a red herring. Lately, he has been raising the issue of the bill for the Home of Football—for which he claims there is no proper paper trail—as the key to FIFA’s true motive.

Whatever the truth may be, the governing body has swamped the TTFA with its normalisation move.

So, faced with these massive waves of problems, it would have been easy for Wallace to look to the shore and swim for safety, leave FIFA to deal with its business and wait for two years to try again.

That may still be the most practical thing to do. But Wallace and his vice-presidents Sam Phillip, Clynt Taylor and Susan Joseph-Warrick have chosen instead to swim against the tide.

Their decision to drop their appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland but to go instead through the local High Court is a bold one, fraught with risk.

However, thinking about it, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Physically, William Wallace is a solid man, not one who seems easy to push over. And when he speaks, his tone is deep and measured. In all respects he can hold his own. And retired school teacher that he is, Wallace would have considered all aspects of his FIFA problem, listened to the voices around him and calculated the cost of going to court.

In particular, the TTFA president must consider that in doing so, FIFA sanctions against local football could now become a possibility; something many of the personalities who have spoken publicly on this matter have raised concerns over. The fallout if that should happen would be painful, not so much for the TTFA president or his vice-presidents personally, but for those they took office to serve.

I have no doubt that the TTFA’s duly elected top man has given this risk deep thought. But clearly the magnitude of what by popular opinion is a major injustice inflicted on the TTFA, has fuelled a determination to stay the course.

Only time will tell whether or not this is a misguided decision borne out of a noble sense of duty. It may very well be Big William’s last stand.

However, give the man credit for standing by his convictions. His courage alone deserves respect. 

SOURCE: T&T Guardian