William Wallace: “[…] We believe the imposition of the normalisation committee as punishment for our revelation of the previous administration’s financial impropriety, which was ignored by Fifa…”
Robert Hadad: “[…] Your letter is an example of the campaign of misinformation and disinformation that you and a number of your colleagues from the removed TTFA Executive Committee, have undertaken from the inception of not only the normalisation process, but as evidenced from the first day you were in office…”
The following is an ‘appeal’ for support by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace, which was emailed to Fifa’s 210 member associations; and the response from Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad:
27 August 2020,
Dear Fellow Presidents,
On 24 November 2019, in a free and fair elections supervised by Concacaf and Fifa, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) consisting of 46 delegates elected myself and my team to lead the TTFA by a vote of 26 to 20. Defeated candidates immediately spoke publicly of normalisation by Fifa.
It is the norm for Fifa and Concacaf to provide funding for its member associations in January of each year. No funding came to the TTFA and on enquiring, the persons at Fifa’s Finance Department could not provide any clear answers as to why, like all other MAs we the TTFA did not receive funding.
I was eventuality instructed to speak to Mr Véron Mosengo-Omba who indicated to me that Fifa would be sending a delegation to Trinidad and Tobago before we receive any funding.
We nonetheless continued to conduct the business of the TTFA and were able to accomplish many things under the challenging conditions we inherited, without the funding. We were able to start attracting international and local sponsors. Noteworthy is that among the international sponsors, we were able to sign an MOU with one of them which spoke to the paying off of the TTFA $50M debt.
Importantly also was the setting up of the Finance Committee and examination of the internal financial environment of TTFA. This exercise generated a comprehensive report, which identified the absence of any internal control and clear structures in the financial operations of the TTFA.
This unfortunate situation would have existed for four years under the previous administration. It was also unfortunate that Fifa’s annual audit over that period did not make this discovery and if it did, made no demands that the administration put these structures in place.
We also discovered financial impropriety committed by the previous administration, which we revealed. It was against this background that the Fifa/Concacaf mission arrived in Trinidad & Tobago on 26 February 2020.
Incidentally, part of the mandate of the mission was to examine the internal financial structures of the TTFA. We took the opportunity to present them with our findings and the response to the document was, and I quote: ‘This is 50% of our work completed’.
The other area of concern raised by the mission was our approach in dealing with the historic debt. We were able to present to the team a comprehensive MOU signed between ourselves and a business entity out of the UK that outlined a clear initiative to deal with the USD 7 million debt that we inherited.
On 17 March we learnt via the Fifa website that a normalisation committee was set up to run Trinidad and Tobago football.
The disturbing facts about all of this were:
1. TTFA never received a report from the Fifa/ Concacaf visit.
2. As a new executive we were never engaged by Fifa or Concacaf in any meaningful way to discuss the issues of the TTFA.
3. The two reasons stated in Fifa’s subsequent official communication for setting up the normalisation committee are:
• ‘the absence of internal financial systems in the TTFA’ (Curiously the report that was generated by the new executive and handed to the mission was sent back verbatim to support this reason).
• ‘the historic debt’
It must also be noted that it was the first time that any executive presented a plan to deal with the historic debt and yet that plan was never given a chance to materialise. We believe the imposition of the normalisation committee as punishment for our revelation of the previous administration’s financial impropriety, which was ignored by Fifa.
On 7 April 2020 we filed an appeal against Fifa’s decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. We subsequently withdrew the appeal when Fifa refused to pay its share of the Court fee, while, in our view, CAS itself demonstrated clear bias in favour of Fifa.
On 18 May we filed a complaint with the Trinidad and Tobago High Court seeking a permanent injunction against Fifa’s action and its normalisation committee. Fifa responded by filing a complaint challenging the jurisdiction of the local court.
On 13 August 2020 the local High Court decided in favour of TTFA, clearing the way for the Court to hear the substantive case regarding the normalisation committee.
Fifa has appealed this decision but on 26 August threatened suspension of TTFA unless the case in the local Court is withdrawn. The intention is clearly to place TTFA before the Congress on 18 September.
We do not understand how FIFA could remove the persons elected in November 2019, who they continually refer to as ‘former officers’, yet threaten to suspend the Association [if] these ‘former officers’ do not end their legal action.
We have written seven times to Fifa seeking mediation of this matter, without success. We have always been prepared to work with Fifa to resolve TTFA’s financial issues but Fifa must recognise the Association’s elected officers.
We view Fifa’s action as undemocratic, untimely and oppressive, given the fact that the newly elected administration elected had held office for less than four months. We insist, under the law of natural justice, on our right to be heard at the 18 September Congress.
We hereby appeal to all fair-minded Member Associations of Fifa to investigate Fifa’s decision in an effort to protect football democracy and fair play, since just like you we are members under the FIFA umbrella.
Port of Spain, 31 August 2020
Dear Mr Wallace,
I am in receipt of a copy of a letter you have sent to the international football family. Your letter is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.
As stated in writing on numerous occasions by Fifa, you Mr Wallace, are not recognised as the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) President. The TTFA normalisation committee which I chair has been appointed by Fifa and is the only legitimate body entrusted to manage/run the affairs of the TTFA as recognised by Fifa, Concacaf and Fifa’s 211 Member Associations.
Furthermore, you are not authorised to use the TTFA letterhead or any other marking for any communication or representation.
Similar to all your correspondence and media interviews, your letter is an example of the campaign of misinformation and disinformation that you and a number of your colleagues from the removed TTFA Executive Committee, have undertaken from the inception of not only the normalisation process, but as evidenced from the first day you were in office.
You have completely ignored the truth and your membership.
You have had every opportunity within the Fifa system to make a case and put forward your position, however you have voluntarily chosen not to do so and even went so far as withdrawing the matter from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
You know very well that it is a requirement of Fifa, Concacaf and TTFA Statutes that such disputes be managed through CAS, and you know very well the potential consequences for those who ignore important FIFA rules and regulations.
The tone and content of your letter is offensive, not only to the normalisation committee, but to the people of Trinidad and Tobago who are working extremely hard for the betterment of football in the country.
In recent weeks the players of our Senior Men’s National Team, our membership at large and other stakeholders have spoken out to you and your cohorts to request that you do the right thing and put Trinidad and Tobago football first. You have also ignored your own government who gave you the opportunity to speak.
Mr Wallace, the Fifa and Concacaf position on this matter is clear and unequivocal. You know very well the risks you are taking and, quite frankly, the time for your campaign of misinformation is over.
The choice is very clear: do the right thing prior to the deadline of September 16th established by Fifa or continue down your path and jeopardise the futures and opportunities for our national team players and coaches, and for football as a whole in our country.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association