Thu, Sep

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

After a painstaking seven months of battling FIFA, the United T&T Football Association's (TTFA) wheels have finally fallen off.

Indeed, it seemed much longer than that as the saga just went on and on like those soap operas where you just felt you knew the outcome, yet still kept on watching with the faint hope there was a twist in the tail and the show would end up with the good guys eventually coming out on top. Unfortunately, in this soap opera, the good guys did not emerge as victors.

One by one, they started to retreat. First, it was the president of Women's League Football (WOLF) Susan Joseph-Warrick who threw in the towel last month. But when the mighty “pitbull” Keith Look Loy retreated into the stands, you knew the fight was over. If you know Look Loy, he does not back down from a good fight so when he quits on your team, your defence is left open and vulnerable.

At that point, two were down with four to go, and somewhere in between, Tony Harford decided he was not going to run for Northern Football Association (NFA) president and Joseph Sam Phillip was quiet as a mouse who seemed quite content hoping someone would leave some cheese exposed.

On the other hand, Clynt Taylor started to be more proactive in the last couple of months but all-in-all, the barrage of criticism was firmly aimed at the TTFA's president - William Wallace - who stood up manfully for what he believed in.

But let us try to understand exactly how we have found ourselves here by going down memory lane to the period of say 2017-2019 when members of T&T's football-loving fraternity decided enough was enough with the maladministration of our football. The debt was completely out of control with no firm plan to alleviate this financial burden; our men and women national teams were being withdrawn from international competitions due to no funding from the body responsible for their welfare; results on the field were an embarrassment; staff were not being paid for months; vociferous demands were made without success for accountability and transparency within the TTFA especially for multi-million dollar projects like the 'Home of Football' (Couva) which is now shrouded in deep controversy.

It also appeared that coaches and technical directors were being fired for non-football reasons and sponsors started to turn their backs on football. Perhaps the deepest of them all - spectators began to stay away from games as the TTFA, during that period, held its worst image in the court of public opinion. All -in-all, it appeared that a category five hurricane, which you my readers can give a name to it, had crippled our football.

So up strode the United TTFA led byWallace, the then president of the Secondary Schools Football League, who, I must admit had a good track record as he was a past president of the Secondary Schools Cricket League and was an executive member of the T&T Cricket Board during the most successful period in local cricket history from 2006 to 2009.

Wallace campaigned well and had a powerful team behind him in Taylor of the Central Football Association, Joseph-Warric,, president of WOLF, Phillip yformer chairman of the Pro League, Harford president of the NFA and Look Loy, president of the T&T Super League. The football fraternity in large numbers except for those who were blinded by the former regime for one reason or another felt this was the opportunity to finally get our administration right and elevate people with honesty, integrity, character, morality, decency, probity, and much more.

It was felt that gone were the days when someone can buy an election with promises of funding for clubs, leagues and associations; promises of senior and high-paying positions; promises of trips and managerial appointments which we have witnessed over several years in our major sports.

On November 24, 2019, when the former administration was told thank you and goodbye by a 26-20 vote, it seemed a new chapter was on the horizon for the TTFA. People were just praying for good governance with no promises of anything other than a refined and transparent approach to our football. The United TTFA was democratically trusted with the responsibility to lead our football over the next four years.

But little did they realise then that they were not the preferred one by FIFA in the race. If you're not in FIFA's good books, as they say, “crapaud smoke your pipe”. A well-placed source in the football fraternity revealed to me last week that FIFA was trying to install a normalisation committee since December 2019 mere days after the United TTFA came into office. This is indeed startling if true but totally unsurprising.

Eventually, FIFA made their move in March 2020 by appointing its committee, and then the fight began. Wallace and his United TTFA fought for justice for football in our country and although deep down he must have felt he was always battling against the odds, he manfully never gave up until the end. So the dye is cast; we don't want to get suspended from international football and we have gone on bent knees to FIFA to say we are back.

All obstacles have been removed and all court matters existing between the TTFA and FIFA shall be immediately brought to a halt. Every single Trinbagonian knew that FIFA would come out on top. Let's face it, they have all the trumps and poor Wallace only had one high card to win a lift.

However, I absolutely detest when I hear people suggest that this fight had to do with emotions, aggression, arrogance, etc. is that for real? This fight, once again, had to do with respect for our democratic process and if we honestly put ourselves in Wallace's shoes and objectively consider the situation, we may have done the same. The man may have lost the war, but he deserves far more respect than he is getting from T&T.

Now, it's back to the normalisation committee. I'm not quite certain just how much football they know but I suppose we have no choice but to give them a chance. I just hope and pray they will do the right thing but only time will tell.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian