Wed, May

Normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad, centre, with (left-right) TTFA media officer Shaun Fuentes, men's coach Terry Fenwick, manager Adrian Romain and assistant coach Derek King, at the Piarco International Airport on Thursday before the team left for the Dominican Republic. Photo by Joel Bailey-

CHAIRMAN of the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee Robert Hadad said he will not allow national men’s senior football coach Terry Fenwick to pick and choose who he wants at media conferences.

On Wednesday, at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, there was an altercation between Fenwick and press officer Shaun Fuentes.

The quarrel allegedly began because Fenwick was upset that Wired868 editor Lasana Liburd was present at the media briefing.

Liburd claimed he was not invited to a media conference on Thursday at the VIP Lounge, Piarco Airport, to mark the departure of the national team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Guyana and Puerto Rico. T&T will play Guyana on Thursday in Dominican Republic, followed by Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico on March 28.

Asked if Liburd was not invited to the media conference on Thursday, Hadad told Newsday, “That is not true. The Airport Authority gave us the Diplomatic Lounge and we were not at liberty to invite any and everybody. It is a small space.”

The media houses present at Piarco were Newsday, TTT and CCNTV6.

Hadad also said, “It was not a formal media conference. We will have a formal media conference on the (team’s) return, and it won’t be in the airport. We will arrange a space and allow you all to ask questions.”

Hadad added, “The day before, he (Liburd) was invited to the pitch (to do interviews), so I don’t understand the sensitivity.”

Wired868 reported that Fenwick headbutted Fuentes in the altercation. Hadad said his report did not confirm that.

“Shaun Fuentes' report does not have a headbutt in it…nobody got hit…the man who (allegedly) get headbutt say he did not get headbutt.”

On Wednesday, the TT Football Association issued a media release saying the incident between Fenwick and Fuentes had been blown out of proportion. The release said the incident "has been addressed at a meeting involving the two individuals, team manager Adrian Romain and the normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad."

The TTFA said apologies were exchanged and Fenwick and Fuentes have agreed to put the incident behind them.

"Both Fenwick and Fuentes proceeded to conduct themselves in a professional manner and subsequently hosted the media briefing (on Wednesday) before the media present at the venue."

Hadad said he spoke to Fenwick on the issue.

“I told him straight up, I am not allowing anybody to leave out anybody. We are an open book. I have been an open book from day one. I have not run from anybody. I am willing to work with the media, and I expect the media to work with Trinidad’s football. I get it that for years the football in itself has been in a down place and everybody looking for news that is always bad news.

"There are a lot of good things happening now.”

Hadad reiterated, “I am not going to allow our national coach to dictate to anybody and I told him that. When we have media conferences, everybody will be invited.”

Liburd, in a WhatsApp message to Newsday, said, “I was a bit surprised to realise that the TT Football Association had a press conference yesterday (Thursday) and I was not invited. That surprise stems only from my relationship with the association and not the individuals involved, though.”

Liburd said he knew his stories over the last 25 years may have ruffled some feathers, but he was always invited to media conferences.

“You see, I’ve covered local football since the mid-1990s and there have been more than a few occasions where my stories might have displeased persons who run this national sport body. And yet, Jack Warner, the late Oliver Camps, the late Raymond Tim Kee, David John-Williams – not one of them tried to deny me access to the business of national football at press conferences.”

Watch Fenwick upbeat after Day 1 in Dominican Republic

Watch Day 1 in Santo Domingo