Sat, Jun

Normel, normel

There must be some sort of illness, or maybe even a curse, which afflicts many persons in positions of authority to the extent that they are so convinced of their presumed superiority that they are incapable of appreciating the folly of their own actions, or as in the case of the Normalisation Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), their inactions.

In going against the grain of protracted silence in relation to continuous complaints about the substance and style of their FIFA-imposed governance, made many times worse by a chronic failure to communicate with several key stakeholders in the local game, the Robert Hadad-led four-member committee issued a swift response on Saturday to a letter of complaint to the world governing body, a response which told everything about their one-eyed view of the world.

For the purposes of full disclosure, let me state immediately that my family’s electrical and plumbing supplies business, of which I am a director, has had a continuous relationship with Hadco Limited (of which Robert Hadad is a co-CEO) since the establishment of Hadco’s electrical and lighting division almost 30 years ago. Also, I have known the latest addition to the Normalisation Committee, Nicholas Gomez (it was only via the reporting of his appointment that I learnt that his birth certificate first name is “Trevor”), since secondary school days when he was an outstanding middle-order batsman at Fatima College and went on to captain the national under-19 team at the 1984 West Indies youth championships before playing his lone senior national first-class game against the touring Englishmen in 1986 at the Queen’s Park Oval.

So back to the issue at hand.

Limitations of space don’t permit extensive detail on the letter of complaint from TTFA members to FIFA, nor are they really necessary for the purposes of discerning the obvious failings of the governance style of Hadad together with other committee members Nigel Romano, Judy Daniel and latest addition Gomez.

Whether it is Hadad personally or the collective quartet, they essentially stand accused of what can be interpreted as high-handedness as reflected in that previously mentioned failure to communicate. And in their swift response, the Normalisation Committee made clear why they are so despised by so many in local football.

In the second line of their response they state: “We understand the concerns of the TTFA Members and will be addressing those issues with the membership directly this week.”

If we ignore the eight months of legal wrangling with the eventually-deposed William Wallace administration, why has it taken five months from the actual implementation of the committee’s FIFA mandate in November of last year to acknowledge the necessity of speaking directly to the membership of the organisation they now govern?

But it is the third paragraph of the letter which confirms the aforementioned illness, or curse, if you prefer:

“It must be noted that many details outlined in the document (the complaint sent to FIFA) are inaccurate and based on assumptions. We will endeavour to improve on the communication channels between the TTFA and its membership so that the members are provided with accurate sources of information on these matters, with the aim of fostering a stronger relationship between all parties.”

This is so typical of what passes for accountability around here: hurling blame back on the complainant(s) for maybe getting things wrong in the specifics of their accusations, sidestepping the obvious issue of the communications vacuum which allows suspicions to fester, and then vow to do something (improve communication channels) which should have been done from the very outset.

And finally, to confirm that we remain in the colonial era, is the lament about washing dirty football socks in public:

“It is however unfortunate that this letter, which was sent internally, has found its way into the media space. Trust between the TTFA and its membership is paramount to develop this strong relationship and we believe that by working together earnestly, it can be achieved.”

So who has broken the bond of trust, the complainants who used the media to prompt a swift response when previously there was only silence, or the new governors who inferred by their continuous failure to communicate with key stakeholders that they were answerable only to FIFA?

Look, this is certainly not an attempt to cast clear villains and victims because the evidence of several decades of innumerable iterations of local football bacchanal makes clear that many of those who consider themselves “football people” are invariably the architects of this continually deplorable state of administrative affairs.

Still, in this specific instance, and as confirmed by their uncharacteristic knee-jerk response, this four-member team operates, like so many others at all leadership levels in this country, by decree.

What else can we expect but business as usual from a “Normalization Committee”?


Hadad and his crew are the only ones earning from football, while they suffer T&T players and coaches.
Wayne 'Barney' Sheppard (Wired868).

The only people making money in football in Trinidad and Tobago for the last year have been non-football people.

Robert Hadad is drawing upwards of TT$40,000 per month while Judy Daniel, Nigel Romano and Trevor Gomez are banking over TT$30,000 per month—based on the standard sums given to Fifa-appointed normalisation committee members elsewhere.

They are all gainfully employed in other fields and have been touted and paraded as successes there.

Yet Hadad says he won’t pay the local-based national players a stipend when they have no club football to draw a dollar from—although the normalisation committee got at least US$1.5m (TT$10.2m) in Covid-19 relief funding on top of its US$1.2m (TT$8.14m) annual subvention.

None of the other committee members objected to his statement, so it stands to reason that they agree.

Hadad lied and said he paid the national coaches. He didn’t. The rest of the normalisation committee said nothing; so they too lied.

Yet without those very players and coaches who they refuse to pay, there would be no football and no need for their committee.

Those are not the actions of successful business persons. Those are the actions of scabs.

TTFA stakeholders chide FIFA appointee.
T&T Express Reports.


IT’S AKIN to parents complaining about their child’s behaviour.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) stakeholders have complained to football governing body FIFA about the conduct of Robert Hadad, chairman of the normalisation committee appointed last March to reorganise the financially-strapped local association.

Yesterday, in a signed letter, the stakeholders, comprising several board members, wrote Hadad citing several disagreements with the way in which he is running football.

Carbon-copied to FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura and normalisation committee members Nigel Romano, Judy Daniel and Trevor Gomez, the business communiqué critiqued Hadad’s management style.

The 15-page letter bore the signatures of Brent Sancho, acting TT Pro League chairman; Referees Association president Osmond Downer; Secondary Schools League president Merere Gonzales; Eastern Football Association president Kieron Edwards; Northern Football Association president Ross Russell; Southern Football Association president Richard Quan Chan; Central Football Association president Shamdeo Gosein and Eastern Counties Football Association vice-president Ian Pritchard.

The last time stakeholders were so unanimous in their action, it led to former TTFA president Williams Wallace being told that he did not have stakeholders’ support for court action and paved the way for Hadad’s normalisation committee taking over.

Now stakeholders also seem dissatisfied with Hadad as well. Coaches, players and staff have either not been paid or are not being paid on time and Hadad, a local businessman with no football history, is accused of ignoring the input of the people involved in football.

Hadad did not respond to enquiries by the Sunday Express yesterday, however, the TTFA later issued the following press statement: “The normalisation committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has received a letter from TTFA members on 1 May 2021. We understand the concerns of the TTFA members and will be addressing those issues with the membership directly this week.

“It must be noted that many details outlined in the document are inaccurate and based on assumptions. We will endeavour to improve on the communication channels between the TTFA and its membership so that the members are provided with accurate sources of information on these matters, with the aim of fostering a stronger relationship between all parties.”

One of the main issues TTFA stakeholders have with Hadad is what they see as his failure to communicate.

“The SSFL’s position is simply the need to have a meeting,” schools league president Gonzales told the Sunday Express. “We think it is long overdue that a meeting should be held with the stakeholders.”

The letter to Hadad added: “To date, there has been no communication between the normalisation committee and the members of the TTFA, no monthly management reports presented to members since the committee’s appointment in March 2020, no budgets or projected cash flow statements for the year 2021. Please note as members of the TTFA we are very concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability regarding the day-to-day affairs of the Association.”

Hadad was also chided for hiring foreign coaches instead of looking at less expensive local alternatives.

“In an already cash-strapped environment, would it not be more prudent to retain our well capable local coaches for a reasonable cost? We the members are of the opinion that this is not financially prudent and it clearly illustrates poor financial management, which is contrary to your instructions given by FIFA,” the letter stated.

“There are also examples of the futsal and the beach soccer where you have hired expensive foreign coaches during this financially turbulent time when you need to manage our limited funds wisely of which you have not been doing. Your spending on coaches is exorbitant, excessive and ridiculous. Such expenditure cannot be justified given your debt management mandate by FIFA. Since your appointment on the 27th of March 2020, there seems to be an increase in expenditure for the TTFA,” it was noted.

The stakeholders also wanted to know what Hadad had done in a year to reduce the $50 million-plus TTFA debt.

“We the undersigned request that you notify us of the debt repayment plan that has been implemented by the normalisation committee and as mandated by FIFA. This is also critical, since this was the primary reason behind FIFA removing the duly elected administration and installing yourself as chairman of the normalisation committee and yet you too have been unable to present a practical and workable financially prudent debt repayment plan.”

The TTFA stakeholders also want Hadad’s explanation about issues surrounding the contract of current men’s national team head coach Terry Fenwick. They also raised Hadad’s failure to adequately address Fenwick’s conduct, following last month’s public bust-up with TTFA media officer Shaun Fuentes.