Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe has said her government’s focus right now is not to try and clear or repay any debt of the T&T Football Association.
Cudjoe in an interview on the I95.5FM Sports Programme with Andre Baptiste on Saturday made it clear that any money that will be put out by her government for football, will be for the development and upgrade of the athletes. The government last year, also took a very firm position to not assist the United TTFA under William Wallace in its fight to prevent the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee from replacing it as managers of the sport in T&T.
Then Cudjoe had said that if the normalization committee was coming to clear the existing debt, then it should be allowed, as her government was strapped for cash.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sought to make situations worse for sports and funding, but the inability of the normalization committee to clear the existing debt to date has created little concern for the minister.
She gave the assurance the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT) has been working alongside the TTFA and FIFA to come up with a plan to ensure the liquidation of a debt of $98.5 million which was released to the public by the normalisation committee, following an audit by Ernest and Young (EY) recently.
The debt did not surprise Cudjoe, but she said she awaits the proposal coming to her desk from SporTT and the TTFA/NC to see how good it will be and what she plans to do.
“There are many lessons to be learnt from this TTFA experience for other NGBs, that relates to proper leadership, accountability, transparency, proper management and so on because this problem with the TTFA did not start today, yesterday or even two or five years ago, so there’s a lot of work to be done.
Rome was not built in a day, so TTFA has some significant work to be done. I don’t want to pre-empt the action or the proposal or the discussions they are having with FIFA.
I know they’re working on some sort of plan, so until I see their final plan or the different options they are considering, I can’t say how good it is just yet.”
Cudjoe also had some advice for the embattled football association, while commending people like Robert Hadad, chairman of the normalization committee, and others who have been working diligently on what has to be done to bring the sport back to a position of normalcy.
“TTFA needs to meet with all the different bodies, the different arms and units. No one group can do this alone, and of course, there is still a lot of issues still boiling and bubbling in the football fraternity in T&T.
For them to make any significant leap forward, conversations must take place and they must try and unite to at least get football back to some sort of normalcy. So, I commend those who are working diligently right now, and are trying to get that kind of work done, Hadad and his team at the TTFA to Douglas Camacho and his team at the SporTT, as well as all other stakeholders.”
Only last week the normalization committee revealed that Ernest and Young (EY) will also work with them to devise a proper plan to clear the existing debt.