The annual general meeting (AGM) of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) held recently seemed to have stirred up a hornet's nest with the football fraternity in the country seeking answers on the 2019 financials.
Admittedly, I am perplexed by the normalisation committee and its role. You see, I thought this committee was instituted to oversee the finances of the TTFA and to be totally transparent when it came to revenue (if any) and expenditure. Therefore, to read that members are seeking answers on financials is extremely disappointing.
FIFA’s media release dated March 17, 2020, noted that the committee was to fulfil four specific aims: (1) To run the TTFA’s daily affairs; I suppose that this is ongoing, for the most part, as every now and again, a release is published from the general secretary (Ag.) Amiel Mohammed or the chairman of the committee Robert Hadad making a statement on the news with either an appointment or the clarification of a query.
(2) To establish a debt repayment plan that is implemented by the TTFA; I will have to address that a little later on because I am completely baffled by that in terms of some statements attributed to Hadad.
(3) To review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress; - I do not have a clue if and when this is supposed to be done so naturally, I reached out to two individuals closely linked with football in T&T. One laughed sarcastically and said, “Boy I really don’t know. This normalisation committee is looking to shut down football in the country.” The other person said, “I have no idea.” At that point, I did not feel too bad as, to be honest, I did not want to admit that I, too, did not have a clue.
(4) To organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate. It appears elections of a new executive is not on the short term agenda of this normalisation committee. Perhaps, it is because they have not completely fulfilled their mandate given to them by FIFA. The normalisation committee was appointed in March 2020 and their mandate clearly states: “The specified period of time during which the normalisation committee will perform its functions will expire as soon as it has fulfilled all of its assigned tasks, but no later than 24 months after its members have been officially appointed by FIFA”. The clock is slowly ticking for Hadad and his team as their 24 month term ends in March 2022.
Let us now focus on this debt repayment plan. Since the normalisation committee was appointed, presumably their most important mandate was to establish this plan, I would have assumed that the first order of business was to get all of TTFA’s financials in order.
Therefore, I was taken by surprise when I saw the Guardian headline on September 27, 2021 which read, “TTFA members seek answers on 2019 financials”. The audit was rejected at the AGM and I genuinely cannot understand why the normalisation committee failed to get approval for the 2019 audited financial statement. Maybe I am being totally naive but here is a committee appointed by the highest body in football with their mandate to look after the finances and debt repayment and they cannot even get the finances passed.
Further, if no approval of the audited financials are given, then decisions had to be deferred on the debt repayment plan if it even exists. As a result, TTFA is also unlikely to receive further funding from FIFA. Naturally, with the debt estimated at $98.5Million, some members enquired about the current debt and why a title or lease for the land that houses the so-called ‘Home of Football’ has not been acquired by the normalisation committee.
Why would the committee exclude the value of the land which is estimated at around $42Million? Something is not sitting right here. Wasn’t the land given to the TTFA by the government? FIFA gave the money and TTFA built the ‘Home of Football’. Everybody posed and smiled at the opening and gave lavish speeches and praises on this beautiful structure that was going to take TTFA out of debt and was supposed to be the shining light for the future of Trinidad & Tobago's football development.
From then to now, no deed or lease has been obtained by anyone. So let us be fair to the normalisation committee. They only came into office in March 2020 but from then to October 2021, they cannot get some documents from the government to satisfy the auditors? Stakeholders complain about footballing decisions made by the normalisation committee and while I can understand that they may lack the footballing knowledge, it is beyond me that when it comes to decisions not pertaining to football, they seem to get it all wrong. Who is responsible for obtaining this certificate? I cannot believe that football is at a standstill because of this.
Now, without that $42Million in the accounts and with the debt at $98.5Million, Hadad has admitted that the TTFA is insolvent but it is not something they are looking at right now.
I am even more confused - is it now that the normalisation committee is looking to raise funds? Is it now that the normalisation committee is looking at some sort of process to repay the debt that suddenly came upon them? Is it now they are looking for donations? Is it now they are looking for sponsors some 19 months into its two-year term?
Hadad goes on, “there are many ways to deal with this debt but it’s not going to happen overnight”. Really? Why is the government now getting involved? Surely, one should have been having dialogue with the government one year ago. All of a sudden the Minister of Sport and Community Development needs to be part of a discussion to clear the debt. I know that when I am allowed to go back into the sea (bizarre that waterparks are allowed to open before beaches), once the water starts to go from my feet to my knee to my waist to my head, it might be too late for me to survive so from the time I go into the water, I should have a plan.
Once more, football has remained at rock bottom. Meanwhile, Jamaica's premier division is in full flow with good, competitive matches played weekly while our football is at a standstill. No payment of players, no tournaments for the teams, no training and we are going nowhere fast. Well, as they say, another day in paradise.
SOURCE: T&T Guardian