Sun, Jun

Ramesh Ramdhan

Despite the issuing of fresh elections by the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee last week, the sport is not yet in a safe place and will not be until there are changes in the people lobbying for positions to lead it, Ramesh Ramdhan said yesterday.

However, his entry into the administration of the sport as the general secretary of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) in 2019 was short-lived, as the sport's world governing body- FIFA intervened to cut short the William Wallace-led administration which had only been in power for three months.

Ramdhan, who was the first referee from the Caribbean to officiate in the World Cup Finals (Japan-Croatia) during the 1998 World Cup in France, also had a short stint in the same position within the normalisation committee before his departure from the sport which he claimed owed unpaid salaries for several months.

The normalisation committee, led by businessman Robert Hadad, last week, issued an April 30 date for fresh elections of the TTFA, leading to the usual off-the-field battle among administrators.

To date, only three candidates - Selby Browne, the president of the Veterans Football Foundation of T&T, Keiron Edwards - president of the Eastern Football Association, and businessman and Southern Football Association president Dennis Latiff have shown an interest in leading the T&T football public.

Speaking to Guardian Media Sports on Thursday, Ramdhan issued a football card that would prevent all candidates from even considering the elections, noting that he had 'no confidence' in any of them. He said he believed that former TTFA Special Advisor Jack Warner was the most successful administrator in T&T, and urged whoever the new administration is, to seek advice from Warner if they wanted to be successful.

"There are not enough people involved in football presently, who could make a significant contribution to change our direction. I think we need people outside of the normal association and membership, who could impact football in a different way. It has not worked in the past, and apart from from FIVA vice president Jack Warner, who was a one-man show and who had resources at his hands, I think we need a group of people collectively, who really have an interest in football and not personal agendas," Ramdhan said.

Warner, who also held the positions of CONCACAF and Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, has been banned from football for life and is also indicted on corruption charges by the US authorities, who are seeking to have him extradited.

However, Ramdhan said, "I think too many of our people who are involved in football right now have their own agendas, it's friendship, it's where you from, it's all kinds of different things. I can call people from outside of the current crop of association members to come and really make a proper contribution to football."

Ramdhan said: "Any contribution Mr Warner has to make in football will be useful, and I am saying that it is the most successful administration, given all the negatives that people put on the table where his administration is concerned. I think Trinidad has seen success under Mr Warner, albeit all that was said about him. Warner has a wealth of knowledge in football, especially in the marketing of the game, and the way he promotes the game, but he didn't go beyond it, which I wanted him to do and set up academies and so on and take it from the grassroots level up, but there was too much to be done at the top and he wanted quick success and he didn't see that then."

He added, "In his point of view, it was important in getting a team to the football World Cup. People might say we have the best chance now to qualify for another World Cup in 2026, and yes they have a possibility of several teams from the CONCACAF region that could possibly be in the World Cup, so yes we have a great chance. Between now and 2026, it takes somebody with experience, who has done it before to help us down that road, and I feel that in some way, whichever administration comes into office, they should seek out Mr Warner's advice on how to get there."

SOURCE: T&T Guardian