Fri, Apr

CoP has change of heart, helps T&T footballers, staff get visa.

COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith has continued to assist the national men’s senior football team weeks after saying he will no longer support the team.

Over the past decade, Griffith has thrown support behind the national team. Over the past year, he has come to the aid of national players under former coach Terry Fenwick which included providing meals and transport.

He has also allowed the team to train at the St James Police Barracks.

Angus Eve replaced Fenwick as interim head coach on June 13. Eve contacted Griffith in an effort to get visas for two of his players and two technical staff members.

At a Police briefing on Tuesday, Griffith said, “As the Commissioner of Police at times I would interact with the US Embassy…I was liaising with the immigration department to try to see how we could fast track to get those passports to have players that might very well have competed or even replaced my son (Gary Griffith III). In this same situation, Angus Eve got the job yesterday for today. He had to fly out a couple days later, he contacted me and there were two players he needed to get on board.”

Griffith confirmed two members of the technical staff also needed help getting visas.

“There were four persons that he asked for me to assist desperately…I interact on a regular basis with our international allies so I was able to liaise with them and explain the situation (that) it was national duty for national players and if they were able to assist.”

Griffith has been criticised for his connection with the national team and was questioned if he was trying to get his son Griffith III on the team.

In a statement on Facebook on June 4, Griffith said he will no longer support the team following criticism that his involvement was in an effort to get his son chosen.

“Today, I am more convinced than ever, that my decision to now, walk away completely from any further assistance, support of, or with the men’s national senior team is the correct thing to do, as nothing in this world is more important to me than my family. Today, Express journalist, (named reporter), in her continued attempts to obtain an ‘ah ketch yuh’ moment, has now moved into sport reporting, and joined the ranks of the many in this country who have found it fulfilling to discredit, disrespect, and pour disdain upon my son.”

On Tuesday, implying that his son may be next in line, Griffith, who is not a T&T football selector, said, “These two individuals got their US visas and because of that my son who was on the previous squad of 23 for the last World Cup (qualifying) game against St Kitts was then dropped for another player who I got the visa for. So persons who claim that I have influence on getting my son on the national team put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Griffith III was part of the 60-man provisional squad for the Gold Cup qualifying tournament named on June 18. When the squad was cut to 26 a week later Griffith III was not included.

T&T will face Montserrat in the first round of the qualifiers on Friday in Ft Lauderdale.

Newsday tried to call normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad but was not successful. Newsday also sent a few questions to Hadad via WhatsApp on Tuesday night. Newsday asked whether the normalisation committee planned to continue working with Griffith, whether team management or the Ministry of Sport should facilitate the process in getting visas for the players instead of Griffith and if the normalisation committee is concerned by the conflict of interest because Griffith's son is part of the training squad.

The normalisation committee is in charge of the operations of the TT Football Association.