NEWS THAT the General Council of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is undertaking an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the holding of the November 19 game between this country and the USA with special reference to the ordering, purchasing, and accounting for tickets and passes, is a move in the right direction.
So far information reveals that (a) there were thousands more tickets in circulation than the TTFA said it printed and sold; (b) the TTFA said it put on sale 28,500, and there were an additional 3,000 complimentary tickets and passes; (c) the National Stadium, designed to hold 25,000, was jam-packed with more than 40,000; (d) because of the crowd, many ticket holders were refused entry at the Stadium and told to go to the Oval; (e) after the game the Stadium produced 34,834 ticket stubs collected at the gates; f) these tickets were in a number range 1 to 45,000 without duplications; (g) the Stadium also collected 13 bogus tickets which were numbered outside of the 45,000; (h) the TTFA has refused to refund ticket holders who failed to gain entry to the Stadium; (i) the TTFA have refused to reveal the numbering sequence of the tickets they said they printed;(j) the TTFA have revealed that they were paid for passes which were supposed to have been complimentary.
Many other statements and contradictions have surfaced. Indeed, after what the TTFA named "Victory Week" we have been having "Mystery Week" with continuously unfolding revelations of a ticket fiasco in which almost every explanation has raised more questions.
We are not accusing anybody. We are not against anybody. We are for the public and the national interest. In our view the interest of [missing] November 19. We must find out what the truth is and the sooner, the better.
A number of TTFA officials have adopted the attitude that some sort of witch-hunt is on. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It was a TTFA official who first sounded the alert about bogus tickets. It was a TTFA official who said that tickets were being sold in the USA and that printing plates were being sold there and brought to Trinidad. It was a TTFA official who assured the public that there were ways of detecting bogus tickets and that scanners would be in position at the gates of entry. It was a TTFA official who said the guy who was supposed to bring the scanner did not turn up at the last minute.
We believed it all until November 19 when chaos took over.
The man who was supposed to bring in the scanners denied it and has said that he first held discussions about scanners when he came here for the match on November 19.
A TTFA official criticised the special treatment given to the USA team when it arrived at Piarco. The Airports Authority has said that it was the TTFA that requested use of the VIP Lounge at the airport and planned entertainment for the arriving players.
The TTFA said reports were made to the Police. The Police have denied this. Rumours abound. The people of this country paid $50 and S25 for tickets to see the game at the National Stadium. Many of those who got in found themselves packed like sardines in a can. Many could not get in and were sent to the Oval to watch the game on a screen that was of poor quality, and to add insult to injury the TTFA has refused to make refunds to those ticket holders who failed to gain entry to the Stadium.
Where else in the world would any promoter get away with such behaviour towards its paying patrons?
In the good name of that splendid team who performed so well in their efforts to qualify for the World Cup, we demand that the issue of [missing] else be cleared up to the satisfaction of the public who gave such unstinting support.
In this regard the Minister of Sport, Mrs. Jennifer Johnson must make it clear to the TTFA, to whose efforts she gave such fullsome support, that they have an obligation to reveal all the facts.