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FIFA President, Gianni Infantino came to Trinidad in late 2019 and complimented David John Williams, the then President of the TTFA on how well-run TT football was. He lauded the Home of Football.
Four months later, Infantino changed his mind. He decided that TT’s Football had been mismanaged for years and now needed a Normalisation Committee. He was quite happy when his colleague and supporter, Williams, was running the show. However, the moment the United TTFA headed by new President, William Wallace decided they wanted to know exactly how Williams’ TTFA had spent FIFA’s fund for the construction of the HOF, Infantino had a change of heart.
Fast forward seven months later, the local FA unable to afford a trial with the Court of Arbitration (CAS), has resorted to the TT’s Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, Justice Carol Gobin in her ruling for the TTFA said that FIFA’s decision to appoint a Normalisation Committee was “done in bad faith and for an improper and illegal motive.”
Any logical thinking person could have seen this decision coming in a tribunal devoid of partisan motives.
FIFA does not recognise the legal authority of any country and believes its matter should be adjudicated by CAS. However, conveniently for FIFA, the TTFA was expected to burden the cost for both parties which it could not.
FIFA not having an argument based on logic or moral high ground, has used its most lethal leverage, banning the country from all international footballing activities akin to a tyrant banning his subjects’ access to supermarkets if they don’t capitulate.
The matter has been compounded by the different stakeholders in TT Football now pressuring the FA to back off, after all, Coaches want to get paid and footballers want to play international tournaments.
When you pressure someone not because they did wrong but because of selfish, nepotistic reasons, this is called extortion. The entire footballing world has stood by and said nothing. The CFU and CONCACAF showing how useless they are when one of their own is maligned.
Even more sadly, the country’s PM, Dr. Keith Rowley and the Minister of Sport, Shamfa Cudjoe, seemed to have no problem backing FIFA so that the country can once again join the international footballing world. What ever happened to “Massah day done”?
Rowley even sarcastically announced to the world that the TTFA have won and now TT can play against itself and therefore never lose. How is it that a PM and his MOS cannot see what Judge Gobin and so many others clearly can. Or is it just easier to bow your head and say “Yes Massah.”
Wallace after the fact was accused of signing contracts without the Board’s knowledge, quite rightfully the Board disassociated themselves with him, maintaining their credibility.
CNC’s Mark Basant in a scathing expose highlighted Williams' misspending of funds, purchasing equipment from Panama as well as apparently conveniently hiring contractors for projects costing less than three hundred thousand dollars (TT) which would not require a tendering process; thus, one in reality could spend millions without having a tender.
Now FIFA is very quiet about its former friend, John David Williams. It has been reported in the local press that different government entities are suddenly interested in how the HOF was financed including the Fraud Squad.
Sadly, one has to ask where the hell they were for the last fifty years? How many times have TTFA administrations in the past been less than transparent with funds? When a local judge in a ruling for the 2006 Soca Warriors vs the TTFA in 2010, cited the FA’s books as “science fiction,” where was the Ministry of Sport/Finance/Fraud Squad’s concern for an organisation that seemed to have squandered well over a hundred million dollars over the previous decade?
Sadly, a nation like ours is often referred to as “Third World” for a reason.
TTFA Technical Committee Chairman, Keith Look Loy, has resigned and President Wallace seems on the verge of doing whatever the different fractions wish in an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to be held on October 25.
The United TTFA refused to capitulate. They chose to stand on the side of right against an organisation that is a stranger to transparency and fair play. Perhaps the one positive from all of this is that regardless of the outcome, if there was any delusion regarding Infantino and the FIFA executive’s lack of ethics, it no longer exists.
The local FA was willing to sacrifice short term benefits for the integrity of local football, a precedent that may have benefitted many other small nations in the future. However, surrounded by local critics they may eventually capitulate. And then what?
What does this Normalisation Committee know about running Football? What is their five-year plan? It has been reported in the local press that the NC’s Head, Robert Haddad has resorted to asking Williams for advice. The same Williams that was voted out of power and that FIFA endeavoured so diligently to protect from financial scrutiny. Can one get a Normalisation Committee to replace the FIFA Executive?
One would have thought that the TT government would have been appalled by an outsider’s immoral interference and perhaps funded the local FA’s CAS appeal. It’s not like FIFA could normalize the local Cabinet.
This saga has had more turns than the drive to Maracas Beach, Trinidad. Whatever the final outcome, it is obvious to all and sundry that FIFA is an immoral, shameless organization that can apparently harass small footballing nations in an unfettered manner.
Pele visits Howard University, 1971.
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John David Williams