FIFA recently announced an extraordinary incursion into Caribbean football administration with the creation of a Normalisation Committee per Article 7 of the FIFA Statutes.
While some would characterize, FIFA’s move as an overreach of its organizational powers, at best, or the introduction of European neocolonialism, at worst, I am of the opinion that FIFA has a legitimate role to play in reforming Caribbean football administration; not because FIFA is the paragon of best administrative and ethical practices; as recent events have suggested they are not.
Rather, FIFA’s responsibility is, in part, an opportunity to redeem itself as much as it is a duty to help clean up the mess they partly created.
There must be an unapologetic call to urge FIFA to respect Caribbean administrators and society. Self-determination and the right to autonomously manage the crisis cannot be bargained away.
However, as the parable holds “to whom much is given, much is expected in return.”
Our Caribbean administrators must rise to the occasion and take heed of the opportunity presented to create administrative models that recognize the vital importance of all stakeholders connected to the football family. Be it players, coaches, officials, fans, media, or administrators. Everyone involved in the game must possess the proper level of mutual respect and support.
Nowhere does this new paradigm meet its greatest challenge than in Trinidad and Tobago.
As a result of the tremendous challenges posed by its own making, the TTFF is in need of a Marshall-plan type approach to not only fix the damage and reverse the abuses done over the years but to better ensure the TTFF and CFU by extension become a beacon of the best practices of sports administration.
In keeping with that view, I am of the belief that FIFA has a responsibility to adhere to the “Pottery Barn Rule” made famous by Colin Powell in explaining why invading Baghdad was a bad idea. In essence, the rule is ” you break it, you fix it”.
Several reasons support this approach.
First, if FIFA is truly interested in helping its member organizations embrace transparency and good governance, they have an obligation to play a key role in repairing the TTFF.
Second, FIFA, through its own omission and/or collusion failed to engage in proper oversight of millions of dollars earmarked for football development to benefit the whole of Trinidad and Tobago.
Third, neglectful oversight of the TTFF enabled the festering of poor administrative, accounting, and ethical practices within the TTFF leading the organization to its present state of turmoil.
There will undoubtedly be howls of imperialism from those who want to maintain the status quo and a clamor of empty promises claiming that change is coming. However, recent events suggest otherwise when one hears about the arbitrary dismissal of the Olympic team manager and assistant manager.
Such actions demonstrate the ethos and spirit of the old TTFF is firmly embedded in the marrow of the new leadership.
Without a substantive change in the current TTFF constitution, any attempt of real reform that will provide the professional and amateur clubs their rightful stake in football affairs and to invite competent administrators and other resourceful Trinbagonians to the table is likely to fail.
The crisis currently facing T&T football can become the greatest opportunity to build anew, reject the practices of the past, and engage in proper stewardship of the game. The only way such a vision will come to fruition is if everyone from Port of Spain to Zurich, who claim interest in the betterment of the game, demand better performance and accountability from policy-makers while acknowledging their own responsibility in the stewardship of the game.
As a guideline for those seeking a clear path to reform, a Declaration of Good Governance and Accountability In T&T Football is offered to not only illustrate why reform is needed but also to provide a litmus test and pledge of deliverables for anyone seeking access to policy making roles within the TTFF.
One cannot expect the current TTFF leadership to willingly alter organizational by-laws that would expose them for possible replacement. Wishful thinking and fairy tale endings have no place in tackling the most substantive crisis to ever face T&T football.
It is time to make a new social contract and demand from those who earn the privilege of guiding the TTFF accountability and a promise of good governance.
DECLARATION OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE IN T&T FOOTBALL
WHEREAS, The present national governing body of football in Trinidad and Tobago as recognized by FIFA and CONCACAF and known as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation has inefficiently, neglectfully, and with little to no accountability operated football matters in Trinidad and Tobago,
WHEREAS, The current state of football in Trinidad and Tobago as influenced by the present national governing body is in an unacceptable condition,
WHEREAS, The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation is presently and will be for the foreseeable future operate at or near an insolvent level,
WHEREAS, Further dependence on the present national governing body will result in continued deterioration in the condition of all aspects of football in Trinidad and Tobago.
THE DECLARATION OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE is offered to publically affirm and formally request FIFA and CONCACAF to install, per Article 7 of the FIFA Statutes, a Normalisation Committee for the purpose of removing the Executive Board of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation; and any entity or individual that assumes a policy making and/or executive role on its behalf, and replace the current Executive Board with a local group of individuals dedicated to transparency, accountability, and good governance.
It is further noted that policy makers within the reconstituted national football governing body shall be expected to commit to the following resolutions:
1. Resolved, to repair and reconstruct the present Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation Constitution and Statutes to properly reflect, serve, and represent the needs of all facets of the football family in Trinidad and Tobago.
2. Resolved, to establish direct discussions with players from the 2006 Senior Men’s National Team who remain engaged in legal dispute with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation for the purpose of ending their plight and incorporate their valuable resources to assist in the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago.
3. Resolved, to create a series of committees for the purpose of analyzing and addressing areas of vital interest in the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago.
4. Resolved, to reinvigorate robust support from all sectors of the Trinidad and Tobago Diaspora for the growth and development of football in Trinidad and Tobago.
5. Resolved, to work toward the goal of having both the Men’s and Women’s Senior National Teams achieve no less than a top 50 mark in the FIFA ranking of national association teams.
6. Resolved, to establish Trinidad and Tobago as a destination point for international clubs for the purpose of providing both player development and commercial opportunities.
7. Resolved, to establish a formal association with Transparency International to ensure the ideals of this declaration are adhered to and respected.
8. Resolved, to rebrand the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation in a manner that is representative of a new spirit and direction.
9. Resolved, to develop commercial opportunities and multiple revenue streams that will provide both a favorable return on investment to the stakeholders and opportunity to properly capitalize programs and initiatives that fall under the auspices of the national football governing body.
10. Resolved, to utilize various means of traditional and digital communication in order to establish a robust and substantive level of information pertaining to matters associated with national programs and initiatives.
The undersigned, shall without reserve and with malice toward none, declare the current incarnation of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation to be an entity that has squandered the confidence of its constituency and as such does not hold the level of legitimacy required to properly conduct its affairs.