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CFU: DJW’s unilateral support for Infantino weakens Caribbean football

Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick said he was surprised by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams’ decision to give his support to UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino for the FIFA presidential elections on February 26.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and UEFA general secretary and FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and UEFA general secretary and FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Infantino is one of five candidates for the FIFA presidency along with: the Jordan Football Association president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, ex-FIFA executive Jerome Champagne, Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and former South Africa government minister and businessman Tokyo Sexwale.

Former Trinidad and Tobago football captain David Nakhid had also contested the post but FIFA controversially declared his nomination to be invalid.

John-Williams told the TTFA Media that he was impressed by Infantino’s promise to help develop football facilities in the region, increase the FAP grant and provide increased technical support for coaching.

However, Derrick said the Caribbean decided, two weeks ago, to have a second meeting before, hopefully, deciding upon a preferred candidate. Only three of the five candidates, Infantino, Prince Ali and Champagne, attended the CFU meeting last month in Antigua.

“I was a bit surprised (with the TTFA’s endorsement,” Derrick told Wired868. “The idea was we are supposed to get together on the 12th of February in Miami where some candidates would be presenting themselves again. And we will then decide on who we support…

“In our discussions, the overtones from the meeting was we would discuss as a group, although there was no directive given.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (right) collects the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick. (Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Maylee Attin-Johnson (right) collects the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick.
(Courtesy Jinelle James/WOLF)

Apart from Trinidad and Tobago, the Grenada Football Association (GFA), which previously backed disgraced former UEFA president and presidential candidate Michel Platini, is the only Caribbean nation to declare its hand.

Grenada also supports Infantino.

Infantino, a 45 year old lawyer with joint Swiss and Italian nationality, has won support on the mainland too where all seven UNCAF (Central American Football Union) members—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua—declared its support for the UEFA General Secretary as a bloc.

Derrick suggested that the Caribbean’s failure to similarly make collective decisions and harness the strength of its 25 votes is harmful to the region’s future.

“I always said when we make decisions collectively we are stronger,” said Derrick, “and we have to make our decisions in unity to get what we want for our region. If we divide and split among ourselves our bargaining power is diminished…

“I cannot force anyone to select a candidate against their will. But at least we would have decided together.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Still, Derrick conceded that he would have to understand if John-Williams was pressed by the TTFA board of directors into selecting Infantino.

“Each association is responsible to its own members and constituents,” said the CFU president, “and, if they are pushed by their constituents, they might have to respond in that way.

“I don’t know if it is they were pushed. But maybe that was the case.”

So was John-Williams’ choice for FIFA president done through consultation with the TTFA board? Or did the former W Connection president publicly bind his 12-member board to a unilateral decision?

Three TTFA board members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were not invited to any meeting to discuss the football body’s choice as FIFA president and are unsure as to whether there was any such dialogue.

All three board members said they heard about the TTFA’s endorsement of Infantino in the media.

Photo: UEFA general secretary and FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: UEFA general secretary and FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

The TTFA release on its choice of Infantino did not suggest a group meeting or that the UEFA official met anyone in Trinidad but the local football president.

John-Williams, who initially promised a consultative approach to his presidency, did not respond to Wired868’s enquiry as to why he chose to declare his support for Infantino before formal discussions with the CFU and whether his choice was shared with and ratified by the TTFA board.

Derrick declined comment on a Reuter report, which claimed that FIFA has decided to withhold funding to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL until both bodies were able to give unspecified “assurances” on how developmental money will be spent.

“We can confirm that in light of current proceedings involving individuals related to CONMEBOL and CONCACAF,” a FIFA spokesperson told Reuters, “FIFA has put contributions towards these two Confederations on hold until further notice.

“We are currently assessing further steps to be taken to increase the level of assurance which may again enable FIFA to release such funds in the future.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 captain Shannon Gomez (centre) takes the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 captain Shannon Gomez (centre) takes the 2014 Caribbean Cup trophy from CFU president Gordon Derrick.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Derrick said the CFU will cross that bridge when it gets to it.

“I saw it in a blog today,” said Derrick, “and I cannot speak until there is an official communique.”

So far, FIFA has not declared any intention to penalise specific confederations for corruption while ongoing United States Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations unearthed wrongdoing beyond the Americas with officials and football bodies in Europe, Africa and Asia also being fingered.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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94 comments

  1. …and the beat goes on….smokes and mirrors. It would be interesting to know the views of other well known commentators, experts and vocal officials on this issue of a divided region….and ask them who they favour as the next FIFA President and why? Where are all the ExCo’s and football wheelers and dealers? Who promise what to who? http://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/jan/16/salman-bin-ebrahim-al-khalifa-prince-ali-bin-al-hussein-fifa-presidential-election

  2. Bound to be something in it for him. Same ole same ole

  3. Yeah. Probably a little bit Gordon. Because he is saying they won’t penalise members for not voting in line with the group as Jack Warner used to do. But that they want to at least try to have a consensus.

    • From the UK Guardian earlier last month: Meanwhile the Uefa general secretary, Gianni Infantino, has insisted he is in the race to win after campaigning in the Caribbean.

      “I am going for the win. I am the candidate for the presidency and this support gives me even more responsibility and even more will to go until the end to become president of Fifa,” he said, before a Uefa executive committee meeting next week.

    • We will see who benefits most from this.

  4. . Like all politicians do. LOL But the CFU needs to vote en bloc to survive..

  5. This d same Gordon Derrick who said the caribbean will not be voting enblock again??? Not that i agreed with that seems he is flip floping!!!

  6. I think a one on one interview with DJW is probably now due Lasana Liburd.. What say you?

  7. One thing though Andreas, if a quarter of the TTFA board outside of DJW’s executive committee said they were not told of a board meeting, then how could the “board” possibly have okayed it?
    Do you still need to hear from the other board members to know it couldn’t have been a decision taken after proper consultation?

    • nah of course not…. if only one say he didn’t know and the other side cant prove he was properly notified then there was no meeting as far as i concern…. i didn’t see the part that 1/4 didn’t know about a meeting… then clearly there was none….

  8. When I read about DJW support of Infantino so early I was surprised and suspicious. As bad as Sepp and JW were it kept the voting power with black and brown people since Europe had the financial power. The fact that many of those black and brown’s abused their weak institutions is not a reason to give Europe the voting power to go along with financial power. Life has thought me that when you can’t find any logical rationale for someone’s action outside of love, its because someone is making money.

  9. Not sure… to be honest i’m not into thee details of Football i leave that to Lasana, i was more making general policy statements, that i think apply to all sport administrations….

  10. But wasn’t there a suggestion at one time that under Tim Kee the TTFA was leaning towards the Sheikh because we changed uniform sponsors or something like that?

  11. That supposed FIFA decision confounds me though Keith. That surely can’t stand up to legal challenge.
    How can FIFA justify cutting funding to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL and not the other confederations that are just as guilty? Ridiculous in my opinion.
    FIFA has to pull its own socks up and supervise the money properly.

  12. ..Package what you drinking and you will be a rich man. LOL..

  13. Leadership Manual (Step One): Understand that all criticism is not meant as a personal attack but a challenge to improve…

  14. Just like DJW would be disappointed if and when Infantino takes over. The irony! Lol.

  15. ..Lasana you and I have had this discussion before. Football and Society require a serious flowering of democracy FROM BELOW. in our case we are talking about the clubs and other constituencies within football taking responsibility for the direction and future of the local game. As long as we keep looking for a man with a promise so long are we wasting time and emotions..

  16. This is just so tiring and tedious. The moral of the story can only be that leaders don’t change things. It is the people who do.
    We cannot wait forever on “the right leader” yes. We have to crack the whip and get whoever is there to do their jobs properly.

  17. At least football holds their AGM when constitutionally due… That is a good aspect of the TTFA constitution…. The last time Asatt held a constitutional due AGM,….. Eric Williams was the PM

  18. ..Steups.None of that will happen. Same ole same ole..

  19. They can call an emergency meeting. Beyond that there is a no confidence vote. Either requires a large section of stakeholders.

    • Hahahaha! You made me laugh!
      But you all just a new constitution! How are disciplinarian measures for board members not a clear part of it?

    • Putting measures in place for firing the Board/Executive or part thereof is always a tricky issue. On one hand you want to give the council(Members) to have control over their interest and how it is applied, on the other hand that cannot be too easy cause then everyone who has a beef with the current Exec/Board will just get them fired for whatever reason they feel and the the Board Chairs are considered unsafe as you wont stand a chance to finish your Term (that would apply to those that to good as well as those who do bad….). But this does not quite seem a council issue yet anyways, in fact you not even sure whether the board actually disagrees on what he told the public. That would only be the case if a majority of the Board now steps forward and says that this has not been voted on….. and then we will see how much of a democrat (not as in the US-Party sense) he is and corrects what he said…. but generally this and other things don’t look well and that raises the topic Gordon Pierre told Lasana Liburd that he giving sport a bad rep by focusing on the negative (or something like that) that is not the case … in most cases the NF Admins manage all by themselves to get a bad rep…. and along the road do plenty damage to those which really trying hard to do better…..

    • The issue here Andreas wasn’t whether the board agrees with him or not or whether I like his choice.
      It is whether there was proper consultation at local or regional level and what the impact might be.
      If I woke up on September 7 and realised you went and voted for me, maybe you voted for the candidate I would have chosen.
      Would that make it right? If I asked you who you voted for and it turns out to be a candidate I liked, do I then say: no harm then, thanks.
      So we disagree on what the fundamental issue is here.

    • When a decision is made, the question is always: do stakeholders agree? Is there consensus? Was there consultation?
      This is before we discuss whether or not it was a good idea.
      Look at those three simple questions and ask yourself whether they are devious and out of place. And then ask yourself how many time sporting bodies fail when those questions are applied.
      Then apply the same tests to different fields. For example, if Rowley decided to spend on Brian Lara Stadium without consulting anyone from his Cabinet. Of if he had the US AG over to discuss matters of National Security and made important decisions on the topic without including even the local relevant ministers.
      Won’t you say that would be something worth discussing?

    • It is my belief that when you are voted as the head of an organisation, you do not BECOME the organisation. And I wish sporting administrators understood that.

    • I kind of disagree with you here, at the end the TTFA is a independent Body and if that decision was made in a constitutional way then it is ok. I do agree with you that a general one voice regional agreement should be looked for and anyone not doing that is rather stupid…. we are in the process of trying to achive a greater Easter Caribbean unity inn Triathlon, which somewhat proves difficult… but at the end: TTFA has no obligation to follow CFU it is very stupid not to, but ….

    • I agree with you totally on that… our Exec is what we call a “Flat Hierarchy” Majority vote only… and the Prez has no special rights except of a casting vote in case of a tie… and only then… she does not have two votes automatically…

    • Yes, I agree that the TTFA is not obligated to follow CFU. I just allowed the CFU president to explain why he thinks they should have consultation.
      And then I allowed the TTFA president to explain why he didn’t think it necessary.
      In this case, the Caribbean Football Union president was willing to field questions. The Trinidad and Tobago football president was not.

    • The CFU president made it clear that the TTFA president was only obligated to his own constituents. The hilarious irony is that, from all reports, it doesn’t seem that the TTFA president was obligated to anyone but himself.

    • Lasana i like your last comment… and i can subscribe to all of that, not sure what gave you the impression i was criticizing your actions anyways… i merely wanted to point out, that it will be difficult and not good, if admins can be fired by their constituents for any small (or not so small) reason…. while of course they have to have tools o control those people.. and i agree that he handles himself not good so far… unfortunately power corrupts very fast….

    • ..It is called the Caribbean Football UNION. Our little rocks in the sea are taken seriously and have influence ONLY when acting with CONSENSUS and in UNISON..

    • I do take your point Andreas and it is a good discussion. I also don’t agree that any body–be it sporting or otherwise–would benefit from it being too easy to remove a sitting leader. That would create instability.

    • jep… that was the point i tried to make…

    • And Gordon is always welcome to make his points. Nothing wrong with that.
      I know there will obviously be some people who say I focus too much on the negatives. Maybe plenty people.
      The TTFA is nearly bankrupt, we have lost our number one spot in the Caribbean, local football is struggling to be viable and there is an unease between players and administration…
      Anyone who isn’t seeing articles that speaks to some of those things should feel cheated I think. It’s just the reality.
      It is a hard job and administrators should expected to be probed. Not for us to just give them a free reign to do whatever they feel like and say: trust me.

    • I agree with you and being VP of TTTF and TTPC at the moment i have no issues with anyone looking at me or the people i work with there currently, cause those i agree with are above board and those that may not bet above board, it is well documented that i disagree with them… Unfortunately bad Admins do not just run down their own show (whereas it is the Athletes that ultimately will suffer from that) but also that of other sports which trying really hard to do the right thing but have trouble with the bad rep the others give to sport…. TTFA is a good leader in that, but believe me:: there are others right behind them in the chase pack….

    • I don’t consider flagrant disregard of the constitution to be a small issue though. If decisions are supposed to be made by the executive and the president is unilaterally making decisions, and on more than one occasion, then that has to be brought to a pause. You don’t put a stop to it early on and then you find all of a sudden you have a runaway horse that you can’t catch.

    • ..Yes. But our entire political culture and history are built on keeping quiet and allowing the Big Man to do his thing. That ain’t changing..

    • Yes Chabeth i said that earlier too… however the support he has pledged to Infantino by the TTFA in the public may have been a Board decision and as such not unconstitutional…. we wont know until the majority of the Board confirms this or that way, however not fielding questions or pointing out how this pledge came along doesn’t help his case. Trust me: I am a strong believer in Grassroot Democracy and think that Council/Members should have the utmost rights to determine the direction, but there also has to be some protection for those that are supposed to do the day to day business or there will be no one doing that…. the line between menace and warranted is a thin and fragile one. I’m working on two Constitutional reforms. And this is thee most discussed topic aside of disciplinary procedures, because…. both have serious legal implications, if screwed up….

    • I believe the story said that three board members said they weren’t consulted on this issue though…

    • well that indicated that there was no vote…. That is a NONO in our Exec, we will always discuss this and often give our Delegate, who goes to vote a mandate… sometimes we give the Delegate the discretion to decide at the congress for themselves as they see fit best for TTO… (and remind them: not yourself, your club… or so… entire TTTF…)

  20. Is there no provision within the TTFA constitution for dealing with errant/dictatorial/borderline illegal behaviour by board members? Especially the president? Because this sort of thing really needs to be nipped in the bud before a clear and firm precedent is established.

  21. ..One Man-ism is our political culture. The Big Man is in charge and the rest just get along..

  22. Reminds me of SWIMMING administration…..

  23. Lol. Oh lordie.
    Ok. Seriously… who voted for this guy again? Show your hand proudly because some of y’all were batting hard for this character before the election.
    At least we know he’s consistent in his complete and total lack of respect for others though. And there I was thinking it was only the Women’s senior team… silly me!

    • Sad thing is we don’t know the other candidates would do anything differently

    • Well football administration is really in a piss poor state in this country then. Idk…what happened when Tim Kee had to vote? He broke ranks with CFU prior to the final CFU meeting?
      But even sadder? After DJW seemingly took a unilateral decision to send the Women’s team to the Brazil tournament…meaning it seems to have been decided without a board meeting…the other members of his board apparently did nothing to the extent that he views them as so weak that he feels he can carry on making unilateral decisions. I hope the other board members at least kick a fuss about what now seems to be an emerging pattern of behaviour…
      This is disrespectful to the TTFA board and to the CFU… he’s cultivating enemies and he has been there less than three months… good grief!

    • Bull meets China shop on rerun..

    • Board members need to speak up as well.. too many willing to be rubber stamps or wish to speak off the record without a spine…

  24. Problem was Jack and the like used that influence primarily to fill their own pockets. And Caribbean football was an afterthought.

  25. ..At least under Jack the CFU was a united and formidable force. Now? The powers that be will just pick us off one by one.m

  26. As for DJW’s decision, I haven’t found a TTFA board member who can point to a meeting on the topic of the FIFA presidency. So it appears that our new president felt the vote belonged to him and the TTFA as an organisation.
    And not only did he make a private deal but a public vow of support too.

  27. That’s my thinking too. Although Champagne is pretty smooth and knows the ropes.
    For me, it might be which candidate I dislike the least. I’m really wary of a UEFA insider getting the job though.

  28. ..The TTFA vote is promised to Infantino who promises to deliver more of everything to the Caribbean at the same time that FIFA cuts funding to the Americas. Nice politics. Moreover, the TTFA promise is the decision of one man or an unofficial cabal? Moreover, the TTFA decision flies in the face of a CFU decision to meet and discuss the FIFA election? More nice politics. The Caribbean will “eat the bread the devil knead” from now on. So too the TTFA and its membership. This new TTFA administration just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?..

  29. Well Infantino has been offering to triple development cash to Caribbean FA’s – so its not surprising some of them like that idea. It looks like its him or Salman.

  30. Who do you see as favourite Simon?

  31. Ahh. Three from 25 then. I’m surprised that the Sheikh is so low profiled so far where CONCACAF is concerned.

  32. Barbados has also declared for Infantino btw.