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We don’t need the TTFA board! DJW and Salazar lift the lid in explosive I95.5 interview

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and vice-president Joanne Salazar said yesterday that they, along with vice-president Ewing Davis, acted on more than one occasion without approval from the TTFA’s board of directors and sought to justify their doing so in a radio interview on I95.5FM.

John-Williams was the driving force behind the interview as—in a departure from his usual low-keyed approached—he asked talk show host Andre Baptiste to invite myself, as Wired868 director, to debate Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and TTFA issues.

Photo: TTFA president and W Connection founder David John-Williams.
Photo: TTFA president and W Connection founder David John-Williams.

The TTFA president, who was frequently interrupted by Salazar, attempted to debunk statements from CFU president Gordon Derrick in two Wired868 articles, including one in which he accused John-Williams of breaking ranks to pledge early support to current FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

John-Williams claimed that as many as six from 31 CFU nations also voiced approval for one FIFA candidate or the other around the same time and accused Derrick and Wired868 of bias in the way the information was presented.

However, things got heated fairly early when I asked why John-Williams endorsed Infantino without discussing the matter with the TTFA board first.

Did John-Williams feel that the TTFA’s vote belonged to him alone to do as he liked? And that he had the authority to make decisions for the local football body without consulting his board as mandated by the constitution?

John-Williams claimed that it was a personal endorsement of Infantino and not a TTFA one.

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

I pointed out that his endorsement on 27 January 2016—that was relayed to the public on a TTFA release, and shared on the local football body’s website and media channels—opened with a shot of the TTFA logo and introduced him as “TTFA president.”

How could John-Williams then claim that he was not acting on behalf of the TTFA?

Salazar interjected to say that the TTFA board of directors subsequently “ratified” John-Williams’ decision.

So was the TTFA board, I asked, being used as a rubber stamp for the wishes of the current president?

Salazar, who is a vice-president at Phoenix Park Gas, retorted that John-Williams’ executive committee, which included herself and fellow vice-presidents Ewing Davis and Allan Warner, had the power to make decisions without waiting on the board so as to avoid unnecessary delays.

I pointed out that it would have been another month before the 28 February 2016 FIFA elections and plenty of time for John-Williams to discuss Infantino’s bid with his board and try to persuade them to support his choice.

But, more importantly, the Wired868 editor told Salazar that she was absolutely incorrect since the TTFA constitution does not recognise an executive committee of president and vice-presidents and gives it no special authority whatsoever.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president Joanne Salazar (right) at a press conference in May 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president Joanne Salazar (right) sits alongside TTFA employee Michelle Lynch at a joint Shanghai Group of Companies/TTFA press conference in May 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

I directed Salazar to several excerpts in the TTFA constitution including Article 20.2: “The board of directors is the executive body.”

I asked her to find a single line in the constitution to support her statement and noted that the term “executive committee” no longer existed in local football’s guiding document as the only authoritative body was the board of directors.

Salazar did not use the constitution to defend her stance but insisted that there were “gaps” that John-Williams and his vice-presidents hoped to address by altering the FIFA-approved document.

The current constitution was ratified in July 2015, after an almost two year process.

Baptiste suggested that John-Williams and his vice-presidents could create a sub-committee, with the board’s approval, to effectively circumvent the constitutional strength of the board of directors.

However, the constitution has safeguards in place specifically to prevent a cabal seizing control of the board.

Article 20.3 says: “Standing and ad-hoc committees shall advise and assist the board of directors in fulfilling its duties.” What it did not say was that any ad-hoc committee could make decisions without board approval.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (right) presents a Wired868 token of appreciation to "Soca Warriors" supporter Peter Cumberbatch during the 4th Annual Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC Grounds, St Augustine on Saturday 2 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (right) presents a Wired868 token of appreciation to “Soca Warriors” supporter Peter Cumberbatch during the 4th Annual Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC Grounds, St Augustine on Saturday 2 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

The current TTFA board of directors comprises: David John-Williams (president), Joanne Salazar, Ewing Davis and Allan Warner (vice-presidents),Samuel Saunders (Central FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Dexter Skeene (TT Pro League) and Sharon O’Brien (Women’s League Football).

John-Williams and Salazar’s belief that they could make decisions without board approval was, arguably, the central sticking point of the 90 minute show.

I noted that when John-Williams hosted 17 CFU members for his Caribbean Professional Football League (CPFL) pitch—he had invited all 31 members—at the Marriott Hotel in Port of Spain on 17 and 18 June, the invoices went to the TTFA. CONCACAF and UEFA promised to help with the bills but it is uncertain whether they will cover the costs entirely or if they both paid at all.

The CPFL meeting—and, according to Derrick, it is unprecedented for a member nation to host delegates from the entire Caribbean, except through the CFU—was held exactly one week before John-Williams put forward his nomination for Caribbean football president.

John-Williams claimed the meeting and his subsequent bid for presidency were unrelated.

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)

Regardless, I asked how John-Williams could have the TTFA pick up the tab for the meeting without informing—let alone receiving approval—from his board of directors.

The football president pointed to an agenda for a board meeting, which was emailed on 13 June, and had Caribbean Football Union/UEFA/CONCACAF as line items. But the subsequent board meeting was cancelled, so members were never informed.

I retorted that John-Williams sent out invitations to the CFU officials on June 3. Arguably, the football president’s possible intention to inform his TTFA colleagues—almost two weeks after inviting Caribbean delegates and using local football money to book rooms, purchase airline tickets and hire translators and sound equipment—was another example of him using the board of directors as a rubber stamp, after the fact.

According to Article 36 (p), the board of directors “shall have the power to mortgage, pledge or otherwise create a security over any property of the TTFA, provided that: the security has been concluded in order to satisfy an urgent contractual obligation of the TTFA; the security does not surpass the amount of $1,000,000 (TTD).”

To date, the TTFA board of directors has not been informed as to the cost of the Caribbean meeting, which was not a contractual obligation of the local football body.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president and ex-SSFL president Ewing Davis does match commissioner duties during 2015/16 CNG National Super League Premiership Division action at the Matura Recreation Ground. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president and ex-SSFL president Ewing Davis does match commissioner duties during 2015/16 CNG National Super League Premiership Division action at the Matura Recreation Ground.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

And, more to the point, John-Williams and Salazar acted outside of the constitution by using TTFA funds, without board approval, to pay for services provided at that meeting.

Salazar claimed that it was normal business practice.

Could a bank manager, I asked, take money out of the company’s account to pay for his own swimming pool merely because he felt he had the capacity to repay?

Among other issues that came up was the: TTFA’s decision to send John-Williams’ daughter and W Connection chairperson, Renee John-Williams, to a FIFA TMS (Transfer Matching System) workshop in Costa Rica last month, hiring of W Connection Under-16 coach, Brian Williams, as Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach, and the football body’s intention to put all national coaching and managerial jobs—with the exception of Soca Warriors head coach Stephen Hart—up for tender.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Brian Williams. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Brian Williams.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

John-Williams claimed that CONCACAF personally asked for his daughter to attend its workshop last month and insisted there was no conflict of interest.

I asked why would the football confederation want a solitary club—and the daughter of the football association member—to attend a meeting meant to explain its transfer system to Trinidad and Tobago? Would it not be more beneficial if a Pro League administrator attended so the information could be subsequently relayed to all 10 top flight clubs?

In fact, Wired868 was reliably informed that Renee John-Williams was recommended for the TMS workshop by a TTFA board member. And neither the TTFA president nor vice-president could provide proof that the invitation came from CONCACAF, or explain why the TTFA press release, last month, only acknowledged that employee Sharon O’Brien attended the conference and failed to mention Renee’s involvement.

John-Williams claimed too that the appointment of Williams (B) was on the recommendation of technical director Muhammad Isa, due to the body’s inability to pay another coach.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (far right) holds court with (from left) TTFA interim general secretary Azaad Khan, president David John-Williams, technical committee member Muhammad Isa and TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis in December 2015. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (far right) holds court with (from left) TTFA interim general secretary Azaad Khan, president David John-Williams, technical committee member Muhammad Isa and TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis in December 2015.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

I asked why was the TTFA technical committee received a shortlist of one person. John-Williams said it was the choice of his technical director, Isa.

However, at the time of Williams’ selection, Isa had not yet been appointed as technical director. Isa became interim technical director a month later.

And, as with Williams, Isa was the only name on the shortlist when the TTFA board of directors was asked to select a technical director after the controversial dismissal of Kendall Walkes.

John-Williams is yet to supply the TTFA board of directors with the legal advice used to fire Walkes although, according to the constitution, only the board could hire or dismiss the technical director.

John-Williams and Salazar confirmed that all coaches and managers must re-apply for their current positions, even in cases where they had letters of appointment. It could mean that Hart can have his technical staff altered against his wishes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other's company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other’s company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

The TTFA president and vice-president refused to give a timeline for when they would act.

Already accused of personally interfering with national teams and the selection of coaches, John-Williams’ intention to oversee a complete revamping of all positions—if allowed by the board of directors—could arguably see him mould the staff of every national squad to his whims.

The TTFA president also accused me of bias and failing to give sufficient time for him to respond to questions. But, arguably, he could not point to any errors of fact on the website.

I95.5FM has promised to make the full audio recording of the interview available to Wired868 and it will be posted online in the near future.

Photo: Guaya United co-coach Akeno Morgan (left) talks about the CNG 2015 National Super League KO final with Wired868 director Lasana Liburd. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Guaya United co-coach Akeno Morgan (left) talks about the CNG 2015 National Super League KO final with Wired868 director Lasana Liburd.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: Click HERE for the full audio of the I95.5 interview.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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128 comments

  1. I’m not sure which question I didn’t answer. I responded to all your questions. But no probs. 😉

  2. You have not answered my response and I know Richard Quan Chan, I will speak with him, he is an honest person.

  3. I did not agree to any comments made but what I listened to on the radio. So if the board is not divided they why can’t they agree or compromise on decisions to be made with the interest of the team n mind. We are fighting to much and at the end of the day when decisions are made and the team does well everyone takes the tap on there back and forget that they were an adversary

    • Judith, what happened is that the president and vice-president are simply doing things without informing the board.
      There can’t be disagreement if two parties don’t even discuss it.
      One side is acting on its own and thinks it can do as it pleases. There is no disagreement.

  4. Fortunately or unfortunately i heard the interview and it was rather interesting. I sympathized with the President and Ms. Salazar because I honestly don’t think there was malice aforethought in some of the decisions taken. However, This is a fantastic opportunity to do a proper analysis of the systems and methodologies of the operations of the TTFA. The effectiveness and or success of Mr. Williams is probably in need of some retooling since there is a bigger public to answer to. Your methods and sometimes timely decisions, unfortunately, cannot be used in the same manner as you would in your other business dealings. So….as much as it pained me to hear Lasana ripping you a new one, he was absolutely correct. I have a feeling though the drive and spirit you have or the way you do things is a problem and I will like to advise you that changing parts of the constitutions will never fix an innate culture of laid -backness, wait and see and shoo shooing, Whatever you so sir, please do the right thing so that a legacy can be left and emulated in the future.

  5. Jack Warner all over again…

  6. How could we support this man…T&T have you lost your minds..DJW must not be allowed to run TTFA as his personal club!!!

  7. That is not what was said. The content is wrong, what I listened to and what was said is the the board is divided and in the interest of progress and as TTFA president sometimes decisions have to be made to achieve urgent decisions in the interest of the team. Wired868 also agreed that there was a misunderstanding of what they had written about the president.

    • I was a bit tired and in traffic but I think I heard what you are saying bubbling through the conversation

    • Judith, I’m not sure what you think Wired868 agreed to. Or about any misunderstanding. The board is not divided by anyone but the president and vice-president.
      The president and vice-president(s) have decided that they are more important than other board members. And they make decisions without consulting or informing the others. Simple.
      And that is illegal according to the constitution.

  8. always bacchanal. when will we get it right in t&t

  9. Seems like something wrong with that TTFA president chair …….. all ah them does catch the same disease when dey sit on it ……… smfh …….. sports administration is such a joke on this place

  10. In the same way that management makes certain decisions without having to go to the board of directors in a company

  11. Come on man, that statement about PNM is beside the point. John-Williams and company are repeating the errors of their predecessors and selling us truck loads of bull shit to back it up. Unless something is done our football is going to pay a heavy price.

  12. I think SPORTT would only intervene if there is any indication or evidence of state funding being used for this.

  13. Adjust the constitution to suit who? Them or national football?? Me and those silly questions again!!!

    • Why weren’t these “gaps” in the constitution pointed out before the constitution was ratified? Were stakeholders not given a chance to review ahead of time? Sounds nebulous.

  14. What is Sport TT view on all this crap or the ministry for that matter? Shouldn’t this also be reported to other members of the CFU and COCACAF?

  15. Good news is we know about the fat pile of lard now …. so we know ge has to go rather than be stuck down the road.

  16. The firing of Kendal walkes was it done in a similar fashion we have the beginning of a dictatorship maximum ruler ruling by decree, the constitution is null and void,it is not worth the paper it is written on.

  17. Wot do you expect pnm pnm pnm pnm

  18. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Joanne Salazar was referring to something that didn’t even exist in the TTFA constitution. And SHE is supposed to be the brains of the operation! :-/

  19. Sounds like they all don’t know their own constitution as well as they should. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the board is so ineffective??