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Is TTFA getting better or worse? CFA triumph, Look Loy’s delayed ascendancy and multiple financial queries

“[Wednesday] night was a massive defeat for the TTFA executive, which has provoked controversy for the last six months with its stance against the Central Football Association and the TTSL,” TTSL interim president Keith Look Loy told Wired868. “My take is it was a great victory for grassroots democracy in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Look Loy was in a bullish mode as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s EGMs ended with good news for the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) and Central Football Association (CFA) on Wednesday night at the National Cycling Velodrome in Balmain, Couva.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy (centre) talks to his players at halftime while then captain Jovan Rochford (right) has a drink of water during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action against Club Sando Moruga at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Whether the EGM represented a zero-sum game is open to debate though.

“I enjoy seeing people I know from around football—whether they are representing clubs or regional associations—having a chance to come and participate in decisions,” said one TTFA board member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I never saw that before. In the days of Jack Warner as special advisor that meeting would have been done in five minutes!”

Instead, yesterday’s EGMs—one tabled by the CFA and the other by the TTFA’s Board of Directors—lasted for more than four hours and the latter motion had to be adjourned.

When current TTFA president David John-Williams began his term in late 2015, the meetings quickly became poorly attended and generally meek affairs.

On Wednesday, 35 from 47 potential delegates turned out and John-Williams certainly did not have it all his own way.

“The meeting was a democratically successful meeting,” said former Trinidad and Tobago Referees Association head Osmond Downer—a man not known to be easily satisfied.

Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) makes a point to Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams after women’s international friendly action against Venezuela at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 26 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The first matter of business was the Board’s agenda, which included issues of: the compliance of members; appointments to the Judicial Bodies and Audit and Compliance Committee; and the acceptance of 2016 audit report.

The 18-month grace period allowed for members to become compliant with the new constitution expired on 12 January 2017. It meant, strictly speaking, several members of the football body could have been legal struck off. Instead, the membership decided to grant a further amnesty until 30 September 2017—by which time they must present the TTFA general secretariat with, among other things, “a copy of its audited financial statements for the previous financial year.”

The TTSL clubs, in particular, are believed to be trailing in this regard.

As John-Williams reeled off the list of proposed members for the Judicial and Audit and Compliance bodies, there was the first hint of dissent. Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFTT) president Selby Browne objected to the process of appointments.

“This is no way for this council to confirm any members to any board,” said Browne. “What I would have expected is a list circulated to all the delegates, giving names of all persons recommended and one paragraph on who they were, prior to any decision.”

Photo: VFFOTT president Selby Browne.

Article 36 (d) of the constitution says the Board of Directions “shall propose the members of the judicial bodies and the Audit and Compliance Committee to the General Meeting.”

And Article 23 gives the general membership the authority to elect or dismiss members of any standing committee “upon the proposal of the Board of Directors.”

Did the wording of the constitution suggest that the general membership was just a rubber stamp for this particular matter?

Browne resisted that notion and had support from the floor. So the BoD relented and agreed to present the proposed members as suggested at a later date.

It was probably wise since one right that the general membership certainly does have is the right to vote for the removal of any Board member including the TTFA president.

The Board’s attempt to have its financial audit approved similarly hit a wall.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from right) poses with Women’s National Senior Team coaches (from left) Nicola Williams, Carolina Morace and Elisabetta Bavagnoli at a press conference in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 1 February 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“The financial statements and auditor’s report were read out by an auditor,” said Downer. “There were no print outs available. One man read that this book was examined, etc but nothing was in front of members to look at. So it was decided that [the TTFA’s Audit Report] could not be considered.”

Once more, Browne led the challenge on the floor.

“We are quite grateful and thankful that you read it but this cannot be considered at this time,” said Browne, “because we have no Audit Report before us to accept. The board should have circulated report and that is what must be done.”

According to Article 27.3 of the constitution, the BoD was obliged to make all relevant financial documents available to members “at least 14 days before the date of the Annual General Meeting.”

There was no stipulation regarding financial documents for an EGM. But, once financial matters were up for discussion, surely the spirit of the constitution would suggest that the same protocol would follow.

Again, the Board bent to the will of its membership on the issue.

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino (right) bears gifts for Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona in a courtesy call at President’s House in St Ann’s on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Next up was the EGM requested by the CFA, which asked for:

  • Removal and replacement of CFA representative on the Board of the TTFA as requested by the CFA;
  • Change status of the Super League Clubs with the establishment of the TTSL;
  • The application of the TTSL for full membership of the TTFA or for the enjoyment of equivalent status as the TT Pro League as a recognised body to organise its own games and competitions;
  • Changes in the TTFA constitution consequent upon changes made in (3) above: (Article 10.1b and 22.1b) Change from National Super League Clubs to Trinidad and Tobago Super League Clubs; (Article 33) To include one member representing the Trinidad and Tobago Super League [on the TTFA board]; To change the board of directors [from] 13 to 14 members; Elections of the TTSL representative to the board of directors of the TTFA.

On paper, they seemed straightforward requests. But the CFA and TTSL wish-list had been frustrated for roughly six months in the latter body’s case and over a year for the former.

Remarkably, the BoD repeatedly resisted the CFA’s request to change its representative to the board, Samuel Saunders. Wednesday was D-Day.

Photo: Central Football Association (CFA) president Clynt Taylor.

Saunders, an attorney, initially refused to recuse himself from the meeting to decide his own fate and insisted he be allowed to address the general membership on the matter.

The members—again led by Browne—insisted Saunders leave immediately and without a word.

Eventually, John-Williams asked Saunders to listen to the people and recuse himself and the membership supported CFA who were allowed to immediately replace him with James Toussaint.

“I still don’t understand why Mr Saunders put himself through all that humiliation,” said CFA general secretary Clynt Taylor. “He attempted to make a pitch for him but when members found out he was there, they were very upset and asked him to recuse himself. He kept saying he want to talk and members kept insisting he had to go and were shouting back ‘we don’t want to hear you’.

“In the end, I felt bad for him.”

Downer suggested that the John-Williams-led Board had misinterpreted the rulebook in what should have been a simple matter.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) smiles with fourth official Cecile Hinds before the First Citizens Bank Cup final between Defence Force and Ma Pau Stars at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 2 December 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“I asked the question: Did the CFA change its representative to the board of the TTFA according to its constitution?” said Downer. “You see quite a few people were confusing the issue because [they were applying] the TTFA’s constitution. It is a very complicated thing for the TTFA to change a board member. But according to the CFA constitution, that decision can be made by a simple majority of its board and ratified by the general meeting…”

Once more, the membership spoke; and Saunders was out.

The TTSL’s proposals were swept through in similar fashion. All but one.

Once the fledgling body was formally recognised in the constitution and assured of a seat on the TTFA Board, the TTSL’s representatives recommended Look Loy—who was not on the island and absent from the meeting—be immediately installed as the local football body’s 14th Board member.

John-Williams objected on the grounds that Look Loy was recommended by an interim board, which ought to now give way to a formal body before it could make such a decisions. And, on this occasion, the TTFA president was successful.

Photo: TTSL interim president Keith Look Loy (left) and CFTL chairman Chris Anderson agree sponsorship for two cups for the 2017 TTSL season during a press conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2017.
(Courtesy Roneil Walcott/Wired868)

“Now that they are duly consisted, they can call general meeting and elect officers and members to the board,” said Downer, who described John-Williams’ point as valid. “So the meeting decided unanimously that the admission of their representative be postponed to the next extraordinary general meeting.”

Within 24 hours, Look Loy revealed that the TTSL had already set a date for their formal elections.

“We are in the process right now of calling an election for the ninth of August,” Look Loy told Wired868. “The interim board had asked for me to represent the TTSL but John-Williams argued that an interim board cannot take such a decision. So we said fine, we are going to have an election… We are in the process of alerting people right now.”

Look Loy described the EGM as a victory for the “grassroots” against the power-brokers.

“They argued against Saunders being removed [and] John-Williams lost the fight,” he said. “And they argued against the TTSL being given representation on the Board and the members pushed them back and won the day. It was a great day for football democracy and common sense prevailed.”

Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates with “Soca Warriors” fans after his double set up a 3-2 World Cup qualifying win over St Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Taylor offered a more downbeat verdict.

“It was a relief for the CFA that we can hopefully get someone who is willing to work with us [on the TTFA Board] but I find the whole process very sad,” said the CFA general secretary. “It was really anticlimactic. We could have put a lot of this effort into progressing football as opposed to moving one individual.

“The amount of animosity and effort spent fighting this was really sad.”

By all indications, the general membership is just getting started though. Before the end of the EGM, Browne presented a list of 42 questions on an array of issues to TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George and all the members present.

Among Browne’s queries were: Identify the accounts that have received monies from FIFA, UEFA, CONCACAF and CFU from December 2015 to date; list the signatories to the active accounts; list the source of funding, names and amounts for the TTFA Women’s Football Programme; explain the rationale behind the meeting the TTFA hosted at the Marriott, Port of Spain, in 2016 for CFU member association executives; and explain the TTFA’s claim of a rental or leasing fee for the Hasely Crawford Stadium in a statement to the courts of Trinidad and Tobago.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team midfielder Dernelle Mascall (left) gets a one year retainer contract from TTFA president David John-Williams.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

The last question related to an affidavit submitted in the local High Court on 2 May 2017 by attorney Dayadai Harripaul on behalf of the TTFA, which claimed that the football body had paid TT$944,021 in rent.

In truth, the football body moved to the Hasely Crawford Stadium under John-Williams’ predecessor, Raymond Tim Kee, for rent free lodging.

One TTFA insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the John-Williams-led body is now allegedly claiming that Harripaul’s affidavit was filed without the written  consent of any Board member.

It is a remarkable assertion that should make for an interesting exchange when the issue returns to the High Court on 26 July 2017.

Browne gave the TTFA one week to respond in writing on that issue and a few dozen more to boot. Neither John-Williams, Latapy-George or the Board have committed to that proposed timeline or even to provide the information in the first place.

John-Williams, according to one member, allegedly questioned whether Browne had the authority to make such demands of the Board. However, according to Article 12.1 (d), the TTFA’s members have the right “to be informed of the affairs of TTFA through the official bodies of TTFA.”

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino (right) and TTFA president David John-Williams at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“The meetings demonstrated a need for all members of the TTFA—including the members of the Board of Directors and officers—to properly familiarise themselves with the TTFA constitution,” said Browne. “In so doing, meetings will be far more productive and of the desired quality of an AGM or EGM…

“We demand answers to those questions [sent to Latapy-George] which will give a full picture of the administration of football and the TTFA from December 2015 to date.”

By all accounts, the TTFA’s meetings are getting livelier by the minute.

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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56 comments

  1. FIFA have to get both sides of the story . Not only one side.

  2. What goes around come around and it will .

  3. People are for their own gains in football yes.

  4. So tell me is it getting better?

  5. People in CFA board and we all knows nothing about them. Our disciplinary Chairman was found guilty of DUI and had to pay $5000.

  6. Jokers. God dont sleep . Karma is coming for them .

  7. TTFA Getting Worse . Especially CFA . Since CFA come into office what has they done to improve it?

  8. Democracies are not always the best or ‘fairest’ political systems. Understanding this reality, we have sat back and watch the march of history creeping dictatorships imposing pain and misery on many. A majority of very qualified and capable citizens choose to absent themselves from the front of political life to avoid the anguish and futility that these systems throw up in the end. Others relish in the nastiness. Seemingly live each day looking forward to the murkiness and usually they are the main source of such. While I read this article and am grateful for the detailed coverage of events I am sorry that hope is gone in what outcome I look forward to in the end.
    People may call this growing pains but it is the first or twelfth step to what end. People we have a finite life we make decisions as though we are in charge. The goal of TT football is also lost in the politics.
    In my own space I see Keith Lok Loy capable of making tremendous contribution to local football. I have been tremendously impressed with his passion and professionalism. That might count me as biased but in a country of 1.2 million we are limited for talent on as well as off the field. I was recently pleased with Skeenes presence in committee but that was quickly dashed with his sudden departure. It is happening in as well other institutions which are close to TT showcase to the world. We are familiar with the now gone quiet controversy in pan which will resurface shortly as carnival nears. So there is a distressing, debilitating problem of leadership in this country. Leaders who see trust and partnerships and stay focus on the goals and are held accountable by well constituted boards. They wallow in procedures and policies that throw up walls to the unfamiliar. Are we putting TT first at all or are we just building and protecting egos.
    Do we start these meetings with prayer? A prayer that seeks the inner conscience of honesty, trust and loyalty to country as tantamount.
    I’ll say like the old Bas(Panday), “wake me up when it is all over”…

  9. “One TTFA insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the John-Williams-led body is now allegedly claiming that Harripaul’s affidavit was filed without the written consent of any Board member.”

    How does this happen?

    • It’s b.s. Their lawyer doesn’t need their written consent for every filing.

    • Nigel, so you’re saying it is possible for lawyer to file something without authorisation? Sounds odd to me.

    • That’s not at all what I said. I said they don’t need written authorization “for every filing”. If you hire me to represent you we may discuss the overall aim of the representation, but how we get there is left to me to exercise my discretion to the best of my independent professional judgment. Including what to file and when. Not only that, but when representing a corporate client I can act on both actual and apparent authority. What do I mean? DJW possesses both in this case, so assuming he was consulted on this matter, there would be no legal or ethical requirement for the lawyer to get approval from the Board in writing before filing a submission with the court.

    • I’m amazed at even the suggestion that the lawyer got that rent figure from his own imagination. So I can’t wait to see this one play out.

    • Lasana that’s why I said it’s b.s., they trying to cover their asses after the fact with some “dog ate my homework” excuse.

  10. happy belated birthday Lasana Liburd

  11. Playing by the rules and conditions of the constitution “should” ensure accountability throughout the governing body. From top to bottom should then be judged on delivery and success. This mechanism should again reduce the “crabs in a barrel” mentality stalling the development of Football at all levels of T&T football. A step forward!

  12. Seem like Nigel is more contented with passive personalities. To each their own I guess.

  13. Nice, playing and abiding by rules and regulations…. that would be a nice change

  14. This is a great first step in the members of the TTFA bringing the David Jack Warner dictatorship to heel. I haven’t been the biggest fan of either Look Loy or Selby Browne in the past… worst still, of Downer, but they are leading the charge in holding this administration accountable.

  15. Hannibal Najjar

    6 million Frenchmen cannot be wrong!

  16. Transparency must be forced if not given and is forth coming willingly. Well done !!!

  17. Lasana I have a question. Many (if not all) of the members of the interim TTSL board hold operational/executive positions at their respective clubs. If these same people are re-elected once the formal elections are held, will they be asked to step aside from their club posts? To me, if they are not it creates the potential for a massive conflict of interest. In Keith’s case in particular, I don’t see how can be the president of a league and the the head coach/manager of a team that plys its trade in that same league.

    And don’t get me wrong, I think that Keith in particular has done a fantastic job and I am not trying to cast aspersions on any of the board members, but trying to get a better understanding as to how it will work, as to me, it’s the equivalent of having Richard Scudamore being the head coach for Bristol City. They might end up winning the PL !!!

    • Agreed Dominic to a point, however, what are your thoughts on the conflict of interest with TTFA executive?

    • Well, it depends on the separation between the board and the running of the league I think Dominic Lau.
      For instance, if the TTSL president is involved in selecting the head of the disciplinary committee (for example) then that person might be feel conflicted if he/she has to rule on a matter with FC Santa Rosa.
      The TT Pro League has always had an independent CEO and Chairman which helped although the board was made up of representatives from the clubs. So the board didn’t get involved with the logistics but handled big picture.
      I feel the TTSL board needs to look that to avoid future issues.

    • Camara Mackenson David, can you tell us a bit about how the TTSL plans to deal with the potential conflict of interest suggested by Dominic Lau?

    • As long as the CFA Constitution does not prohibit him to serve as CFA representative and club officer/director then there should be no issue. In theory there could be a conflict of interest, but in reality there should be none. If the TTFA BoD has to vote on a matter affecting FC Santa Rosa, then Look Loy would just have to recuse himself from the process. Simple.

    • And TTSL as well Nigel. Simple yes

    • So Nigel, hypothetically speaking you believe that even if the president of a league also holds the position of coach/manager because the constitution does not prohibit him from serving in a dual role, that he/she does not have the ability to have any influence over the decisions made by match officials on game day?

    • I’m quite sure that if you looked at my comment you wouldn’t see anything regarding “ability to influence.” Anyone, hypothetically can influence the situation. My comment states that there are mechanisms in place to avoid actual conflicts of interests from occurring.

    • Dominic, if I missed it, I apologize, however, i didn’t see similar views expressed regarding the TTFA leadership and DJW being head of both W Connection and TTFA. That seems to be more egregious a conflict in my opinion.

    • Nigel – Based on your comment I made an assumption that you believed that the constitution provides a strong safeguard against any conflicts which may occur as a result of a person operating in two roles which is what led to my question. I agree that anyone can hypothetically influence a situation, what I am asking is whether or not you believe that someone will potentially have a greater influence than a regular coach as a result of his other role.

    • Brian – Don’t start me on W Connection and DJW. 100% agreed. It is part of the reason that I asked the question. The reality is that I very much a fan of KLL and the TTS, but recognize that based on the current make up of the BoD and lack of an executive that there is the potential for conflicts to occur.

    • Of course there is a potential for conflicts to occur, and I’d have to dig up my copy of the constitution to see what provisions are actually in place, but I don’t believe there are any specific to this point. The bottom line is that as club executive for FC Santa Rosa Look Loy MAY be in position to influence decisions in their favor, but this is highly unlikely given how unlikely it is that the TTFA BoD would have to rule on an issue directly affecting Santa Rosa. More likely would it be that he’d have to rule on an issue affecting the TTSL, but recusal remains an option.

      All that being said, even if Look Loy were to resign his Santa Rosa position, that in of itself would not cure any potential conflicts. For instance… anyone knows which PL team was Scudamore’s boyhood team?

    • Yes … Bristol City. Lololol. But Scudamore was never their coach/manager.

    • But he’s in a position to influence outcomes in their favor… just as Look Loy would be were he to resign as coach of Santa Rosa. As I said… the potential for conflict would remain.

      As for the TTFA Constitution, I took a look and in addition to the actions of a Board Member being subject to the Companies Act of 1997, the following TTFA Constitution provisions apply:

      Article 17(1): Influence from 3rd parties
      Article 20(8): Influence from 3rd parties
      Article 20(9): Mandatory recusal if there is a “risk” or “possibility” of conflict.
      Article 62: Ethics Committee and their role in ensuring compliance with the TTFA Code of Ethics.

      So, clearly there are safeguards in place, it would be up to the members to ensure compliance.

    • Brian I would say there is more of a difference with DJW in so far as the TTFA has nothing to do with the day to day running of the Pro League.
      But then it comes into play when there are protests that go beyond Pro League or in staffing of national teams and so on.
      I think the TTSL would be advised to put systems in place to safeguard against potential conflicts of interest.
      And I’d like it to be more than just recusing yourself.
      For me, it is better to have the daily operations of the competition not fall under the board’s remit. I don’t know what the TTSL constitution says.

    • I have concerns beyond league man. Football on a macro level is not on sound footing. FIFA funds to be divvied up, national team selection, national coaching staff appointments, etc. Every decision frought with conflict issues

    • The TTFA has no more say in running the Pro League than it does in the running of the TTSL.

    • I agree Nigel. But I don’t think that is the concern Lau expressed so I was just speaking to that specifically.

    • Disagree guys. DJW by virtue of club ownership is a board member of Pro league with influence. He has “weight” there which he may not have at TTSL.

  18. The TTFA has never been big on transparency. As a result, trust is an issue. But at least they had a meeting that people knew about.

  19. Really Chabeth Haynes. Pray tell who that is.

  20. Ppl setting themselves up for a TTFA presidential run when the opportunity arises…