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Ciao Carolina! T&T women’s programme in jeopardy as Italian walks after three months without pay

The Italian renaissance of the Trinidad and Tobago National Women’s Team programme appears to be over—after just under six months—as the much vaunted head coach Carolina Morace officially informed the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) on Friday that she has had enough.

Morace, a former Italy player and Canada World Cup coach, was tightlipped about her sudden departure from the Women Soca Warriors post and a deal that was due to run until the France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

But she did make one thing clear: it was not a resignation. Not exactly.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Carolina Morace (centre) shouts instructions to her team during international friendly action against Venezuela at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 26 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“The right terminology is,” Morace told Wired868, “the contract [is] terminated for just cause.”

Morace holds a law degree and the wording leaves little room for misinterpretation. The Italian football coach, whose signing was hailed as a coup for the David John-Williams-led TTFA, is likely to now take the football body to court—and the cost could be substantial.

Although John-Williams never confirmed the value of the TTFA’s contract to Morace and her assistants Nicola Williams, Elisabetta Bavagnoli and Manuela Tesse, it was rumoured to cost US$24,000 per month. If that figure is correct, then the local football body could owe its Italian coaches TT$4.3 million (US$648,000) for the duration of their contracts.

Worse, the TTFA would have to find money to hire new coaches for the Women’s National Senior, Under-20 and Under-17 Teams while still paying bumper wages to the departed Italians. And, if ex-women’s coach Even Pellerud is any gauge, the consequences for the local football body, if they default on the payment, could be dire—as FIFA had threatened to suspend Trinidad and Tobago from international football until its former Norwegian coach was paid.

In the short term, the local FA, which hosts the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Trinidad from 18 January 2018, need a coach to prepare its team.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team coach Carolina Morace (left) shares a light moment with forward Laurelle Theodore after their international friendly encounter with Venezuela at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 26 March 2017.
Theodore missed a late opportunity as the two nations played to a goalless draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Wired868 understands that local National Under-20 Team assistant coach Desiree Sarjeant, a former international player and ex-St Augustine Secondary coach, is expected to step in and coach the youth and senior team on Monday in a combined session.

However, it is uncertain how the TTFA will remedy the situation in the long term.

The exodus of Italian coaches started at least two months ago when Under-17 coach Manuela Tessa told local staff that she would not return—supposedly because the local football body had not provided the level of preparation promised to her squad.

By then, ex-Italy international Elisabetta Bavagnoli, who was supposed to assist all three teams, was already conspicuous by her absence.

John-Williams declined comment on the whereabouts of Tessa and Bavagnoli and, so far, his general secretary Justin Latapy-George has also held his tongue on the recent departures of Morace and the Under-20 head coach Nicola Williams, who was born in England but lives in Australia.

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)

Morace has not offered an explanation for her departure just yet. However, Wired868 understands that the issue is part-financial and part-administrative.

The TTFA has allegedly not paid its foreign coaches in three months—but even that is not a straightforward matter.

In March, John-Williams told the media that the women’s programme would be funded by a CONCACAF subvention.

“I’m happy to say that the CONCACAF programme is going to finance the women’s programme,” said the TTFA president. “Don’t get the misconception that we’re contracting coaches and we can’t pay them—we have specific allocations. So therefore the $125,000 US that we get a year from CONCACAF is going to go into the women’s programme.”

The problem, allegedly, lay in how the TTFA hoped to pay Morace and her assistants. Wired868 understands that John-Williams asked CONCACAF for an advance on its subvention to the local football body to meet financial obligations to his women’s staff and players.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Dernelle Mascall (centre) drives towards the Venezuela goal during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 29 March 2017.
Venezuela won 3-1.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The confederation, according to informed sources, agreed to wire money directly to the respective accounts of the employees rather than write a cheque to the TTFA, which would have allowed the football body to service its own debts.

CONCACAF’s wariness in handing over money to the TTFA is believed to be a throwback to the creative accounting and controversial use of football funding by former local football presidents.

So, CONCACAF was supposedly happy to pay Morace and her staff. But the Italian allegedly refused to sign the document to receive the money, based on legal advice about the potential tax implications.

Morace’s Trinidad counterparts found her exceedingly fussy.

“If the money is there for you,” they asked, “then why not just take it?”

However, the Italian was not willing to take chances with her accounting books. Could Morace explain to the Italy taxman why there were huge deposits in her bank account from CONCACAF when her job contract was with the TTFA?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Carolina Morace (right) and captain Tasha St Louis warm up before kick off against Venezuela in international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 29 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

She was, according to a source, wary of the potential complications. But this did not mean Morace was unwilling to consider other avenues to settle the matter.

Wired868 was informed that the Italian tried repeatedly to find a solution with John-Williams and was allegedly frustrated by the football president’s perceived indifference to her phone calls or tardiness in responding to emails.

One possible option was that Morace would approach the corporate sector, as she had done in Canada, to raise money for the programme. It is uncertain whether she ever got the chance to broach such suggestions to the football president.

It was not, according to a source, that Morace felt John-Williams did not care whether she and her staff were paid or not. But she was concerned that the football president might be incapable—whether due to stubbornness or incompetence—of finding the required formula.

Wired868 has tried, so far without success, to ascertain whether the TTFA has an active marketing or finance committee at present and who is on either committee. Latapy-George has promised to prove the information at a later, unspecified date.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team captain Tasha St Louis (centre) signs a one year monthly retainer contract alongside TTFA president David John-Williams (right) and head coach Carolina Morace on 27 March 2017.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

Morace’s own hard-nosed approach to her job is infamous. In Canada, players moaned that the Italian supposedly refused to make allowances for student/athletes, scorned their style of play and even banned peanut butter from their diets.

In Trinidad, veteran winger Ahkeela Mollon stopped attending sessions after she felt the coach mocked her request to leave evening sessions before the ice baths—and do them at home instead—so as not to tempt fate by driving into her crime-ridden Longdenville neighbourhood too late.

There were fall outs too with former captain Maylee Attin-Johnson, star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and equipment manager Steve “Pokeyman” Fredericks; although, to her credit, there were also good reviews from senior players like Mariah Shade and observers from within the football fraternity. And Morace insisted she had excellent working relations with the bulk of her squad.

One memorable story lingers of a cancelled screening in Tobago, which is used to typify Morace’s refusal to compromise her standards—even for the sake of her new employers.

Morace, according to an eye witness, arrived for the training session in the “Sister Isle” only to discover that the groundsman was still in the process of marking the field, despite at least a week’s notice of the event.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team head coach Carolina Morace (left) offers advice to attacker Shenelle Henry during international friendly action against Venezuela at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 29 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

There were over a dozen eager young players waiting to show their stuff to the Italian. But, without a word, Morace and her assistant allegedly turned around and headed straight to the ANR Robinson International Airport for a flight back to Trinidad.

Morace is eyeing the departure lounge once again. And it is likely to mean a huge bill for the TTFA, which is already facing legal action and/or struggling to pay former employees like Russell Latapy, Anton Corneal, Kendall Walkes, Stephen Hart, Ramesh Ramdhan and Sheldon Phillips.

“The Italians had brought a vast improvement to the women’s game with the programme they put in place,” one football insider told Wired868, on condition of anonymity. “This has nothing to do with the fact that they were foreign. They just have more knowledge than us and you could see it. And they were bringing it to the programme.

“Everyone was talking about how well the under-20s were doing, for instance, because [Nicola Williams] is a teacher and she was very good at getting ideas across.”

The Trinidad and Tobago women’s programme looks like it will now have to do without their services on the field of play—although the TTFA could still end up footing the bill for their expertise.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team coach Carolina Morace (centre) makes a point to Lauryn Hutchinson (far left) and her teammates during international friendly action against Venezuela on 26 March 2017.
The two nations played to a goalless draw at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Looking on (second from right) is assistant coach Nicola Williams.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

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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209 comments

  1. And as usual David John Williams still has his job. Like Dave Cameron.

    • Thanks for sharing that blog post. I could engage and critique it, as a former track athlete in the US to college and clubs. For professional athletes, just like employees to bosses, you don’t get to have a problem with an asshole boss, do the job or get out. Do the job or find another. Do the job or leave the field.
      I see a lot of excuses and finessing “our culture, dynamics and conditions” in that piece.

      Morace not here for that

      And lasana knows I believe there should be a bugffer between people like miracle and the players.

      The proper is not to erode standards down to tobago, but to convey to the players how they accustomed at “sheet”

      Nuance is needed here
      But whatever. Spilled milk

      Thanks for an additional perspective

  2. I gave up gambling hard Lasana Liburd but I’d have to have to go with the latter… history nah…

  3. The funny thing is that DJW and crew clearly tried to give Carolina everything they could to make her happy and then to stay out of her way.
    Clearly they failed. So the question is: Is Carolina almost impossible to satisfy? Or is the DJW administration too incompetent to get it right, despite their best efforts to do so?
    Dennis Lawrence better hope it is the first one and not the second. Lol.

    • A combination of both…she is bailing out early. .can’t work with sheet anymore

    • If this was a male international coach, would we ever pose such a question? “Impossible to satisfy?”

      If there was not such a thing as misogyny even when unstated? That even women would chime.

      Hm

      And to pose such a question in the space, presence and context of djw, is quite astounding.. Lol. Even in the space of a dragon, a woman will be found dysfunctional still.

      This is rich.

  4. Scotty Ranking

    So I Have a legitimate follow up question on this … have Dennis Lawrence and Sol Campbell et al been paid for their duties to the national team so far? Would hate to know that they will be the next ones warming the TTFA departure lounge to board the SS Acrimonious Exit With Cause.

  5. Lasana Liburd, you expected anything different from this President? I knew it would fail from the get go. He does even have a proper financial system in place, you think it would Survive? He does not know even how to market stuff. SO why are we surprised? DJW is failure from the start.

  6. All I have to say it is DAVID JOHN WILLIAMS is a coniving snake in the grass …

  7. Kendall, what did you make of the supposed tax implications if Carolina had accepted payment from CONCACAF?

  8. In fairness to the TTFA, if the situation is as presented then there really isn’t much fault on their part, and it would seem that it is Morace who has breached the contract. The tax excuse is somewhat dubious, as is the “just cause” reasoning. Further the TTFA likely won’t be on the hook for the full balance on her contract either.

    • So you say Carolina would be obliged to accept payment from whatever source the TTFA said would pay her?

    • Lasana Liburd That’s simply a procedural matter and her arguments are bogus. What would she have done if she received corporate sponsorship and they wanted to pay her directly because of the trust factor with the TTFA. She would have walked away. What does she care which organization is paying her when like I said earlier a simple letter explaining the procedure would have sufficed for the taxman. Mussolini is dead.

    • Gerard, that is Kendall’s line of work and he said it could have been an issue. I don’t know what the document said that CONCACAF asked her to sign either. Perhaps the wording would be relevant.
      I remember Beenhakker having issues like that and putting his foot down too. So I don’t know if it is so simple.
      Maybe she took the easy way out. But her concerns could still be valid.

    • Lest not forget the tax issues affecting so many European players and coaches at present. Capello was one who had problems too.
      If she preferred to err on the side of caution as a result, I can’t blame her.

    • Ir shouldn’t matter where they source the funds from. She has a right to feel uncomfortable with the arrangement, but that has no bearing on the contract itself. If she takes the TTFA to court on just that point she will not win. Even if there is language which is very specific and detailed as to how the transit of funds is to flow, such a technical deviation from the language of the agreement likely won’t be considered a material breach. As long as she’s getting paid her money (and the TTFA’s explanation would be more than reasonable as to CONCACAF’s dictates… they control the purse strings) then the FA would have fulfilled its obligations.

      On the tax question, any “taxman” is only concerned with whether you pay taxes on your income. So what if the payment isn’t from the TTFA? People are allowed to have multiple jobs and multiple sources of revenue. As long as they pay their taxes then all is well. Now if the concern is money laundering, then that would be a different matter.

    • Erring on the side of caution does establish a legal right to walk away from an otherwise valid contract. Not that I’m not sympathetic to her situation, but her remedy is far more draconian than the ailment.

    • CONCACAF doesn’t control the TTFA’s purse strings or vice versa. And neither is obliged to look after the other’s debts. So I don’t see why CONCACAF would have any bearing on a lawsuit between the TTFA and its employee. But time will tell of course.
      Granted I know your background is legal and mine is not. We will see.
      If the TTFA cannot prove that it paid Carolina and its only defence is we asked CONCACAF to pay for us… Well, that would be interesting.

    • As regards having multiple jobs, I’m sure that isn’t a problem. But what service is Carolina providing to CONCACAF that can justify her receiving substantial payments from them?
      It isn’t another job at all. So it’s tricky and maybe problematic.
      It is worth noting that Carolina has a law degree too and she also was in contact with lawyers on the matter. I’m sure I’m right in assuming that she put some thought into this decision.

    • The TTFA is reliant on funding from external sources, name the regional and international governing bodies. The organization isn’t viable on its own. Any funding is dependent on those two bodies. They don’t control the TTFA’s purse strings (in terms of how the FA spends its money) but they control their revenue. If the TTFA has to turn to them to satisfy an obligation no court would say “no, you have to pay it yourself.” If CONCACAF then says we must pay it directly then that would likely not be deemed unreasonable or burdensome.

      Lasana, the payment doesn’t have to be for services rendered, it could be a gift from CONCACAF for all that matters. As long as it’s not illegal and she pays her taxes then there should be no penalty to her.

    • If she was consulting her lawyers, it’s unlikely that she is taking risks.

      Nigel – it isn’t so simple particularly where tax structures are concerned. How and where the funds are paid are extremely important.

    • The TTFA isn’t reliant on CONCACAF. It chooses to be. If DJW and company aren’t bothered to woo the private sector or are incapable of doing so and if they don’t know how to use gate receipts and so on, then that is their problem yes.
      If CONCACAF isn’t on Carolina’s contract, I just don’t see how they can force her to involve them at this stage.

    • Important for tax purposes I’m sure Kendall, but not for purposes of the contract . That would be insufficient reason to breach a contract. And Lasana its more than the fact that my “background” is legal, contract litigation forms a significant part of my practice, it’s what I do every day. You don’t have to “see” how CONCACAF can be involved, but it would be no different than if the TTFA was forced to take a loan from a bank and the bank was the entity insisting that it write the check to her itself. Could she walk away under those circumstances? Unlikely.

    • I always tell me clients NEVER go outside the terms and agreements on which a tax structure is based as it relates to the flow of money. To do so invalidates the structure and will land you in trouble that you won’t be able to easily extract yourself from.

    • Nigel – If the contract stipulates to pay company Y in jurisdiction X, a direct payment to the individual isn’t acceptable.

    • The TTFA is free to offer. No problem. But whether Carolina is obliged to accept a new arrangement, that is the issue Nigel… Sure the TTFA might have a case. Everyone has a case. Whether it is a winnable case is another matter.
      The TTFA promised to pay her salary and didn’t.
      I look forward to see how this plays out but we both know the TTFA doesn’t have a good track record with such matters.

    • For starters we don’t know if the language of the contract was that particular. Even if it were, she would be receiving payment in the same jurisdiction as if the TTFA paid her… TnT, or whatever bank she designated as holding the depository account. It doesn’t seem as though CONCACAF insisted that they send payment anywhere other than to “company Y” in this case Kendall.

      Lasana the TTFA didn’t pay her only because she refused payment. But you don’t have to take my word for it. For me the issue is clear but I know the layperson will always find a different angle to argue because of unfamiliarity with or an unwillingness to accept the legal principles.

    • Nigel she never refused payment from TTFA but from CONCACAF. And Kendall, the contract between the TTFA and Carolina specifically mentioned taxes. Or at least I have been informed as such from good sources.
      So I’d to say that Carolina demonstrated from even before her first day on the job that she is very particular about such matters.

    • You do have much more legal knowledge Nigel. Loads more. But neither of us have seen the actual contract. So there is a speculation on all sides. We still have to remember that.
      Obviously Carolina, who also has a law degree, felt confident about her position. And we will see if she was right eventually. Kendall made some points which are very informative for me.

    • If the Concacaf subvention was 125K a year, and that is what TTFA said eould be used to fund and pay staff, then there is definite shortfall of funds… maybe that is also reason for not signing…. based on figure of 24k per month, concacaf subvention was only good for 5 months……

    • Lasana that is what we call a “distinction without a difference.” And again even if the FA deviated from the language of the agreement with regards to the flow of payment, such a deviation likely would not be deemed a material breach.

      And I agree with you, none of us know what’s in the contract and we’re both speculating. This is why I began my comments by saying “if the situation is as presented…”

    • And they have to pay players’ stipends too Che. Then there are equipment costs, hotel, etc…

    • Nigel S. Scott… The legitimacy of earnings comes into question. The taxman is not only concerned with revenue collection

    • Kirwin Weston… already contemplated above “as long as the payment is not illegal” and doesn’t involve “money laundering.”

    • Thoroughly invigorating read gentlemen.

  9. Who has been paid, Dennis, Sol or is it just the brown nose contingent

  10. If the explanation about taxes is true, it’s a rather lame excuse. A simple letter from CONCACAF explaining the procedure by which she was paid would have sufficed. Something is rotten in Denmark…okay Italy.

  11. Rumor has it Fevrier, Shabazz and Isa, god bless him, have all been paid up to speed?
    Priorities all wrong

  12. I think they just need to shut down TTFA, evaluate the football climate both locally ad internationally and get some competent people to run this venture

  13. is bout damn time… they always “oweing”..Latapy still owed money from his time as gead coach… they still probably eh pay Hart… goood…sue dey tale

  14. dennis lawrence stepping just now too

  15. White people
    Not used to “eat ah food” logic

  16. david j williams u is an ass just like dave cameron. football and cricket in a mess becuz of fools like u.

  17. Isn’t DJW embarrassed? I suspect he is so arrogant he is beyond embarrassment. If you can’t afford to pay coaches and have a clear way in which to do so, why hire them? Look for far cheaper options.. it’s absolutely farcical and I just don’t know when we will see the day when the TTFA would look like a professional, well run organisation..

  18. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

  19. Kills two birds with one stone. Morale was an emotional appointment. Not holistically thought out. She was always in a win win situation be used of the contract she negotiated. She played them well. She has obviously realized she will be seen as a failure as a coach because of her style which isolated her from our best talent and the TTFA petty politics combined. Nice time to pull out and take what she was always going to get by hook or crook. It has crashed.

  20. How come coaches and players always have this problem?

  21. We could spoil rotten grapes #blighted

  22. It’s not just football coaches who go through this. There are coaches from other sports who agree to contract terms and the Administrations follow through for the first couple of months and then the money, as little as it is… stops. Then you are on your own but you can’t disappoint the athletes so you soldier on.
    Sorts Administrations in Trinidad has reached a level of complacency bordering on unlawful agreements. Sports cannot advance with the prevailing attitude. Coaches are hesitant to make any agreements with Sporting bodies.

  23. I don’t have all the answers eh—but it don’t take blood magic from Asshai to predict these outcomes.
    TTFA has, arguably, the top sports franchise in the world and at the Hex level, we’re playing at the highest level of the most marketable sport in the region. Where’s the money? Was Jack so visionary? Was the system so rigged in his Favour that no one can repeat his steps? DJW’s cred as a business magnate was sketchy to begin with. His management of his own TTPro team left a lot to be desired. His ideas for a Caribbean pro league has some gaping holes which he tried to cover up with bluster and his cheeky grin and not enough data or policy or strategic vision. Yet we vote him in as some Post-Warner messiah. Now we cannot pretend to be shocked. Lasana had called this play from the first whistle

    • The failure to raise corporate sponsorship–outside of a NLCB deal that is only for youth programme–was always a clear warning sign. Not even sponsors like Carib and TSTT who have ALWAYS spent on football could be wooed.
      Something has to be wrong there.

    • EXACTLY! Is like we trying to catch fish in stagnant water. We know going in that the organization is viewed as toxic. Then we compound the case by empowering people with neither a track record not a viable approach to problem solving.

  24. Sorry to say, but women football in Trinidad is getting worst..

  25. The FAs that can pay and are lucrative are built on a viable, sustainable business model. Sell TV rights. Have gate receipts. Run successful professional leagues. We have none of that. We have no billionaire oligarch patronage. What do we really expect—that changing the captain will magically transform the sinking ship?

  26. This was just a matter of time. The TTFA is still owing Coach Hart a lot of unpaid salary and this moron continues to get away with screwing everybody. Doesn’t anyone have the balls to report him to FIFA?

  27. Ha ha ha ha ha all your get what all your vote for

  28. Ttfa! I fed up of Alyu! Hiring ppl u can’t pay but will have to find said money and more when they sue u…

  29. We seem to destroy everything we touch..not midas touch as much as blighters touch…I guess they’ll incorporate a new company again and rebrand..them really good yes

  30. So when is it going to stop, when are the football powers-that-be live up to their end of the bargain?
    they bring these people here and then don’t pay them, come-on this is ridiculous, and at the end of the day the program and the footballers suffer and then people wonder why we do so poorly on the field, when off-the-field the bosses can’t seem to get their act together

  31. The cycle seems to be we don’t pay coaches until they leave and sue.
    Then we can’t pay the new coaches as we are struggling to pay the old ones.
    So the new ones leave and sue too…
    And around and around we go.
    If Carolina was as frustrated with the alleged behaviour of the ttfa as the non-payment of salaries, then her frustration is the same as Anton Corneal, Kendall Walkes, Stephen Hart and God knows how many more.

  32. Local coaches unfortunately drop everything and move on because they don’t want to stand against DJW, no respect or dignity afforded local coaches, this is bordering on abuse! International coaches will go legal and win with costs that the TTFA apparently haven’t got?

    Fair play to Ramesh Ramdhan who did stand his ground and has won his case with costs.

    Another fine example of “Crabs in a barrel” mentality, no expertise, no experience and no future in this administration. Sol Campbell and Dennis be careful, the knives are out for you.

  33. She’ll have them for Sunday roast. If its not the politics, its the sporting politics..sweet T&T

  34. David John Williams must be merited for his remarkable appetite for wrecking football. .

  35. Like alyuh expected anything differrent…. de woman has no patience, no respect, more and more.

  36. Spoke to one of our youth team players who trained under her… Let’s just say that she leaving the program is a real step in the right direction…
    .

  37. I think Stevie Wonder could have seen this one coming No-Nonsense Coach + TTFA = TotalFiasco

  38. My goodness! I am lost for words; just tired of the idiocy so prevalent in T&T sports leadership.

  39. Same shit just a different day