Emergency minutes: More Capelli mystery, De Four, McKnight hired, U-23s axed and U-15 girls snubbed again

The Soca Warriors were already outfitted in Capelli Sport gear a full two weeks before the Emergency Committee sanctioned its kit deal on behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

The dodgy timeline for the TTFA’s latest equipment sponsor was one of several notable revelations from the football body’s Emergency Committee meeting on Thursday 13 June, along with national coaching posts for Stephan De Four and Teba McKnight and more misery for the Women’s National Under-15 Team.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team train in Los Angeles in preparation for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

The Emergency Committee also confirmed its official withdrawal of the Men’s National Under-23 Team from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying series. The decision was supposedly taken ‘due to financial constraints’, although Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe claimed recently that president David John-Williams said he would not send the team even if he had the money due to his concerns about their preparation.

The decision would be a blow to proposed National Under-23 Team head coach Angus Eve who suggested previously that the scuppering of the youth team might be linked to his criticism of the football president and urged Cudjoe to step in.

Incidentally, the 2017 National Under-20 Team that would comprise the core of Eve’s squad are the only one of the TTFA’s eight national outfits that did not experience a blip in standards since John-Williams was elected in November 2015.


The issue of Capelli Sport, on the other hand, speaks to fears both inside the TTFA and beyond that John-Williams has reduced the football body’s organisations to rubber stamps.

The TTFA Emergency Committee selected Capelli Sport as the Soca Warriors official 2019 Concacaf Gold kit sponsor on 13 Thursday June, according to minutes of the standing committee’s meeting. That decision was shared on the TTFA website on Friday 14 June before being conveyed to Board members today.

The timeline suggests that, although the TTFA Constitution lists the Board of Directors as its ‘executive body’ with power to ‘pass decisions on all cases that do not come within the sphere of responsibility of the General Meeting or are not reserved for other bodies by law’, president David John-Williams not only failed to involve the Board in this process, but shared news with the general public before even informing his colleagues.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeepers Adrian Foncette (left) and Greg Ranjitsingh train with kits from different sponsors at a pre-Gold Cup team camp in Los Angeles.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

But, crucially, if neither the Emergency Committee nor the Board approved the apparel before Thursday, then under whose authority did Capelli Sport outfit the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team when they wore their gear to travel to Japan on 31 May?

The minutes from Thursday’s meeting, which was shared with Board members by general secretary Camara David, stated only that: ‘following online discussions and approvals, the meeting officially approved Capelli as the TTFA Gold Cup 2019 kit sponsor’.

The TTFA Emergency Committee consists of: John-Williams (president), Ewing Davis (vice-president), Selby Browne (VFFOTT), Richard Quan Chan (SFA), Anthony Moore (TFA) and Bandele Kamau (EFA). All six were present at last Thursday’s meeting, along with David.

Curiously, the minutes of the meeting listed David as a member and Quan Chan and Moore as vice-presidents.

The TTFA Constitution allows for one vice-president on its Emergency Committee while David, as general secretary, cannot serve as a member.

Wired868 asked John-Williams and David whether Quan Chan and Moore were now vice-presidents and which TTFA official gave ‘approvals’ to Capelli Sport before the matter was brought to the Board or any standing committee.

Photo: Soca Warriors head coach Dennis Lawrence (far right) poses with TTFA president David John-Williams (second from right), team manager Richard Piper (second from left) and Camara David (far left) in 2018.
(Copyright Alan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Neither responded by the time of publication.

The TTFA’s Capelli deal runs until the end of the Gold Cup on 7 July and, according to the release, only caters for the Men’s Senior Team uniforms. The local football body also claimed that it ‘will gain financial benefits and incentives from the one month contract’. No details of either were given.

A TTFA statement on Friday claimed that there was a tendering process which involved four bids. However, there was no mention of that in the minutes of the Emergency Committee meeting either.

Yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association’s vice-president Osmond Downer, suggested that John-Williams’ use of the Emergency Committee to decide matters like kit sponsors was a possible abuse of the constitution.

“Emergency means an unexpected, sudden situation—this is the dictionary’s definition,” Downer told Wired868. “Deciding on kit proposals cannot be an unexpected, sudden situation. That is not what the Emergency Committee was designed for within the constitution.”

The minutes of Thursday’s Emergency Committee meeting arguably strengthen Downer’s case.

According to John-Williams, the TTFA’s contract with Joma expired in 2018. However, the football president did not raise the matter at the football body’s Board meeting on 6 May 2019. Yet, less than a month later, the Warriors were displaying a new sponsor before John-Williams finally tabled the issue with his Emergency Committee.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Team pose before kickoff against Japan in an international friendly in Aichi on 5 June.
The two teams played to a 0-0 draw.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

Five Board members, Sharon Joseph-Warrick, Raeshawn Mars, Colin Partap, Joseph Taylor and Keith Look Loy complained, earlier this week, that they are being sidelined by John-Williams while Look Loy branded the Emergency Committee as ‘a cabal’.

The TTFA Emergency Committee also appointed De Four as head coach for the Women’s National Senior, Under-20 and Under-17 Teams, while McKnight was appointed National Under-14 Elite Development Boys Head Coach, after being proposed by John-Williams.

There were no financial details given in either case and the minutes suggested only that De Four’s terms were ‘within the financial capacity of the TTFA’. The Women Soca Warriors coach’s contract is due to run ‘until 30 June 2021 subject to interval performance appraisals’.

De Four is expected to submit a proposed team and strategic women’s football plan, which will both be ‘ratified’ at a later meeting. The minutes did not state if those plans would be placed before the Board or the Emergency Committee, which seems to now operate as a pseudo-board.

The Committee also approved a ‘TTFA Youth Invitational Tournament’ to ruin July—as part of its ‘111th anniversary’—and ‘agreed that the funding for the tournament be used from the sponsored NLCB Elite Youth Program’. Browne is a board member of both the TTFA and the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB).

Photo: VFFOTT president Selby Browne.

Within 48 hours of the Emergency Committee decision, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela were declared as participants of a four team Boys Under-15 round robin competition, which should run from 17 to 21 July.

While the TTFA found three respectable teams from North, Central and South America respectively in a flash, there was lukewarm news for the Womens’ Under-17 Team and none at all for the Women’s Under-15 Team.

A TTFA statement claimed that the football body is ‘in discussion with two Caribbean countries’ to host a Women’s Under-17 invitational tournament but was non-commital about the idea.

There is a notable difference in the TTFA’s treatment of its Boys and Girls Under-15 Team.

In 2016, NLCB agreed to pump TT$8 million into the local football body for its two Under-15 Teams over a four-year period, which equates to TT$1 million per year for each team. Among the components of the plan are a minimum of one international game per year.

In Year Three of the sponsorship deal, the Boys Under-15s have already played four times while they have three more friendlies lined up for July and a minimum of four Concacaf Under-15 games in store this August.

So by the end of 2019, the Boys National Under-15 Team—which is led by W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier—would have played at least 11 international matches.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s U-15 Team warm down after their 4-0 win over the Dominican Republic on 10 August 2016 in the Concacaf Championship.
The Women’s U-15 Team were forced to miss the 2018 Concacaf Championship due to the TTFA’s late application for visas.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

In contrast, the Girls National Under-15 Team, which infamously missed the 2017 Concacaf Championship due to late visa applications by the TTFA, have not played one single international match in three years. And the TTFA has apparently agreed to use some of the NLCB funds meant for the young ladies to hold a Boys Invitational Tournament with a caveat of two games against Caribbean opposition for the Women’s Under-17 Team.

John-Williams, whose Connection club does not have a women’s team, has been severely criticised by women players for his unequal treatment of the two sexes with National Senior Team manager Jinelle James dubbing him a ‘chauvinist’.

The Emergency Committee also sanctioned a third tier ‘League of Champions’ competition, which is meant to ‘fill the gap between the regional competitions and the new proposed T-League’. A decision on the participating teams, competition structure and prize monies was postponed for a subsequent meeting.

The Committee also revealed that talks are ongoing with the Defence Force to flood national teams with physios, medics, equipment managers and trainers, so as to ‘reduce team staff costs’.

There was also a promise to ‘look within its finances to offer a grant to each of the six regional associations to assist in the running of their respective competitions’.

The TTFA is due to holds its general elections by November 2019.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief 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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