‘Travesty of logic and justice’, ‘attempted coup’, ‘cover-up’: TTFA officials condemn Fifa intervention

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) stakeholders have slammed Fifa’s decision to implement a normalisation committee on the island and effectively nullify the football body’s election last November.

Fifa, in a press release today, claimed that its fact-finding mission to Trinidad last month—done in conjunction with Concacaf—found ‘extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt’ which puts the local football body in ‘a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity’.

Photo: TTFA president William Wallace (far right), general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan (second from right) and technical director Dion La Foucade (second from left) talk to Women’s U-20 Team manager Maylee Attin-Johnson during practice at the Ato Boldon Stadium training field in Couva on 7 February 2020.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/Wired868)

Supposedly on the back of that claim, the Fifa Bureau opted to set up a normalisation committee, since ‘corrective measures need to be applied urgently’.

TTFA president William Wallace expressed surprise at Fifa’s stance, since it was his administration who not only pointed out the flaws in the TTFA’s financial structure to the governing body but remedies to rectify them as well.

“We commissioned an audit into [the TTFA’s internal structure] by our finance people and they provided a report which we provided to [Fifa],” Wallace told Wired868. “Fifa didn’t come in and discover that—we gave it to them; and their response was that this is 50 percent of their job done.

“We went into an organisation with a total absence of financial structure and were working on developing one.”

Kendall Tull, a consultant with decades of financial management and audit experience, agreed to head the TTFA’s finance committee under Wallace and has spearheaded the governance reform of the local football body. He sat in on meetings with the Fifa/Concacaf mission during their visit.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players savour the moment after their penalty shootout win over Puerto Rico in the Concacaf U-20 Championship Round of 16 in the Dominican Republic on 1 March 2020.
(Copyright MexSport/Concacaf)

The foreign contingent comprised of: Fifa finance coordinator Mehmet Dirlik, Concacaf finance manager Alejandro Kesende, Concacaf finance department Dally Fuentes and Valeria Yepes, an independent auditor. Their report was not shared with the TTFA.

Tull, a former Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) official, described Fifa’s statement today as a misrepresentation.

“One of the things that was said by the Concacaf representation, Alejandro [Kesende], was it is the first time he has ever come [to Trinidad] and someone spoke his language in relation to the financial issues facing the organisation,” said Tull, “and in terms of the lack of internal controls and other issues that have been plaguing the organisation. They literally said that the report we gave to them that outlined what we found and had recommendations about how we would proceed going forward made their jobs a whole lot easier.

“They recognised that the new administration understood what the circumstances were and were taking steps to address it. All of that was actually said.

“So you would not have thought on the basis of what they said—we are not debating whether what Fifa said [about the weakness of the TTFA’s structure] is untrue—but to suggest we were not addressing it as a matter of urgency and priority is a misrepresentation. That absolutely is not the case.”

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino struts at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva during an exhibition match on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Tull said the finance committee has already completed a workshop with board members on their legal responsibilities under the Companies Act and is in the process of creating a delegation of financial authorities to govern how the local football body runs its financial affairs. Both exercises are believed to be unprecedented in local football.

“This would specify who had the ability to bind the organisation to a financial decision and in what context,” said Tull. “For instance, the football president couldn’t wake up one morning and be able to decide he wanted to build a swimming pool. Those decisions would have been bound by the board.

“All of those things we were putting in place and it would have required an upgrade of the financial reporting, so that every month there would have been different breakdowns of spending based on the source of funds.

“In fact, the audited accounts for 2019, which was substantially complete, was being changed to reflect that. This change came directly from our meeting with Fifa and Concacaf when we raised it and they said that was a good idea.

“[…] We even talked about the need for procurement policies, so that they could place reliance on the controls from the country’s end—which would reduce the need for due diligence on their side.”

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (centre) is flanked by FIFA president Gianni Infantino (right) and TTFA president David John-Williams during the opening of the TTFA Home of Football in Couva on 18 November 2019.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Among a raft of internal issues raised, Tull pointed out that the TTFA was improperly registered and had apparently been making PAYE payments under the account name of a sole trader company, TTFF, set up by late former president Oliver Camps and wound up in 2011.

The fact that Wallace’s predecessor, David John-Williams, withheld TT$4 million in NIS, PAYE and health surcharge payments for employees from the relevant state bodies, Tull explained, was just the tip of the iceberg.

“There is currently a process being undertaken to regularise organisations that are non-profit and we were trying to take advantage of that to sort out our legal registration issues,” he said. “We literally had a meeting about that on Saturday and had already spoken to NIB and BIR people.

“[…] To suggest that this administration was lax in its responsibilities is nonsense.”

Remarkably, although Fifa posted notice of its action against the TTFA on its website, the governing football body, headed by president Gianni Infantino, is yet to officially inform the local organisation.

“Fifa put it out as a media release without even informing us,” said Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president and TTFA board member Keith Look Loy. “That is tremendously disrespectful.”

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)

Wallace confirmed that he had not received any correspondence from Fifa.

“We have not officially been informed by Fifa—neither my general secretary [Ramesh Ramdhan] nor myself,” he said. “The only information I have is that document from the Fifa website. I have since asked my secretary to write to Fifa to get an official response from them.

“Thereafter I am looking to the statutes and I have been advised that we can appeal. I was surprised today that this position was taken, particularly since the reasons cited were the same things we dealt with and seemed to have satisfied the people who came in [from Fifa and Concacaf].

“I am surprised and disappointed.”

Although Wallace was caught unawares, he noted that former TTFA board and emergency committee member Selby Browne—who unsuccessfully contested the post of first vice-president for John-Williams’ slate last November—seemed to have forewarning.

In a post on the Wired868’s Volley Facebook group yesterday, Browne stated: “[…] It is my guess that this entire administration will have to be dragged and taken back to reality in the shortest possible time. Maybe as early as tomorrow to the benefit of football in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Photo: Facebook post by ex-TTFA board member Selby Browne on the eve of Fifa’s decision to implement a normalisation committee on 17 March 2020.

“It is passing strange that persons would have indicated on social media the day before that people are laughing today but tomorrow they will see what happens,” said Wallace. “And something did happen today. Yet even now I have not been officially informed. If we have to go forward that may be part of our evidence.”

Wallace was not the only person to hint at a potential conspiracy. A TTFA board member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, recalled a meeting with Fifa director for Africa and the Caribbean, Veron Mosengo-Omba, last year on issues related to the controversial Home of Football project.

Mosengo-Omba was Fifa’s point-man on the Home of Football and had direct oversight of the project, which is dormant at present due to insurance issues and allegedly shoddy construction work.

“I remember it was three of us who were pressing [Mosengo-Omba] on the fact that David called us on Wednesday for a Thursday meeting on the Home of Football,” said the anonymous board member, “so we wanted to know how could he have made that trip to Trinidad so fast. And he confessed that he knew about the meeting a week in advance.

“[…] So we continued talking and he said to us if we do not support John-Williams in the next election, Fifa will not help us get out of the debt. That was told to the three of us!

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (left) embraces FIFA official FIFA official Veron Mosengo-Omba during the opening of the TTFA Home of Football on 18 November 2019.
Mosengo-Omba, a DR Congo national, was the FIFA official with line responsibility over the construction of the HOF.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

“I stand by what I heard but those fellahs are very powerful and I don’t want to make those kind of enemies… He was doing all the approval for this Fifa project where they couldn’t account for TT$26 million. So I knew where this was going…”

Look Loy, who was not one of those three board members, told Wired868 that he repeatedly urged Mosengo-Omba to investigate the potential misuse of funds at the Home of Football, only to be rebuffed. And he said Fifa should take some responsibility for the financial mismanagement of the last administration.

“I sought to bring to [Mosengo-Omba’s] attention the weaknesses in not only the Home of Football project but the financial management of the TTFA as a whole,” said Look Loy. “And the consistent response of this Veron guy was: ‘this is not Fifa business, this is internal TTFA business; and we have nothing to do with that’. He refused to listen.

“[…] The point is they presided over the creation of this debt and now they want to come and replace the people who inherited the mess. Financial management was not an issue for Fifa when John-Williams was in power.

“He was removed, despite the best efforts by Infantino who encouraged the TTFA electorate and the people of Trinidad and Tobago to support John-Williams, and now it is suddenly enough of an issue for them to overturn a democratically elected administration!”

Photo: (From left to right) Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick, Caribbean Chemicals chairman Joe Pires and TTFA president William Wallace.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Look Loy, the owner of FC Santa Rosa and a former high school teacher, slammed Fifa’s actions.

“This is an attempted coup by Fifa who are trying to overturn the result of a democratic election that expressed the will of Trinidad and Tobago football to remove the last administration,” he said. “Fifa comes across to me—as a good history student—as a colonial absentee landlord that has no respect for the independence and the will of the Caribbean people; and is just doing what it wants to suit its own purpose.”

Look Loy, a former Fifa development officer during the tenure of disgraced ex-Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, pledged, in recent years, that he would not allow another dictator to take the reigns of the local game.

John-Williams helped elect Infantino and Concacaf president Victor Montagliani to their current posts and Look Loy hinted that the high ranking officials were putting personal politics ahead of the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s football.

Look Loy urged fellow Caribbean Football Union (CFU) member associations to stand in solidarity with the twin island republic.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (second from left) celebrates with teammates after his stunning goal against the United States during 2018 World Cup qualifying action in Couva on 10 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Luis Acosta)

“This is a gross injustice and an undermining of the democratic process,” he said. “The people of Trinidad and Tobago legally elected an administration—and we had Fifa and Concacaf officials right there in the room—no outside force should be able to overturn it for their own whims and fancy. We are not going to take this sitting down.

“We are the legitimate representative of Trinidad and Tobago football and are trying to eradicate problems inherited from one of Fifa’s favourite sons. We are trying to resolve issues he created and you are punishing us when you didn’t punish him?!

“That is a travesty of logic and justice.”

Editor’s Note: Fifa has placed TTFA finance manager, Tyril Patrick, in charge of the TTFA until a normalisation committee can be appointed. Patrick was the target of a board investigation for alleged ‘failure to abide by his fiduciary duties’ during the financial mismanagement of the David John-Williams era.

Click HERE to read more.

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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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  1. Everybody know you LookLoy is a worst kind of demon. Telling lies about Mr Browne asking to be on the FIFA Nominalization Committee.

    Everybody know the best man for FiFA to ask to serve on the Normalization Committee is Mr Browne.

    Everybody know FIFA and CONCACAF fire you twice from their organization and not even your boss Jack Warner could help you.

    Everybody know about you and your lies to the Super League clubs who walk away from your League. Hope you have prize money for the clubs this year.

    Everybody know you fraid Mr Browne being elected to the Normalization Committee because the same TTFA Board that you were on in 2019 elected Mr Browne as the man to restructure football in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Everybody know the only other person who could make up lies to try to discredit Mr Browne is your boss Jack Warner.

    Everybody remember the League of Champions that Mr Browne start and your Administration try to stop in December 2019.

    Everybody know your Board had to start back the League of Champions right away in January

    Everybody know you fraid Mr Browne who always put you in your place with your chupidness that is why you lying to try to destroy the man character.

    Everybody know Trinidad and Tobago football will be in a much better place without you LookLoy.

    Everybody know you is a mashup man to stay far away from with your dunce sycophants.

    All you gone with your chipidness and talking about taking FIFA to court – what a joke see you in court Lord Nelson Liar.

  2. We should not be surprised that these events are unfolding regarding the TTFA. The FIFA has a long earned reputation of corruption. In recent years the following persons were implicated (source wikipedia):

    Name Nationality Position Status Ref.
    Chuck Blazer United States Former General Secretary of CONCACAF Guilty plea
    Alejandro Burzaco Argentina CEO of Torneos y Competencias Guilty plea
    Aaron Davidson United States Chairman of the board of Governors of the North American Soccer League and President of Traffic Sports USA Guilty plea
    Rafael Esquivel Venezuela President of the Venezuelan Football Federation and member of the CONMEBOL executive committee Guilty plea
    Eugenio Figueredo Uruguay United States FIFA Vice President, former President of the Uruguayan Football Association, and former President of CONMEBOL Arrested
    José Hawilla Brazil Owner and founder of Traffic Group Guilty plea
    Alfredo Hawit Honduras President of CONCACAF; FIFA Vice-President Guilty plea
    Sergio Jadue Chile Former President of Football Federation of Chile and member of the CONMEBOL executive committee Guilty plea
    Hugo Jinkis Argentina President of Full Play Group Surrendere
    Mariano Jinkis Argentina Vice-President of Full Play Group S.A.; son of Hugo Jinkis Surrendered
    Nicolás Leoz Paraguay Colombia Former President of CONMEBOL Arrested
    Eduardo Li Costa Rica President of the Costa Rican Football Federation, member-elect of the FIFA executive committee, and member of the CONCACAF executive committee Guilty Plea
    José Marguiles Brazil Secretary-General of Traffic Sports Brazil Guilty plea
    José Maria Marin Brazil Former President of the Brazilian Football Confederation and former Governor of São Paulo Convicted
    Juan Ángel Napout Paraguay President of CONMEBOL; FIFA Vice-President Convicted
    Julio Rocha López Nicaragua President of the Nicaraguan Football Federation, FIFA development officer, and former President of the Central American Football Union Guilty Plea
    Costas Takkas Cayman Islands Former General Secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association and Attaché to the CONCACAF President Guilty Plea
    Carlos Chávez Landivar Bolivia President of the Bolivian Football Federation and former treasurer of the CONMEBOL Arrested
    Daryan Warner Trinidad and Tobago Grenada Son of Jack Warner Guilty plea
    Daryll Warner Trinidad and Tobago United States Son of Jack Warner and former FIFA development officer Guilty plea
    Jack Warner Trinidad and Tobago Former Vice President of FIFA, former President of CONCACAF, and former Minister of National Security Bailed
    Jeffrey Webb Cayman Islands President of CONCACAF, President of the Cayman Islands Football Association, and FIFA Vice President Guilty plea
    Name Nationality Description Status Ref.
    Traffic Sports International British Virgin Islands Football events management company and subsidiary of Traffic Group Guilty plea
    Traffic Sports USA United States Football events management company and subsidiary of Traffic Group Guilty plea
    Second indictment
    The December indictment included the following 16 individuals:

    Name Nationality Position Status Ref.
    Ariel Alvarado Panama Current member of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee. Former CONCACAF Executive Committee member
    Manuel Burga Peru Current member of the FIFA Development Committee. Former Peruvian soccer federation president.
    Rafael Callejas Honduras Current member of the FIFA Television and Marketing Committee. Former Honduran football federation president and former president of the Republic of Honduras. Guilty Plea
    Carlos Chávez Bolivia Current CONMEBOL treasurer. Former Bolivian football federation president.
    Luís Chiriboga Ecuador Current Ecuadorian football federation president and member of the CONMEBOL Executive Committee.
    Eduardo Deluca Argentina Former CONMEBOL general secretary.
    Marco Polo Del Nero Brazil Current president of the Brazilian football federation.
    Alfredo Hawit Honduras Current FIFA vice president and Executive Committee member and CONCACAF president. Arrested
    Brayan Jiménez Guatemala Current Guatemalan football federation president and member of the FIFA Committee for Fair Play and Social Responsibility. Guilty Plea
    José Luis Meiszner Argentina Current CONMEBOL general secretary.
    Juan Ángel Napout Paraguay Former FIFA vice president, Executive Committee member and CONMEBOL president, Paraguayan football federation president. Arrested
    Romer Osuna Bolivia Current member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee. Former CONMEBOL treasurer.
    Rafael Salguero Guatemala Former FIFA Executive Committee member and Guatemalan football federation president.
    Ricardo Teixeira Brazil Former Brazilian football federation president and FIFA Executive Committee member.
    Héctor Trujillo Guatemala Current Guatemalan football federation general secretary and judge on the Constitutional Court of Guatemala. On trial. Not guilty plea entered.
    Reynaldo Vasquez El Salvador Former Salvadoran football federation president.

    Should be believe that the era of institutionalized corruption at the FIFA has ended?

    It has long been noted that the standard of football has been in decline in T&T but that does not mean that presiding over the TTFA has been bad business for those involved. In the end, the FIFA answers only to itself and ultimate power breads ultimate corruption.

    I understand and empathize with the new President and Board of the TTFA given what they reportedly inherited and what they have reportedly uncovered. Given the recovery steps they had already undertaken perhaps the FIFA now understands that those steps are not good for their business and they are fearful of what else the new TTFA may uncover which may cause them even more embarrassment. Perhaps that this why they are taking control of the TTFA operations? I mean, it begs the question correct?

    Once again, our football is made to suffer, just like our children will suffer as TUTA walks out of a meeting with the Ministry of Education where it was suggested that, in light of the current COVID 19 shutdown, teachers work one (1) extra week. But that is a discussion for another day.

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