An inexplicable no-show from match officials put local football into disrepute once more as Caribbean champions Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA and Super League club Stokely Vale were forced to abandon their TTFF FA Trophy quarterfinal fixture today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
On 6 November 2012, referees failed to turn out for a Pro League derby between defending champions DIRECTV W Connection and rookies Central FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
At the time, Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene told Wired868 that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) Referees Committee forgot to assign officials for the game.
Referees Committee president Krishna Kuairsingh, who is also a TTFF vice-president, could not be reached by phone and he did not respond to any messages.
Kuairsingh’s phone was switched off again today while Caledonia and Stokely Vale players fumed at the farcical turn of events.
FA tournament organiser Sharon O’Brien said the Referees Committee was notified of the fixtures for close to a month while it also received a reminder at the start of this week.
“The referees got the notice since before the New Year,” said O’Brien. “I don’t know the reason for no one turning up and I will have to find out before I say anything more.”
Match commissioner Wayne Cunningham was especially sympathetic towards the Stokely Vale team who travelled to Trinidad by ferry this morning.
“I just heard it was a miscommunication and the referees couldn’t come,” said Cunningham. “I tried to get North Zone referees to do the game but they couldn’t come in time as Stokely Vale had to catch a plane for 9 pm. It is a sad, sad case.
“I suppose we will have to hear from the Referees’ (Committee) now.”
Stokely Vale, an amateur team, travelled to Trinidad with 20 players and officials this morning who all took time off from work. They are due to leave tonight by plane.
If one includes ground transport and meals, the Tobagonians might have easily spent a combined $9,000 today. They will now request reimbursement from the TTFF.
But Stokely Vale coach James Campbell knows that the impact of the abandoned match goes beyond money.
“The last time we came to Trinidad, we only had a bare eleven (players),” said Campbell, “because it can be difficult for the guys to get time off from work.
“Today, we had a full squad to play Caledonia. So it is really disappointing that the game can’t go ahead.”
Stokely Vale is undefeated in regulation time after five meetings with Digicel Pro League teams this season. North East Stars needed penalties to eliminate the Tobago giant-killers in the Toyota Classic Cup while Stokely Vale edged Caledonia in a shoot-out at the Classic quarterfinals and already whipped Police, Defence Force and St Ann’s Rangers.
Today should have been a revenge match for the “Eastern Stallions” against the Super League upstarts.
Stokely Vale striker Rundell Winchester and defender Omar Charles were snapped up by Central FC after the team’s impressive Cup run. Perhaps their teammates hoped to use today’s knock out contest to also secure Pro League contracts before the transfer window closes on January 15.
There is no chance of that now thanks to Kuairsingh and his troops.