Home / Live Wire / Guerra-gate: Live Wire identifies the Warriors’ real source of shame

Guerra-gate: Live Wire identifies the Warriors’ real source of shame

An act of humility towards an Argentine man with a supposed gateway to divinity continues to mystify and discomfort cynics in the wake of Trinidad and Tobago’s friendly international against Argentina in Buenos Aires last night.

But enough about the habitual greeting for Pope Francis; what about Ataullah Guerra’s pre-kick off bow to football legend Lionel Messi?

It is customary to genuflect before the Pope since Catholics believe him to have the ear of God. But how do you greet the little Barcelona player who might have Jesus’ left foot?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra (centre) ignores the usual pre-match handshake routine to pay a special tribute to Argentina captain Lionel Messi. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra (centre) ignores the usual pre-match handshake routine to pay a special tribute to Argentina captain Lionel Messi.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Well, Guerra hailed Messi with a bow and grin before kick off; the sort of thing that pardners sometimes do on the street corner. And, from the social media meltdown that followed, one might have thought that the Central FC midfielder and former John John resident had invited the Argentina captain up to room 201.

It turns out that Trinidad and Tobago is quite interested in what its footballers get up to, which might pleasantly surprise the “Soca Warriors” who usually play in front of near deserted stadia at home and can barely rely on public or private sector funding to even have training camps. Who knew?

The school of thought from critics of Guerra’s gesture seems two-fold.

First, it is an insult to one’s own self-worth to offer a rival such a show of appreciation.

Photo: Argentina legend Diego Maradona (right), arguably the game's best player of all time, pays tribute to Brazil maestro Ronaldinho.
Photo: Argentina legend Diego Maradona (right), arguably the game’s best player of all time, pays tribute to Brazil maestro Ronaldinho.

And, secondly, such gestures never happen before a contest;

Photo: Former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting gets a special greeting from the South African team before his last Test.
Photo: Former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting gets a special greeting from the South African team before his last Test.

It definitely would not happen when two teams consider each other to be equals;

Photo: Combative ex-Manchester United captain Roy Keane and his teammates give Chelsea captain Frank Lampard (centre) and his teammates a guard of honour for their Premiership success.
Photo: Combative ex-Manchester United captain Roy Keane and his teammates give Chelsea captain Frank Lampard (centre) and his teammates a guard of honour for their Premiership success.

And, certainly, no player would ever treat one of our athletes with such respect.

Photo: Former West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago batting legend Brian Lara (right) receives a guard of honour from the England cricket team at the London Oval.
Photo: Former West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago batting legend Brian Lara (right) receives a guard of honour from the England cricket team at the London Oval.

Mr Live Wire can only hope that Guerra takes time out from sobbing in the corner of his hotel room to write an apology to the nation for his embarrassing, misguided show of deference to the only player in the history of the game who, at just 26 years old, has held the World Player of the Year trophy four times.

But Guerra was not the only national football team member to display mistimed subservience this week.

On Sunday, the Trinidad and Tobago national football team turned up at the Piarco International Airport to travel to Buenos Aires; only to be told that a Ministry of Tourism official had struck goalkeeper coach Michael Maurice, a former “Strike Squad” player with over four decades of service to his country, and therapist Dave Isaac off the travelling list for its chartered flight.

So, a Government that considers sisters and mistresses to be appropriate taxpayer-funded travel companions decided that the Warriors should do without two important staff members for two days while Brian Lara, Shal Marshall, the Siparia Rhythm Section and dozens of even less relevant persons boarded.

At times like this, a national coach should ask himself: “What would Leo Beenhakker do?”

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker.
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker.

Beenhakker, the renowned former Real Madrid and Netherlands coach, famously asked the local football body for three pairs of Copa Mundial Adidas boots, 10 FIFA-approved balls and a movable goalpost for his first training session with Trinidad and Tobago.

Instead, he got Kaiser Adidas boots, non-FIFA balls and a verbal assurance that the goalpost would be sourced soon and he should continue with what was available for now.

Beenhakker refused to take to the field until he had the tools he deemed necessary; and, within a day, then TTFF special advisor Jack Warner found the relevant goalpost and had boots and balls delivered via Fed Ex. The coach went on to lead Trinidad and Tobago to a historic 2006 World Cup place.

Tobagonian Bertille St Clair has form for such defiance too.

His first chance to coach a national senior team came in the mid-1990s when German Jochen Figge selected him as an assistant. Then TTFF president Oliver Camps told St Clair the good news but warned him that there was no money to pay a salary and he would have to settle for a stipend.

Photo: Bertille St Clair was the first coach to steer Trinidad and Tobago to a FIFA tournament when he took the nation to the 1991 World Youth Cup. (Courtesy TTFFonline)
Photo: Bertille St Clair was the first coach to steer Trinidad and Tobago to a FIFA tournament when he took the nation to the 1991 World Youth Cup.
(Courtesy TTFFonline)

“Is Figge getting a salary?” asked St Clair, who was the first coach to take Trinidad and Tobago to a FIFA tournament back in 1991.

“Yes,” replied Camps.

“When allyuh find money to pay me too, call me,” said St Clair, who got up and headed straight for the airport to catch a flight back to Tobago.

A few years later, the TTFF offered St Clair the head coaching job; and he remains the only person to take Trinidad and Tobago to a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal place.

Neither Beenhakker nor St Clair would have bowed to such disrespect at Piarco and boarded that flight to Buenos Aires. The Ministry of Tourism would have had to either get Maurice and Isaac on board or put Lara in goal.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national football head coach Stephen Hart (centre) and captain Kenwyne Jones (right) land in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national football head coach Stephen Hart (centre) and captain Kenwyne Jones (right) land in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA)

But Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart took his team on the chartered plane. And, three days later, his words might have had a hollow ring when he urged his players to stand up for themselves against Argentina.

Hart is an affable gentleman and possesses a sound tactical mind. But neither attribute is as key to success in these parts as stubborn, single-minded vision and a refusal to go with the flow.

He has been warned.

As for the Trinidad and Tobago citizens who are more concerned with Guerra’s courtesy to Messi than his promising performance once the game kicked off, Mr Live Wire offers a short tutorial about what shame really is:

Photo: Pre-match nicities completed, Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra (left) makes Argentina and Barcelona regular Javier Mascherano fall at his feet. (Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)
Photo: Pre-match niceties completed, Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra (left) makes Argentina and Barcelona regular Javier Mascherano fall at his feet.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)

Shame is when men come to kidnap your wife and you run and dive to save your maid;

Shame is when the acting Police Commissioner says the best Minister he ever worked with it is under investigation from every integrity body and law agency in the country and a few internationally too;

Shame is when the Opposition Leader blasts the Chaguanas West MP all over the place for ‘thiefing’ the footballers’ money and it is the PNM treasurer that helped him get away with it;

Shame is when your Prime Minister auditioned to be a Laker girl when a retired NBA star visited but never showed up to watch a local basketball game yet;

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is lifted airborne to take a shot by former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. (Courtesy Newsday)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is lifted airborne to take a shot by former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.
(Courtesy Newsday)

Shame is when the Government handing millions to former murder convicts in the Life Sport program and then cancelling leave for policemen and soldiers so they can act like they’re trying to fight crime;

Shame is when the Sport Minister and coach of a top Olympian lectures everybody about morality and still cannot explain what Minister Two Pull was rolling in a home video;

And shame is when the Port of Spain mayor is too busy to meet his environs in a town meeting then runs off for five days in Buenos Aires to see Lionel Messi play; and everybody thinks it is a 26-year-old Trinidad and Tobago footballer who acted like a groupie.

 

Editor’s Note: Trinidad and Tobago national football team head coach Stephen Hart and manager David Muhammad subsequently claimed that they were tricked into boarding the chartered flight to Buenos Aires without their two colleagues.

AboutMr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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22 comments

  1. Shame is when…. Like Like Like!!!

  2. Carefull man next thing is you getting letters to attend court.

  3. Great article. Especially the passage about Trinidad and Tobago being interested in what its footballer are up to even if they ignore totally actual games in the Pro league etc. So wonderfully true and expressed. We really are an arrogant lot! One blogger would bow to no man. I really laughed at that one. Another definition for shame: Shame is when 22 men come out on the field for war but to the 15000 in attendance it is about party, painted faces and half time entertainment! As an ex footballer I know what it is to play against Dingle Boys in Arouca and the only non footballer attendee is the ref! We tend to take everything for granted in this country and that is why our football is at a low ebb. We leave it all in the hands of those who lead. If Guerra bowed to Messi how is that bad? Your pictures put into context what you were trying to prove. Nuff said. I loved the article.

  4. Ataullah is one of the most humble people I have ever met. His bow was a genuine salute to one of the world’s best players. It was a friendly match. The outcome didn’t affect anyone’s world cup position and it looked to me like Messi embraced him for his gesture.
    More importantly now, who is the only Trinidad and Tobago player that is being spoken about all over the internet? Ataullah Guerra! Well done kiddo and it was unintentional he brought that attention to himself. However whether negative or positive, any press is good press for him, and it’s time some coach or scout discover his ability as a footballer and give him that break he deserves. All the best to you Ataullah!!

  5. This is really well said

  6. agree with johann the things you used to justify guerra’s bow is way out of context and really flawed if you associate yourself with the world of sport and football other thn that this is a pretty good article

  7. Is there video of the bowing? Looks to me like he was doing it jokingly. Or playfully reenacting that scene from Wayne’s World.

  8. i must say, i enjoyed this piece; every line of it. I must also add that i too thought the bow was taking “showing respect” a little too far, but what i most admire is the way Mr. Live Wire was able to break it down and asked the people of T&T to look at whats really important other than bashing someone for bowing to Messi .. great read..

  9. Trinidad and Tobago could beat Argentina easily. Some of the players are playing in the wrong positions. In my ‘informed’ opinion there are strikers, midfielders, defenders and goal keepers throughout the world that make and have made better contributions to their teams than Messi does.
    He is no doubt great at what he does but also plays out of position for his country. If Guerra chooses to bow to the man, I might think he is bowing to the wrong man but that was his decision. If Guerra bows to himself in front of the mirror first and then bows to who he thinks deserves it, then who am I to judge? Did anyone ask him about this?
    He did not put himself in the uniform and did not select himself to play. Did anyone find out what the code of conduct is with regard to gesticulating in this manner in our national colours? What is the difference in this instance and our tourism ambassadors getting booed and still continue to ‘sell’ T&T? Could it be construed as ‘sucking up,’ Argentina is better than T&T?
    Who chartered the plane and why? Was it the Ministry of Sport or TTFA?
    Does this country owe national representatives anything for poor performances? Or do nationals at least owe this country fighting losses? Taxpayers foot the bill for facilities and these opportunities. It is time to talk about returns on investment with convincing wins. Praising mediocre losses and ‘praising’ gesticulations may not garner anything substantial towards national pride either. Only if tan^(-1) (Commess)n3 +√Bacchanal=∑Trini National Pride.

  10. We are too nasty in this country What the hell the guy did wrong? Some of us bow to the P.M. what she is god no but here we go .The guy paid his respect how he saw it fit to do,Politician go on platform and say what they say and a lot of us bow (you all know what i mean). Like you said Live wire when on street corner and a partner makes a good point what do we do? Put out our hand and bow saying yeah good point you win. Nasty people he played his heart out after. He did not just stand there and let messi pass, he played. Boy oh boy what a country.

  11. I still believe that was embarrassing as all the other tributes you spoke of did not show any player bowing to another….that to me is showing that this person is more significant or better than you….you can express your admiratiin in words…..I love Messi but I would never bow to him or no mortal

    • Lasana Liburd

      James, in some cultures people bow to their neighbours, friends and work colleagues. In other countries, Messi would have received a peck on the cheek. You might prefer to dazzle him with your oratory.
      The point is because you wouldn’t do it should mean that someone else shouldn’t. He didn’t poke him in the eye. He just made a little gesture that might be touching or might be silly. What it shouldn’t be is an embarrassment to his country.

  12. While I appreciate your sentiments, your comparisons are fundamentally flawed.

    How can you compare EPL teams giving the visiting champions a guard of honour, or an opposing team giving a retiring legend a guard of honour – both of which are customs – to a player bowing before an opposing player prior to a game – which is NOT a custom?

    Context, is that so hard?

    • Lasana Liburd

      I will not say you don’t have a point Johann. But then I didn’t say what Guerra did was customary either. What I said is that players showing respect for other players is not a bizarre concept. Even if you disagree with what Guerra did, understand what he was trying to do.
      And there, hopefully, is your context.

    • It’s not customary – so what? Did you really read the article? Why is this young man the source of controversy when most Trinidadians are ambivalent about the atrocious state of local football? As Lasana said, so often these young men play to empty stadia, unless it’s qualifying season or we playing a big squad.

      I don’t necessarily approve of the young man’s gesture, but I understand it. Messi is his hero. We don’t have the infrastructure to create our own heroes, but we coming down on the boy. Steups. Preach Lasana.

  13. For a while I was about to say ”what the hell does Guerra has to apologise for,” then I realise it was another of your parodies/satire.
    -Shame is also when a Rhythm Section can get on the plane but two members of the Technical staff cannot.
    -Shame is also when you find money to pay the German coach, but can’t pay our most celebrated local coach. Actually, that is more ‘Bold Facedness.”

  14. Well written article Lasana now you put me to shame! I did not look at it this way as you put it. So I will agree with you double shame on the Head coach, and mayor Tim Kee.

  15. Loved the article!