The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) financial woes can go from bad to worse if the local body cannot prove it is fit for business within the next four months.
The FIFA press office informed Wired868 that the TTFA will not be eligible to receive any funding from 1 January 2015 unless it hires a new technical director and implements proper internal financial audits.
All FIFA member associations, including the TTFA, are due an annual subvention of $1.6 million (US$250,000) from the global football body providing they prove that their associations are being run properly.
At present, the TTFA does not have a technical director after Anton Corneal quit in April over unpaid salaries. TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips invited applications for the vacant post in June and promised to announce an appointment by mid-July 2014. However, the post remains unoccupied.
The TTFA financial committee, which is chaired by football president Raymond Tim Kee, is yet to hold a single official meeting since he took office. Tim Kee is also the Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer.
FIFA vowed not to offer any leniency to the TTFA or any other poorly run football association in 2015.
“According to the General Regulations for the FIFA Development Programmes (article 3.1.2), a member association or a confederation, in order to be eligible to receive programme funds, must employ a general secretary as well as a technical development director to take charge of the programmes,” a FIFA spokesman told Wired868. “Generally speaking, since 2013, FIFA has been promoting a regular exchange with its member associations regarding the implementation of the General Regulations for FIFA Development Programmes.
“Please note that while the General Regulations for FIFA Development Programmes and the amended FAP Regulations came into force on 1 July, 2013, full compliance with all of their provisions is compulsory for member associations and confederations as of 1 January 2015.”
The Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team’s continues to feel the brunt of the TTFA’s failings in the short term as the “Soca Warriors” scrapped its proposed international friendly against Guadeloupe due to the ongoing financial issues.
Wired868 understands that the senior friendly, which was carded for September 6 at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, was cancelled as the TTFA could not provide guarantees over a pre-match training camp and owed monies to players and staff.
The TTFA instead announced that the national under-20 team will face Guadeloupe instead. The match will now act as the sole international warm-up fixture for the teenagers before next month’s Under-20 Caribbean Championships, which will be staged in Trinidad.
“The game comes at an ideal time for us and will be a great test for the young men,” national under-20 coach Derek King told the TTFA Media.“We’ve been in training for a few weeks well and we’ve had the opportunity to play against some of the pro teams as well as the national under-17 team.
“The boys have progressed quite well and every player is now eager to go into the tournament and give of his best and go on to qualify for the CONCACAF Finals.”
The under-20 team will play Curacao, Suriname and Cuba on September 12, 14 and 16 respectively in Caribbean Football Union (CFU) action at venues to be determined in Trinidad.
In the past week, the Trinidad and Tobago senior women lifted the Caribbean Cup title in Port of Spain while the national under-17 boys advanced from their CFU group in St Lucia.
In both cases, preparation was far from ideal as the senior women began a pre-tournament camp in Houston two weeks late and with roughly half their squad. And the national under-17 team had neither a pre-tournament camp nor international practice matches before it headed to St Lucia.
And Wired868 understands that the logistical issues involved in summoning the senior men—the TTFA’s only fully-professional team—was beyond the capabilities of the present body, which is headed by president Tim Kee and Phillips.
An informed source close to the Warriors, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that the TTFA still has not paid match fees to players and staff for their last friendly against Iran on 8 June 2014. The senior men’s team played just twice in 2014 against Argentina and Iran.
It would be difficult for the Warriors to get a reasonable team together without significant financial outlay too, as several Pro League players are away on trials, while the TTFA allegedly could not give assurances about the length of a pre-game camp.
So, noted the insider, what would be the point of a preparation game without any preparation?
And why risk alienating the country’s best players by summoning them to an unprofessional environment?
There are no other FIFA dates left before the Warriors kick off their Caribbean Cup campaign on October 6. So head coach Stephen Hart must either stick to the players he worked with over the past year or risk blooding untested talent at competitive level.
The 2014 Caribbean Cup offers a fascinating and unprecedented first place prize as the winner will earn a spot at the 2016 Copa America tournament alongside the likes of Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.
Cuba is the present defending Caribbean champion, after the Spanish-speaking island recorded an extra time win over the Warriors at the 2012 edition, while Jamaica is the host nation and 2014 tournament favourite.
Last November, Trinidad and Tobago defeated Jamaica in home and away exhibition matches. But, since then, Jamaica played six international games including contests with Serbia, Switzerland, Egypt and France.
And the “Reggae Boyz” have already booked match-ups against Canada and Japan in September and October respectively.
Jamaica will already get a jump on the rest of the Caribbean next year when its team participates in the 2015 Copa America as an invited guest. The Boyz seized the opportunity to rub shoulders with South America’s top nations after Japan and then China declined requests to compete.
If the Boyz win the 2014 Caribbean Cup, Trinidad and Tobago’s great regional rival will keep that South American exposure to themselves for two successive years.
Thus far, little in the Warriors’ preparation suggests that the TTFA is capable of providing its frontline team with the tools to stop them while corporate Trinidad and Tobago continues to keep the local football body at arm’s length.
Tim Kee and Phillips can feasibly lose the support of FIFA too within a few months unless they finally come good on their promise to revitalise the renamed football body before the end of the year.