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TTOC slams Phillips’ ‘discourtesy’ over Pan Am U-23 football spat

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis has accused Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips of discourtesy and disrespect over the football body’s handling of a match fee dispute with its National Under-23 Team.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup. Hackshaw was a key member of the National Under-23 Team at the 2015 Pan American Games. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup.
Hackshaw was a key member of the National Under-23 Team at the 2015 Pan American Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The young “Soca Warriors” threatened to boycott their final Toronto 2015 Pan American Games fixture against Mexico today over unpaid match fees and stipends and the TTFA’s failure to guarantee payment.

The Warriors eventually softened their position and took a surprise two goal lead over Mexico before surrendering to a 4-2 loss. However, Phillips never officially informed the TTOC of the potential crisis.

“One would have foreseen that the general secretary would have seen it as a matter of courtesy, if not respect,” Lewis told Wired868, “to have alerted the TTOC on such a matter, since it is a TTOC event, to help alleviate the situation…

“Instead, there is credible information which suggests the general secretary of the TTFA would have had notice and made interventions without calling and notifying the TTOC.

“When there is the potential for issues, it is the normal course of action—and I can speak without fear of contradiction—where phone calls would be made. In all organisations and businesses, there are protocols to follow and conversations that are had to resolve situations before they explode.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

Phillips confirmed that he did not officially inform the TTOC of the threatened strike, even though he wrote to the the Ministry of Sport for a comfort letter to show the players.

Incidentally, Phillips claimed that the Ministry of Sport never responded to the TTFA.

However, the TTFA general secretary said he did not contact the TTOC because the football body was “still in discussion with the players who had not made a final decision.”

“It was an internal issue that we wanted to resolve and at the end of the day we were able to resolve it,” said Phillips. “We assured (the players) that we were making every effort to secure their funding that we had been told was available to us.

“Based on that information, from what I was told, the players decided to play.”

But Lewis insisted that the Under-23 football team was under the auspices of the TTOC in Toronto and, if they boycotted, it is the local olympic committee that would have been held responsible.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. (Courtesy TTOC)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
(Courtesy TTOC)

“He continues to defend the indefensible,” said Lewis. “You have a situation where a TTOC team is threatening to withdraw and he says it is an internal matter. That is not what the TTOC is accustomed to and it is disrespectful and discourteous.”

Lewis said the TTOC is likely to seek a meeting with the TTFA after the Pan Am Games and will share their disappointment with the football body.

“This has been a very distracting Toronto 2015 games,” said Lewis. “When the entire delegation should be forcing on what is important, which is performing at our best to win medals and we have the track and field delegate go into action and having a good day at the office.

“For us to be dealing with these issues caused by the football group is unprecedented. It is deeply disappointing… Even down to the very end, we continue to face deficiencies.”

Lewis said the TTOC is focused on being “athlete driven” and, as a result, has bent over backwards to ensure that the footballers did not suffer, even as the TTFA routinely missed deadlines.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goal scorer Mariah Shade (centre) celebrates with teammates Kennya Cordner (right) and Brianna Ryce during their 2-2 draw with Argentina at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goal scorer Mariah Shade (centre) celebrates with teammates Kennya Cordner (right) and Brianna Ryce during their 2-2 draw with Argentina at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

He revealed that the “Women Soca Warriors” were allowed to remain in Toronto, despite their elimination, so they can prepare for next month’s 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign and receive free medical attention.

Captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner both have worrying injuries and their participation in the Caribbean leg of the Olympic campaign is doubtful.

“The (Women Warriors) have finished their Pan American campaign (but) they wanted to embrace the opportunity to train (in this environment) and that was facilitated,” said Lewis. “So you have a situation where players are having their injuries appropriately treated and they the chance to use excellent facilities with their meals and accommodations and so on handled at no cost to the TTFA…

“The TTOC has always attempted to assist and support the TTFA in whatever way it can… It is disappointing to see them act in this way given the relationship that the TTOC has always had with the TTFA.”

The TTOC president was a member of the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC), whose work led to a new TTFA constitution that was accepted by FIFA and local football stakeholders. It paved the way for a November election for the football body.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

And he said his relationship with football will not be coloured by events surrounding the 2015 Pan American Games.

“I am comforted by the fact that the TTOC continues to have a strong, productive and cordial relationship with football and the president of Trinidad and Tobago football (Raymond Tim Kee),” said Lewis. “I am confident that the approach of the TTFA general secretary is not one that is shared with other stakeholders in football.”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and 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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27 comments

  1. It’s the same mismanagement every time

  2. NO date set yet. Tentatively November.

  3. I saw a few from KJ and they were bad…. Power is ah hell of ah thing and most don’t like to relinquish it.

  4. That’s the thing. Even if Tim Kee and Phillips were totally honourable men, if they have lost trust of players and coaches and can’t gain trust of corporate sector. And even their relationship with govt is antagonistic…
    Why not accept they are not the people to clean up this mess?
    Are you seeing Facebook posts from their team captains and players of the year recently? It is embarrassing.

    • Hannibal Najjar

      Lasana, you hit the key word, concept, engine, and that is TRUST. Trust in the T&TFA and formerly, T&TFF [incidentally it was first, T&TFA] is broken and the wedge is, gorge, canyon, or whatever depiction best describes the ever-widening gap between the nation and the ruling football organization is now filled with echoing sound of squirmy feelings of mistrust. When this is the order of the day, many a year and decade, all is lost. Trust is everything and without it, everything is nothing. Can we restore it? Is it necessary to be restored if we want to go forward? Who can bring us to that state of truth and trust? Our future, Lasana is totally dependent on this component, “TRUST”, being brought to life, not just in football but, in our nation, and as we can see, the world. But, as the proverb, I believe to be Chinese, says, “every journey begins with a single step” – let the process begin and the making of the product would have begun.
      I challenge you Lasana, to bring our readership and step-by-step, nation, to that point of TRUTH in their lives. We NEED it and should you decide to branch off somewhat to incorporate this item of TRUTH and TRUST as a specific goal, PLEASE consider me in. TRUST or RUST!

  5. I think it’s a challenge for the administration to raise funds because of the distrust by the corporate sector and public at large. For that reason, football needs an administrative overhaul.

  6. Every time I see them I think of The disaster they put the players of the 2006 World Cup Team through.

  7. These guys are a bunch of posers.

  8. They have to fire all those guys they are doing nothing for Trinidad and Tobago football.

  9. Ah boy Brent. I was just about to ask how hard can it or should it really be to administer football.

  10. Maybe frustration got the best of him or he strategically decided on calling them out at this time. Who knows but what we do know is that our football administration leaves a lot to be desired.

  11. Hannibal Najjar

    What are we sulking about – the globe is in disarray? Excellence or the pursuit of excellence is a thing of the past. It is now as it is has been said by Jack Warner, “yesterday is yesterday, and today is today”; as Bill Clinton once articulated,, I do what is right not what is good (referring to his political decision-making and future); and as President “BO” has shown to be ever-evolving. There are no more standards or excellence, no measuring sticks, no brand damage or reputation management. The world is in support of the most savvy not being caught regardless of incident. C’est la vie; ISWIS – It Is What It is!
    Hide from man, but never from God and that is why I demand of myself this – remaining faithful especially when no one is looking, my commitment, raised and in red, on my business cards.

  12. When is the TTFA elections? I just hope the clubs are ready to vote them out….

  13. Over the last couple months, Brian Lewis has always been extremely guarded. With all the issues that this U-23 team had, I called him repeatedly.
    Maybe he felt it was time to make a statement.

  14. The continued ineptitude is astounding!

  15. Chalk and cheese when it comes to administrators of organisations here. At least someone else other than the normal people brought up part of the problem in TTFF

  16. I am surprised that Brian Lewis aired this publicly but then again everybody looking for air time. This should have been handled behind closed doors…

    • It’s a non-issue, a minor breach of diplomacy at best. Under ideal circumstances the TTFA would have reached out and say “look, there’s a potential situation developing, but we are working on resolving it. I just wanted to give you a heads up so that if you get wind of it, it won’t be from anyone other than me first.” But we don’t live in an ideal world, sometimes when you’re busy putting out fires (which they appeared to successfully do in this case) then diplomacy and protocol become casualties. Hardly the stuff of the tempest Lewis trying to turn it into… let alone the fodder for a standalone article.

    • Na..that is the problem with this damn country..everything is always covert and underneath..we want transparency..and we want to know! Nobody want’s to be held accountable..Enough of that crap! Hasn’t helped us then..not helping us now..It’s only when people know that they can be named and shamed that they will get their act together! Nuff respect Brian Lewis!! At least he has some cohones!

  17. Not surprised.. jokers are running our football …

  18. Can’t wait to see the back of these fellas they overdoing it man, steupes

  19. What you want me to say again eh? Some on this forum have a soft spot for these fellas but Phillips is Tim Kee’s caddy.

  20. Apparently one can follow protocol when it applies to international bodies but cannot follow protocols when it applies to our own countrymen and organisations. The time for the TTFA President in office has expired in June. No-one is questioning this borrowed time. An already demoted The General Secretary should be happy to be collecting a salary for the next few months because the President is getting a pat on the shoulder for doing well form John Public. They should leave office with an interim committee in place and enough time for stakeholders to iron out the kinks of the new system. Lewis is right. If his general secretary did this to TTFA……People must know their place and excuses are irrelevant. I’m sure that there must be a imminent public apology ahead.