Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams announced today, via a press release, that the local football body has had its internal audits approved by FIFA and is now set to access funding from the international body again.
FIFA offers a developmental grant of US$250,000 a year to member associations, although they must provide audited statements and have a technical director employed to access it. Newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised to increase that grant to US$1.25 million during his election campaign, earlier this year.
John-Williams suggested that the TTFA now satisfies FIFA’s criteria for funding while he also claimed that the local body paid off its debt to former Women’s National Senior and Youth Team coach Even Pellerud yesterday.
The final sum was given as US$160,146. However, the TTFA did not reveal whether they raised the funds themselves, benefited from a grant or if FIFA had deducted the figure from money due to the local body and paid it themselves.
The “Soca Warriors” would have been prevented from participating in the FIFA 2022 World Cup if the financial issue was not settled.
“The Pellerud debt is out of the way, we started to address (former technical director) Anton Corneal’s situation,” said John-Williams, “and, most importantly, we have done the audits so that the TTFA is now compliant with FIFA funding rules. So we can access FIFA funds again.
“Every day we receive new letters from old debts but we continue to ask for patience and understanding from our creditors as we strive to clear our debt.”
John-Williams did not mention his former technical director Kendall Walkes, who he fired on March 2016, or his replacement. Walkes has already initiated legal action against the TTFA and has strongly criticised the actions of the current football president.
Club Sando technical director Muhammed Isa has been tipped as Walkes’ successor and the TTFA cannot access FIFA funding until a technical director has been appointed.
However, the TTFA president has refused to confirm whether Isa was selected or even if the local football body has a technical director at all.
There was no mention either as to where the money was sourced to pay the Pellerud debt, although John-Williams did stress that the TTFA has been able to manoeuvre financially without using taxpayers’ funds—even though his administration is yet to announce a sponsorship deal of note.
The Warriors have lined three overseas friendlies against Peru, Uruguay and China on May 23, 27 and June 3 respectively. And, unlike under his predecessor Raymond Tim Kee, John-Williams promised to get the National Senior Team there and back without financial help from the Ministry of Sport.
“We have arranged three high level international matches without asking Government for one cent to fund them,” said John-Williams “The opponents we have lined up should make the national coach (Stephen Hart) very happy. With us missing out on Copa America Centenario, there was a need for quality warm up games.
“The fact that we have been able to negotiate the trips without being a burden on tax payers brings a certain level of pride to our efforts.”
The Warriors’ contests against Peru and Uruguay both fall outside the FIFA international match window, which means Hart could potentially be forced to face Uruguay—the ninth highest ranked team in the world—with mostly Pro League players.
John-Williams said the TTFA is also trying to raise funding for its other football programmes.
“While the National Men’s Senior team is the focus of attention, within the next few months, we want to do some very big things for women’s football, youth football and coach education,” said the TTFA president. “Thus the TTFA is currently engaging some major sponsors to address the whole question of youth development on a national scale.
“Football provides a positive, alternative for the development of our youth, male and female, not just as players but also as fully rounded citizens.”
He said that, despite the TTFA’s debts, he believes the local football body is on its way to self-sufficiency.
“We met a number of financial arrangements, without documentation to support the commitments,” said John-Williams, “but what baffled us the most was the absence of any projected income to sustain said commitments.
“While we welcome Government’s help we strongly believe football has the ability to sustain itself.”