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The TTFA will chart its own course—in private! DJW snubs questions on controversy

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams refused to respond to questions on an alleged training ground incident with “Soca Warriors” head coach Stephen Hart, issues raised by National Futsal Team coach Clayton Morris or even to reveal when technical director Muhammad Isa started work at the local football body.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (far right) holds court with (from left) TTFA interim general secretary Azaad Khan, president David John-Williams, technical committee member Muhammad Isa and TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis in December 2015. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (far right) holds court with (from left) TTFA interim general secretary Azaad Khan, president David John-Williams, technical committee member Muhammad Isa and TTFA vice-president Ewing Davis in December 2015.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

In a bizarre, impromptu questions and answers segment at the Hyatt Regency hotel, John-Williams carefully chose the queries he wished to respond to; and promised to deal with the others, via press releases, “at the appropriate time.”

“Let me just tell you this,” John-Williams told Wired868, “the TTFA has decided not to conduct its business in public.

“The TTFA has decided that we will chart the course how we want to go. And we will not be puppets.”

It was John-Williams’ first press conference since he was elected as TTFA president on 29 November 2015; and he was not keen on fielding questions.

Shanghai Group of Companies (SGC) CEO Michael Tang—whose company arranged the June 3 exhibition match between the Trinidad and Tobago and China National Senior Teams and paid the TTFA TT$600,000 fee to sport its logo at the event—suggested to Wired868, prior to the press conference, that the TTFA was responsible for the fact that there was no Q&A segment in the event.

Still, John-Williams was cornered by local sport reporters after the event and was generous enough with his time. But only for questions he approved of.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (right) presents a Wired868 token of appreciation to "Soca Warriors" supporter Peter Cumberbatch during the 4th Annual Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC Grounds, St Augustine on Saturday 2 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (right) presents a Wired868 token of appreciation to “Soca Warriors” supporter Peter Cumberbatch during the 4th Annual Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC Grounds, St Augustine on Saturday 2 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Wired868 asked him to explain a training ground incident at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday morning when he allegedly asked Hart and his technical staff to leave their own session and asked the footballers to overrule their coach’s decision to snub a practice match against Equatorial Guinea.

The Warriors are already booked to travel to Peru, Uruguay and China for three matches within the space of 12 days—the team will cross 11 time zones just to get to Qin Huang Dao in China.

Hart admitted that the TTFA requested a fourth game and did not deny the training ground incident. But—possibly sensitive to the ramifications with his boss, the TTFA president—he asked the media to restrict their question to technical matters.

“There were discussions about a fourth game, yes,” said Hart. “Listen, that sort of situation, I don’t want to talk about right now. Because I don’t want any situation to affect the squad.

“Let’s focus on the technical part of the football.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

John-Williams certainly had no intention of explaining his training ground behaviour to the public.

“I am only talking about positive things today, Lasana,” said the TTFA president. “So don’t ask me those questions.”

John-Williams suggested to the media that, somehow, his refusal to answer question was actually an honourable position.

“We as an administration won’t conduct our business in public,” he said. “We conduct our business quietly. My philosophy is: he who moves quietly moves the furthest.

“There will be a time and place for everything… When we need to report to the public, we will so do.”

He was similarly dismissive about the National Futsal Team, who were sent to Costa Rica with US$10 per diem and asked to leave their hotel on their penultimate day on tour—because the TTFA had not booked their accommodation—only to be rescued by late manoeuvring by the local football body.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team poses for a photograph before their CONCACAF Play Off match against Honduras in May 2016. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal Team poses for a photograph before their CONCACAF Play Off match against Honduras in May 2016.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

“There is a lot to be said about the Futsal tour and it is going to be made in a press release,” said John-Williams. “There is a lot to report about that. More than beyond the tour. And I just want to leave it at that for the moment.”

Newly appointed TTFA technical director Muhammad Isa, who replaced the controversial sacked Kendall Walkes, was at the press conference too. John-Williams acknowledged that Isa was appointed on a short-term basis—until the TTFA advertises for the position—but he refused to say when they would begin looking for a replacement, or when the incumbent took up his position in the first place.

“There is going to be a press release Mr Lasana Liburd,” he said. “I said there is going to be a press release. We do not conduct our business in public.

“And we will speak at the appropriate time.”

John-Williams refused to guarantee whether the football body will field questions from the public when it did choose to issue a statement.

Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates with "Soca Warriors" fans after his double set a 3-2 World Cup qualifying win over St Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates with “Soca Warriors” fans after his double set a 3-2 World Cup qualifying win over St Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Wired868: And will we be able to ask questions after reading these press releases? Or are we just recorders?

David John-Williams: Lasana, let me just tell you this. The TTFA has decided not to conduct its business in public. The TTFA has decided that we will chart the course how we want to go. And we will not be puppets. I will tell you this: the TTFA will be responsible in its reporting and the TTFA will not conduct its business in public as previous administrations.

Wired868: And will the TTFA respond to questions from the public?

DJW: If it so desires, we will do.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and new FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and new FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the TTFA headquarters on 27 January 2016.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

(Partial transcript of media Q&A with TTFA president David John-Williams)

Wired868: Can I ask about an incident on the training ground this week?

David John-Williams: I am only talking about positive things today Lasana. So don’t ask me those questions.

Wired868: This is your press conference and there wasn’t even a questions and answers (segment), so we can’t ask you anything about football?

DJW: No. We are talking about a celebration this morning.

Reporter: Having cleared your name with FIFA with the audit and so on, does it make the TTFA more attractive to sponsors like these?

DJW: Of course. Things have changed at FIFA, things have changed in world football. You have to be more transparent. You have to be more accountable. The TTFA has been fortunate to produce audited financial statements. It is the first time it has happened in maybe 10, 12 years. So we are now compliant with FIFA. We are accessing FIFA funding now and that is important for the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago.

Wired868: How can you talk about transparency when you are not answering questions from the press on issues regarding football?

DJW: Any other questions gentlemen?

Photo: TTFA president and W Connection founder David John-Williams.
Photo: TTFA president and W Connection founder David John-Williams.

Reporter: (Inaudible question).

DJW: We as an administration won’t conduct our business in public. We conduct our  business quietly. My philosophy is he who moves quietly moves the furthest. There will be a time and place for everything… When we need to report to the public we will so do.

Reporter: The reported (training ground) incident, is there any truth to it at all?

DJW: Let’s just talk about what is today. If you care to know the truth of it, why not ask the alleged victim? (…) There will be a press release by the end of today with regards to what it is allegedly happened. I just want to tell you that.

Wired868: Who else is on the travelling party to China apart from the players and the coaching staff?

DJW: We haven’t decided who is on the travelling party.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Khaleem Hyland, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus and Sheldon Bateau celebrate their 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Guatemala on 13 November 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Khaleem Hyland, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus and Sheldon Bateau celebrate their 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Guatemala on 13 November 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Reporter: (Inaudible question).

DJW: Gentlemen, there will be a press release in due course on the questions that you are asking.

Reporter: Can you confirm that Muhammad Isa is the technical director?

DJW: Muhammad Isa is the choice of the board, temporarily, as the technical director.

Reporter: Temporarily is how long?

DJW: We are going to advertise the position. There will be an official press release as regards to that.

Reporter: Was his filling the position to fulfil the FIFA requirements (for funding)?

DJW: It is part of the arrangement. Yes.

Wired868: When was Isa appointed as technical director?

DJW: There is going to be a press release Mr Lasana Liburd. I said there is going to be a press release. We do not conduct our business in public. And we will speak at the appropriate time.

Reporter: Following up on this tour, we know the campaign resumes in September. Anything you want to shed light on in terms of further engagement for the team?

DJW: I have spoken to Stephen Hart about a possible friendly international locally here on the 27th of August. The teams we have identified (are) Bahrain, Jordan, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico. And when Mr Hart comes back to me on his choice of the team, we will make an announcement then.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Wired868: This is the first time that you are answering questions in six months, is it that the national football (body’s) business isn’t the public’s business anymore?

DJW: (Pause) No comment Lasana.

Reporter: (Inaudible question).

DJW: The Women’s Professional League was an initiative of the Ministry of Sport last year and not the TTFA. We do have plans to introduce a professional league. That is something that will take time. We have to look for sponsorship. We have to look for all sorts of stuff to go with that. But that was an initiative by the former Minister of Sport. We have not had talks with the Minister of Sport with regards to that. We understand it is hard economic times. But, yes, we want to look at a professional women’s league.

Wired868: What about the TTFA FA competition? Will there be one this year?

DJW: There will be an FA competition for 2016/2017. Yes.

Wired868: Any date?

DJW: One has to understand that this administration came into being on the 1st of December (2015), halfway into the football season and there were no plans for a FA Trophy. So we did not see any sense in having a FA Trophy and I said that there will be no FA Trophy this year. I think that the FA Trophy is the most prestigious tournament in the country and, over the years, the FA has been run with 32 teams. We feel the FA should be run by most of the teams taking part in football in Trinidad and Tobago. We are in the market for a sponsor for the FA Trophy (and) we want to make it bigger, brighter, so all the teams can participate.

Photo: W Connection owner David John-Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. John-Williams was elected as TTFA president in November 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection owner David John-Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
John-Williams was elected as TTFA president in November 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Reporter: The Futsal team went off to Costa Rica trying to earn a spot at the CONCACAF tournament—it didn’t go so well—what are your thoughts on that?

DJW: There is a lot to be said about the Futsal tour and it is going to be made in a press release. There is a lot to report about that. More than beyond the tour. And I just want to leave it at that for the moment.

Wired868: And will we be able to ask questions after reading these press releases? Or are we just recorders?

DJW: Lasana, let me just tell you this. The TTFA has decided not to conduct its business in public. The TTFA has decided that we will chart the course how we want to go. And we will not be puppets. I will tell you this: the TTFA will be responsible in its reporting and the TTFA will not conduct its business in public as previous administrations.

Wired868: And will the TTFA respond to questions from the public?

DJW: If it so desires, we will do.

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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75 comments

  1. I’m concerned about this guy. My instincts are not good at all.

    • Earl Best

      Seems to me your instincts are excellent if you’re “concerned about this guy.” It’s the prognosis that’s not good at all and many of us, including many of those who advocated for his election, are very uneasy about tomorrow.

  2. Lol. Transparency and accountability but in “private”. This is a whole new concept he invented.

  3. ……I’m waiting to hear from the new President supports who had rated him so high in terms of being a fair person and on transparency….just saying

  4. Hahahaha oh lawd doh hit the pensioners so hard nah Dion. Them really good yes

  5. so true cause most if. not all are a set of old geezers who power hungry and need 2 stay relevant rather than stepping aside and letting someone younger with new and fresh ideas take control and their old ass retire and play with their grandkids

  6. Rose-Marie Ingrid Lemessy-Forde, we are blessed with gifted athletes and cursed with dictatorial sport administrators.

    • Earl Best

      You forgot to mention that we are cursed with impotent conventional media but blessed with Wired868. Take a bow, Lasana. And remind DJW that the longest rope has an end.

  7. ….the want the Public support with Public position but wants to operate Privately….WOW!

  8. What is it about the TTFA that attracts persons like Jack Warner, Tim Kee and DJW?

    Why hasn’t this body been disbanded and or restructured? The Ministry of Sport continues to allow absolute folly from this Organisation over the years, and has done little to nothing to addressing the problems.

    I think DJW went to the same leadership school as Dave Cameron, the WICB and the TTFA seem to have so much in common.

    Lastly, on what day does the TTFA field ‘negative’ questions, will it be on Thursdays (curry day), or Monday(leftovers day), or Friday (Mano’s or Pancho’s day)?

  9. Positive change? Really…who is he kidding,,.not us! We as fans can make the change.

  10. plus ça change plus c’est la même chose

  11. Like de man go start slapping journalists next time? Bwda?

  12. They cannot help themselves Bruce Aanensen because this is where they comes from eh. Them really good yes

  13. Just amazing how power changes people. Can they not understand that sport belongs to the people and not administrators?

  14. He forgets what TTFF stands for,, without the public, he will fail.

  15. Gerard, I was gonna suggest fans start boycotting matches and see if he gets the message eh

  16. TTFF will chart its own course in private but he’s asking for public funds and public support. If social media can force a mayor to resign, who does this chump think he is?

  17. Lasana looking for a next ban

  18. I now see the interview on tv6 the man just dismiss you lasana

  19. I see we now have a major sponsor SCG Caribbean? Any light to be shed on this?

  20. Lol lol. Lasana – I’m surprised DJW didn’t tell you to “ask yuh mother” with your persistent questions. ???

  21. Lasana, yuh head hard or wha? Everything will be revealed in de fullness of time.

  22. not only you carlos lee but many people are so sorry they lobbied for this idiot is a good thing I don’t work for the ttfa so I don’t have 2 deal with him at anytime

  23. Haha lawd good one Michael Morris

  24. Maybe we can set up a DeathMatch of some sort between the TTGF, the TTFA, WICBC and the IRO. Winner gets to marry an 11 yr old girl.

  25. First Cameron, then Lue Shue, now this man … I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to sports, we are f@$ked.

  26. Another fool to embarrass the country in sport!! Where do they find these ignorant people??

  27. Where they found this fool?! ? .. His arrogance

  28. This TTFA president is sick. One arrogant bastard. Another Mugabe in the making. I regret the fact that I pushed for his climb to the helm of football in TNT. Lasana – I could only imagine how frustrating an event that must have been. DJW has no idea what the terms transparency and accountability means. I guarantee you that Hart’s days are numbered.

  29. Keep at his pompous, overbearing, deceptive ass….. he thinks this is a capitalistic state ….this not those times and we are not blind. Tub of wasted cow manure.

  30. Where do we find all these a$$holes?

  31. You know how it is with everybody’s little fiefdom….if it isn’t Pan Trinbago, it’s Boxing association, or Gymnastics Association, TTFA. TnT associations are d worse!!

  32. I guess with FIFA funding now, they don’t need to be transparent to the other stakeholders. Have we ever had a press release from the TTFA?

  33. Narada Anthony talk to me. Allyuh cool wid dis? Cuzzzzz…..

  34. Observe an example of the Trinidad and Tobago elected leader in his glory…

  35. Jack reincarnated?? Will wait and see.

  36. Another potential scandal ‘silently’ brewing in the wings! I patiently await…

  37. *squints* *contemplates* #boutstonewall

  38. The quintessential Trinidad and Tobago leader in microcosm…

  39. Scotty Ranking

    So, by DJW’s own admission, his intentional bypassing of the coach to approach the players about a fourth friendly match that the coach had already NOT assented to is in fact a negative thing!

    Many makes Tim Kee look like the competent and responsive alternative, yes. The quicker he goes back to running W Connection (where he can truly be Emperor, Lord and Master) the better for the local administration of football!