Home / Volley / Global Football / DJW unplugged: An illegal TTFA election, tacit FIFA support and a CFU power grab 

DJW unplugged: An illegal TTFA election, tacit FIFA support and a CFU power grab 

The world governing football body, FIFA, stands accused of complicity in the rise of an allegedly illegitimately elected football president from Trinidad and Tobago with overarching ambitions.

FIFA handed former vice-president, Jack Warner, a life ban for attempting to rig its 2011 presidential elections. And the disgraced ex-football official is now fighting off an extradition request from the United States for racketeering and other corrupt practices.

Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort after an extradition hearing. (Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)
Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort after an extradition hearing.
(Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)

But Trinidad and Tobago football’s new bigwig, David John-Williams—who appears to have the quiet support of FIFA, UEFA and CONCACAF for his anticipated Caribbean Football Union (CFU) presidential bid—is himself facing questions about the legitimacy of his ascension to the role of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president.

And worse, FIFA observers are charged with knowingly allowing the farce and turning a deaf ear to subsequent complaints which could have a profound effect on a nation still trying to pick itself up from the financial and moral carnage of Warner’s era.

In short, at least 11 of the 45 delegates at the TTFA’s 29 November 2015 election—but, almost certainly, many more—were ineligible to vote according to article 10.2 of the TTFA constitution, which states that:

Any legal person wishing to become a Member shall apply in writing to the General Secretariat. The application must be accompanied by the following mandatory items:

A copy of its legally valid constitution and regulations, which shall comply with the requirements of the Constitution; […] a copy of the minutes of its last General Meeting or constitutional meeting and a copy of its audited financial statements for the previous financial year.

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

Article 13, entitled “Members’ Obligations”, further states that members have the following obligations:

To comply fully with the Statutes, regulations, directives and decisions of FIFA, CONCACAF, CFU and TTFA at all times and to ensure that these are also respected by its Members;

To ensure the election of the members of its decision-making bodies (at least every four years); […] to observe the mandatory items specified under article 10 paragraph 2 for the duration of their affiliation.

The TTFA constitution was adopted and ratified on 12 July 2015 by an Independent Reform Commission (IRC) that included: former West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) president and Test cricketer Dinanath Ramnarine, attorney Elton Prescott SC, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis, archivist Patrick Raymond, former 2006 World Cup player Shaka Hislop, Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) executive member Dr Sheila Rampersad, former referees’ head Osmond Downer, and Raoul John.

Ramnarine was named to head the TTFA’s electoral committee, which also included Lewis and attorney Mervyn Campbell. They had four and a half months to get the TTFA’s 47 delegates—the coaches’ association and players association were both dormant and did not participate—ready for the election.

Photo: Former World Cup 2006 standout Shaka Hislop now works as an analyst for global sport channel, ESPN.
Photo: Former World Cup 2006 standout Shaka Hislop now works as an analyst for global sport channel, ESPN.

Three months later, on 10 October 2015, Lewis withdrew and was replaced by Prescott. Remarkably, the committee had not held a single meeting by then.

At that point, there were only 10 days left to guide 47 delegates through the new TTFA constitution, advise them on adjusting their own constitutions, get their audited financial statements and other necessary paperwork for them to be compliant in time for the 20 October 2015 deadline.

The TTFA electoral committee apparently believed that it had a “get out of jail” card.

Article 83, “Transitory period”:

Existing members shall be granted a transitional period of […] 18 months to submit the documents and declarations required in art 10 par 2 of this constitution. Failure to comply with this obligation may lead to the suspension of that member.

The electoral committee interpreted this to mean that delegates did not need to be compliant with article 10.2 of the TTFA constitution to vote at the 29 November election.

Photo: Former TTFA president and ex-Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Women's World Cup Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former TTFA president and ex-Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

On 18 October, two days before the deadline for confirming candidates and delegates for the election, Ramnarine—on behalf of the electoral committee—advised TTFA’s members accordingly, via email:

[…] The Electoral Committee will (sic) like to remind all 49 members that they shall be granted a transitional period of 18 months to submit the documents and declarations as required in the approved TTFA Constitution. Failure to comply with this obligation may lead to the suspension of that member. For the avoidance of doubt, the 18 month period starts from 12 July 2015. The TTFA has committed to a process of assisting all members in an effort to achieve compliance within the time frame.

But there were several problems here.

First, FIFA never intended for members who were not compliant with the constitution to be afford voting rights.

On 23 October 2014, FIFA head of member associations Primo Corvaro, who was instrumental in the approval of the new TTFA constitution, said as much in a press conference that Ramnarine attended:

Photo: FIFA head of member associations Primo Corvaro.
Photo: FIFA head of member associations Primo Corvaro.

Once you have adopted the statutes of the constitution at the TTFA level then you will have to work at the membership level as well. Each full member will need to have their own constitution, the same for the group of interests, the same for the zones. And that’s another challenge because they must be properly constituted before the election.

Because on the day of the election, we want people who have been constituted in the presence of [the] electoral commission according to a constitution which is in conformity with the TTFA constitution, which in itself is in conformity with the FIFA statutes.

The “Transitory Period” referenced in article 83 was not included in the TTFA constitution. The electoral committee ought to have known this since a committee member sent Wired868 a copy of the draft constitution on 6 July 2015 that already had a red line through the clause. It was inserted as an annex instead.

On 13 October 2015, then TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips emailed Corvaro and requested “clarification on the Transitory Provision Annex for members.”

“Once our membership receives a definitive answer from FIFA on the above listed items,” stated Phillips, “our AGM will be better positioned to take place without unnecessary procedural challenges.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (centre) holds off Nicaragua midfielder Elvis Figueroa during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 October 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (centre) holds off Nicaragua midfielder Elvis Figueroa during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 October 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Ramnarine did not appreciate Phillip’s query and, on 17 October 2015, told the TTFA general secretary that his committee—and not FIFA—would determine what happened at the 29 November elections.

“My suggestion is that all concerns raised in this matter should be referred to the electoral committee and not FIFA,” stated Ramnarine in an email that was copied to Campbell, Prescott and incumbent president Raymond Tim Kee. “As you are aware at the last TTFA general meeting where the TTFA constitution was adopted by the general council, they appointed an electoral committee to handle all matters related to the TTFA AGM and elector of officers.

“I am reminding you of that decision and kindly asking that you be guided by that decision and process.”

At 1:53pm on 18 October, Phillips responded to Ramnarine, Prescott and Campbell and insisted that the transitory provision was not included in the constitution. Regardless, Ramnarine emailed the TTFA’s potential delegates four hours later and insisted that the clause was valid.

On 20 October 2015, FIFA acting general secretary Markus Kattner—and not Corvaro—responded by fax on behalf of the world governing body, and his response was clear:

Photo: FIFA acting general secretary Markus Kattner.
Photo: FIFA acting general secretary Markus Kattner.

We acknowledge receipt of [your] letter dated 13 October 2015 with regard to the transitory provisions of the constitution of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and we have duly taken note of its content.

The issue of compliance with article 10.2 was discussed during the adoption of the constitution and in our understanding, all members as listed in the TTFA constitution must comply with article 10.2 in order to take part in the elections; and those failing to do so will still have 18 months from the date of the adoption to complete the process or lose definitively their membership.

It was understood that it would be much easier to achieve it with the clubs (through basic statutes which could be improved at a further stage) than regional associations or groups of interest.

We hope that we have been of assistance and feel free to contact us should you have any further query.

It was the deadline day for the confirmation of delegates and candidates and more than half of the potential delegates were invalid. If the election did not come off, FIFA already vowed to dissolve the TTFA’s executive committee—or board of directors—and put a normalisation committee in place to run local football until the mess could be cleared up.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (left) rolls the ball through the legs of United Staes captain Michael Bradley during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (left) rolls the ball through the legs of United Staes captain Michael Bradley during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Kattner’s suggestion that clubs might find it be easier to be declared compliant was also a major blow to the incumbent president.

Tim Kee believed that his strength lay with the regional bodies. John-Williams, the president of Pro League club, W Connection, was expected to have support from other teams.

With the entire electoral set-up in disarray, Tim Kee acted swiftly. He sacked Phillips.

The football president hinted that Phillips’ dismissal was due to an embarrassing interview in the Trinidad Guardian two days earlier in which the general secretary was quoted—incorrectly—as saying that Tim Kee had the full support of his executive.

In truth, Tim Kee was deeply unpopular and the story brought an immediate and humiliating public response from the TTFA vice-presidents.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association vice president Lennox Watson insisted that he did not support president Raymond Tim Kee. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association vice president Lennox Watson insisted that he did not support president Raymond Tim Kee.
(Courtesy Wired868)

But maybe there was a clue in the TTFA’s media statement, which said Phillips was dismissed for his “failure to adhere to directives regarding the operational activities of the FA.”

Phillips told Wired868 he was convinced that Tim Kee sacked him due to his meddling in the machinations of the electoral committee.

Further, the general secretary suspected that the Ramnarine-led committee was cherry picking which delegates received help in falling in line with the TTFA constitution. Although the electoral committee apparently did not meet formally until October, emailed correspondence suggested that they began meeting regional associations months earlier.

Phillips said he told Tim Kee in July 2015 that a significant portion of  TTFA members were in danger of being disenfranchised due to the approach of the electoral committee. He claimed that his advice and warnings were ignored.

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

I observed that members of the electoral committee [were] only engaging regional associations rather than all TTFA members in providing assistance to ensure members were compliant with the new constitution and FIFA directives…

The second concern was the pace in (sic) which the committee was operating made it difficult to logistically improbable to meet the directives of FIFA as well as statutory deadlines… As a result, several candidates were improperly nominated by non-compliant members.

The third and final event that directly led to my letter to FIFA was a report from several TTFA members that electoral committee members were advising TTFA members they didn’t have to be compliant with the new constitution in order to participate in the AGM  and election. This information given by the committee was, of course, incorrect and counter to clearly defined statutes within the TTFA constitution. In my view, if clarification was not established the election, AGM, and the legal status of the TTFA would be jeopardy.”

Wired868 asked the electoral committee members why they persevered with the election although many of the delegates were not properly constituted and should not have been allowed to vote for the TTFA president.

Ramnarine declined the opportunity to comment but his former colleagues gave their accounts.

Photo: Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer Raymond Tim Kee, who is a member of the FIFA Futsal Committee, tries out the furniture at the FIFA's Zurich headquarters.
Photo: Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer Raymond Tim Kee, who is a member of the FIFA Futsal Committee, tries out the furniture at the FIFA’s Zurich headquarters.

Campbell said Paula Chester-Cumberbatch, who acted as interim general secretary until the elections after Phillips’ dismissal, was the only person who could say conclusively which delegates were compliant with the TTFA constitution.

The attorney suggested that they carried on with the elections for the greater good of the local game, despite the constitutional issues:

As far as I remember, there were one or two areas [of concern]. But the whole body agreed with what was being done for the purpose of getting through the election. So it wasn’t something that was done arbitrarily.

The new rules were followed but they were not squeaky clean or precise in everything. There might have been a little grey in it. But everyone agreed to go with it and it was a fair process to all and sundry.

Prescott, a senior counsel, said that the electoral committee was satisfied the rules were followed.

“My recollection is too poor to give you anything concrete,” Prescott told Wired868. “But we were satisfied that everyone there was properly there. In the month of the election, the electoral committee met twice or maybe three times; and on one of those occasions, we were assured that the delegates had satisfied the criteria to vote.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus (right) grapples with Peru full back Miguel Trauco during a friendly international at the National Stadium in Lima on 23 May 2016.  Peru won 4-0. (Copyright Ernesto Benavides/AFP 2016/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus (right) grapples with Peru full back Miguel Trauco during a friendly international at the National Stadium in Lima on 23 May 2016. 
Peru won 4-0.
(Copyright Ernesto Benavides/AFP 2016/Wired868)

Wired868 asked who had given such an assurance about the eligibility of the TTFA delegates.

“At best, I would say Paula Chester,” said Prescott, who is also the leading counsel for the TTOC. “Dinanath had telephoned her…”

Ramnarine had made it clear to the previous general secretary that the electoral committee would not be dictated to by him or even FIFA. Did he have a change of heart and suddenly begin taking directions from Phillips’ temporary replacement?

Chester-Cumberbatch said she didn’t offer assurances to anyone but merely tried to assist the electoral committee however she could.

“They were the ones who were in charge of all the proceedings and correspondence,” Chester-Cumberbatch told Wired868. “I simply compiled information. And remember, the process started before I came in.

“I was only there for the last three weeks.”

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago substitutes' bench looks on as right back Daneil Cyrus (left) prepares to take a throw during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago substitutes’ bench looks on as right back Daneil Cyrus (left) prepares to take a throw during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

The former interim general secretary admitted that some of the delegates who voted on 29 November were ineligible according to article 10.2. But she also, erroneously, suggested that the transitory clause allowed them to take part:

Decisions were taken to ensure there was full participation at the AGM. Collectively, everyone agreed that we needed the election and people were reminded they had 18 months to get things in order. Some of them had their elections and presented their revised constitutions to the TTFA. But of course there was a lot of work to be done to help the clubs in particular to get their things in order… We wanted to ensure that the election was conducted.

Whose decision was it to go forward with the election regardless?

“That would have been a TTFA decision,” said Chester-Cumberbatch. “The electoral body would have made a proposal and [the TTFA] would have agreed. Mr Tim Kee would be the best person to say what was agreed.”

Wired868 could not reach Tim Kee for comment. But former TTFA vice-president Rudolph Thomas concurred with Chester-Cumberbatch.

Photo: Former Port of Spain mayor and ex-Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) enjoys some conversation at the 2014 FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Copyright TTFA Media)
Photo: Former Port of Spain mayor and ex-Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) enjoys some conversation at the 2014 FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

If the football president wanted the election to take place because he fancied his chances and saw the prospect of a normalisation committee as a damning indictment on his leadership, his vice-president had a different reason. He was anxious to be rid of Tim Kee:

I don’t think it was a formal thing. If I remember well—when we were protesting some of the things the president and general secretary were doing—we clearly indicated that, despite the fact that the constitution was not being followed by the letter of the law, we were in favour of the elections coming off. At that point in time, anything but [Tim Kee] was the sentiment.

Not everyone was as cavalier about the violation of rules.

John-Williams sent a string of emails to the electoral committee on 19, 20, 21, 22 and 29 October, which complained about the flaws in the process. Among other things, the candidate was uneasy about the lack of a voter list and the possibility of ineligible bodies.

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 on 29 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 on 29 November 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
[…] I also take note of the ‘grace period’ of 18 months being granted to member bodies to get their ‘house in order’, thus possibly allowing them to be eligible to vote in the elections, [which] is of concern to us. It is public knowledge that several of these member bodies mentioned in the new constitution are non-functional or have not been full members of the TTFA.

It is critical in the circumstances that all the candidates are duly furnished at least 30 days prior to the elections with a list of the delegates who are eligible to vote on 29 November 2015.

John-Williams had good reason to be concerned too.

Tim Kee sent Geoffrey Edwards an email that addressed him as “Futsal president”, which allowed him and another delegate, Nigel Roberts, to vote without the newly formed body ever holding an election.

And the TTFA’s marketing officer, Kyle Lequay, was similarly declared the president of Beach Soccer without the inconvenience of an election.

FIFA’s authority was being ignored.

Photo: Geoffrey Edwards was declared Futsal Association president in 2015 although the body was never formally set up, never held an election and does not have a constitution. (Courtesy Geoffrey Edwards)
Photo: Geoffrey Edwards was declared Futsal Association president in 2015 although the body was never formally set up, never held an election and does not have a constitution.
(Courtesy Geoffrey Edwards)

On 5 November 2015, FIFA acting deputy general secretary Marco Villiger took a turn at bringing sanity to the TTFA’s electoral proceedings.

[…] We kindly ask you to update us on the current situation. As stated in the transitory provisions of the new constitution, the TTFA members not complying with article 10.2 will not be allowed to participate in the elections. In consequence, we would like to know how many members are already compliant and how many more you expect in order to asses the approximate number of delegates who will participate in the TTFA elections.

We would also appreciate if you can brief us on the electoral process and more specifically on the deadlines leading to the 29 November 2015 elections and the work of the electoral committee. We thank you in advance to provide us with a report at your earliest convenience.

The electoral committee met later that day. But they were not for turning.

On 6 November, Ramnarine emailed the TTFA’s delegates and misrepresented FIFA’s position on the transitory clause while suggesting that its absence from the the constitution was an error.

Photo: National League Representatives (NLR) member, ex-WIPA president and TTFA electoral committee member Dinanath Ramnarine. (Courtesy RJRNewsonline)
Photo: National League Representatives (NLR) member, ex-WIPA president and TTFA electoral committee member Dinanath Ramnarine.
(Courtesy RJRNewsonline)

The Electoral Committee held a meeting on November 5, 2015, during which the following decision was approved for issuance to all members of the TTFA.

1. FIFA mandated there should  be an 18 month provision for compliance with the Constitution this was agreed to at the AGM on 12 July 2015.

2. That provision was inadvertently omitted from the Constitution.

3. Pursuant to the above an 18 month transitionary period for compliance was given by the Electoral Committee becoming effective from 12 July 2015 and was circulated 18 October 2015.

4. Compliance before the election to be held on the 29 November is not practicable.

5. To date no member has complied.

6. Nominations were closed as at midnight 20 October 2015.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Mekeil Williams, Ataulla Guerra, Joevin Jones, Sheldon Bateau and Radanfah Abu Bakr look on during their penalty shoot out with Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Mekeil Williams, Ataulla Guerra, Joevin Jones, Sheldon Bateau and Radanfah Abu Bakr look on during their penalty shoot out with Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

The TTFA electoral committee had essentially overruled FIFA.

Ramnarine then attempted to dictate terms to the TTFA executive committee as he announced that the electoral committee passed a resolution to hold a special general meeting of the football body at 9am on 20 November 2015 to address: abridging notice period to have such a Meeting; discuss and agree interim measures to go forward with elections; and waive 18 month provision for compliance.

The electoral committee’s resolution provoked a withering response from TTFA vice-president Krishendath Kuarsingh:

In my humble opinion, this resolution is of no consequence for the following reasons: (i) There is no provision in the TTFA’s Constitution for the convening of a Special General Meeting; (ii) Your Committee does not have any authority to convene such a meeting…

Secondly, there seems to be some serious misunderstanding with respect to the transitory provisions of the TTFA’s Constitution. Please refer to the attached letter from Mr Markus Kattner, Acting Secretary General of FIFA which is very clear on this matter.

Lastly, there are some erroneous statements in the referenced e-mail. As an example, you stated that, at point 5 of your e-mail: “To date no member has complied.” This statement is totally inaccurate, since the Regional Association, the Southern Football Association has notified the TTFA Secretariat of its nominee to the Board of Directors, adopted its upgraded Constitution and submitted its Delegates to the forthcoming AGM.

Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates with "Soca Warriors" fans after his double set up 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 up 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)

Apart from the Southern Football Association, the Eastern FA and Referees’ Association also submitted their paperwork early. But most of the other bodies were not fully compliant while a few did not tick any boxes at all.

But Kuarsingh, like almost everyone else, just wanted to have an election. Even as he chided the electoral committee for its perceived failure to satisfy the electoral code.

“Sir, I implore you and your electoral committee to honour its obligations without further delay,” stated Kuarsingh.

There was further complaint from Phillips to CONCACAF’s head of member associations and legal affairs, Hugo Leal. But no response.

And, on 29 November, Corvaro and fellow FIFA member associations representative Luca Nicola turned up at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain and watched John-Williams ascend to the position of TTFA president in a flawed election.

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)

“We are here as observers of the TTFA elections, so we are not taking any position on what happened,” said Nicola, after the presidential election. “We obviously take note of the election of the new incoming president Mr John-Williams and we congratulate him on being elected…”

At the same time, the FIFA presidential election campaign was in full swing with five candidates competing for the throne that was wrenched away from departed president Sepp Blatter.

On 27 January 2016, John-Williams broke ranks from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and declared support for Gianni Infantino.

“I was a bit surprised with the TTFA’s endorsement,” CFU president Gordon Derrick told Wired868, days later. “The idea was we are supposed to get together on the 12th of February in Miami where some candidates would be presenting themselves again. And we will then decide on who we support…

“In our discussions, the overtones from the meeting was we would discuss as a group, although there was no directive given.”

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)

John-Williams endorsement might not have strengthened the CFU’s position but it was a shrewd move on an individual level.

FIFA controversially barred Derrick from contesting the post of CONCACAF president on 12 May 2016—the decision is now before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)—and Canadian Victor Montagliani won the election instead. It broke the Caribbean’s 26 year monopoly of the top CONCACAF job.

Derrick accused John-Williams for campaigning on Montagliani’s behalf against another Caribbean delegate Larry Mussenden, who was the Bermuda FA president and former attorney general.

On 17 and 18 June 2016, John-Williams held an extraordinary meeting in Port of Spain. The TTFA president invited all 31 CFU presidents to a two-day seminar at the Marriott Hotel to discuss a Caribbean professional football league.

Montagliani confirmed that the meeting—inclusive of airfare and hotel accommodation—was funded by CONCACAF, UEFA and FIFA.

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

It was the first time that a Caribbean member association had ever held such an ambitious meeting. And a furious Derrick as well as CFU general secretary Neil Cochrane did not receive invitations.

The new FIFA, it would seem, wants its own men at the helm.

Wired868 asked Leal, Corvaro and the FIFA Media Department why the TTFA’s election result was allowed to stand despite the apparent electoral violations and FIFA’s own initial objections to the process.

CONCACAF’s legal department and member association head, Leal, was not inclined to share any problems he might have seen in the process.

“I inform you that FIFA would have to be contacted in order to get information regarding the matter,” said Leal.

The FIFA media department apparently heard no evil.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents then Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal. Dass was a Connection youth team player. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents then Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“According to our information, the elections held on 29 November 2015 involved members in compliance with the TTFA constitution,” stated a FIFA spokesman. “FIFA observed the elections and has not yet received any official complaints about the alleged irregularities.”

And Corvaro, who did not respond to his email but was tracked down by telephone, spoke no evil.

“For us, we observed the election, so the issue is over,” Corvaro told Wired868. “If you want to complain, use the judicial system. But, for us, it is over.”

Despite the assertion by the FIFA Media Department, there has already been at least one complaint about the TTFA election.

Defeated presidential candidate Ramesh Ramdhan, a former FIFA referee, wrote directly to Infantino, two weeks ago, to complain about the supposedly illegitimate election. By Ramdhan’s count, at least 11 of the 47 votes cast were invalid.

Photo: Former FIFA World Cup referee Ramesh Ramdhan.
Photo: Former FIFA World Cup referee Ramesh Ramdhan.

Despite the knowledge of the above constitutional breaches, the electoral committee felt it was more important to have an election rather than ensuring that members conformed with constitution, thereby giving rise to an unconstitutional Executive.

As a Presidential candidate, I am seeking the intervention of FIFA in this matter. I am confident that the new FIFA thrust to rebuild confidence in the organisation and your own stated objectives of transparency and accountability will get the attention this situation warrants.

It is also noteworthy that the President, who is the beneficiary of these constitutional breaches, endorsed your own candidacy very early in your campaign…

Thus far, neither Infantino nor anyone else at FIFA has responded.

It is left to be seen if Ramdhan, or anyone else, pursues the matter at FIFA level or beyond. In theory, a single TTFA board member can have the election result voided in local court according to article 135 of the Companies Act:

Photo: A court room gavel.
Photo: A court room gavel.

135. (1) A company or a shareholder or director thereof may apply to the Court to determine any controversy with respect to an election or appointment of a director or auditor of the company.

(2) Upon an application made under this section, the Court may make any order it thinks fit including—

(a) an order restraining a director or auditor whose election or appointment is challenged from acting, pending determination of the dispute;

(b) an order declaring the result of the disputed election or appointment;

(c) an order requiring a new election or appointment, and including in the order directions for the management of the business and affairs of the company until a new election is held, or appointment made; and

(d) an order determining the voting rights of shareholders and of persons claiming to own shares.

In the meantime, John-Williams, whose ruthless and secretive approach has already alarmed many football stakeholders, is seeking to consolidate his power within the Caribbean.

Photo: New FIFA president Gianni Infantino reacts after winning the FIFA presidential election during the extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich on 26 February 2016. (Copyright AFP 2016/Fabrice Coffrini)
Photo: New FIFA president Gianni Infantino reacts after winning the FIFA presidential election during the extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich on 26 February 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Fabrice Coffrini)

And, despite concerns about whether he is legally entitled to run the TTFA in the first place, a Trinidad and Tobago football official appears to have won the support of high friends within FIFA, who are willing to turn a blind eye to very obvious flaws in his make-up.

The more things change.

AboutLasana 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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99 comments

  1. Terence William Fenwick some people have face that should only be revealed past midnight.

  2. Business as usual inna Babylon!
    Liars and thieves, liars and thieves.????

  3. Don’t hold back, say what you mean Chandani. Lol

  4. One great positive is that we fired those thieving bastards known as the PP

    Now if only their ignorant sycophants would disappear.

  5. Excellent piece of investigative journalism. It appears that the 18 month transition period which was to apply to the adoption of the constitution was incorrectly interpreted to apply to the conduct of elections.

  6. Nothing positive happening?

  7. Governments cannot bring their national associations to heel but FIFA can take over and change the constitution. After all, we all know FIFA is synonymous with effective governance.

  8. The Bureau of the FIFA Council has today, 24 June 2016, decided to appoint a normalisation committee for the Argentine Football Association (AFA) in accordance with art. 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes. The committee will be in charge of running the daily affairs of the AFA, revising the AFA statutes in order to bring them in line with the current FIFA Standard Statutes, and organising elections accordingly by 30 June 2017 at the latest.

    The decision to appoint a normalisation committee comes after a joint FIFA and CONMEBOL mission visited Argentina earlier this month.

    There will be between five and seven members of this normalisation committee, and they will be identified by a joint FIFA and CONMEBOL mission to take place soon. The normalisation committee will act as an electoral committee and none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions.
    http://www.fifa.com/governance/news/y=2016/m=6/news=normalisation-committee-appointed-for-the-argentine-fa-2803547.html

  9. The Bureau of the FIFA Council has today, 24 June 2016, decided to appoint a normalisation committee for the Argentine Football Association (AFA) in accordance with art. 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes. The committee will be in charge of running the daily affairs of the AFA, revising the AFA statutes in order to bring them in line with the current FIFA Standard Statutes, and organising elections accordingly by 30 June 2017 at the latest.

    The decision to appoint a normalisation committee comes after a joint FIFA and CONMEBOL mission visited Argentina earlier this month.

    There will be between five and seven members of this normalisation committee, and they will be identified by a joint FIFA and CONMEBOL mission to take place soon. The normalisation committee will act as an electoral committee and none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions.
    (Kendall Tull, Chabeth Haynes)
    http://www.fifa.com/governance/news/y=2016/m=6/news=normalisation-committee-appointed-for-the-argentine-fa-2803547.html

    • I remember posting a story about them. They were a mess. Their election had more votes tallied than people who could vote. And nobody wanted to vote by show of hands.
      Can’t argue that they don’t need the help, but still curious to know how they voted in the FIFA elections.

  10. So normalisation committee in Argentine eh Mel Lissa? Hmmm. 🙂

  11. ttfa had a workshop a few weeks ago about training and solidarity compensation the man calling up my levi garcia nad keston julien name in stuff that he knows nothing about boss focus on running ttfa and leave my name out of your mouth

  12. Excellent article Lasana Liburd had to reread a number of times, so much information. One word, MADNESS….. What next? Where next? Who Next? There seems to be no one with any objectivity, FIFA, CONCACAF, even the Committee. A new elections? I am sure the legal criteria of membership is still not resolved…. I hope the relevant powers at be in FIFA and CONCACAF have noted this article.

    • One thing you can’t fool is the courts. They’re just bluffing with the hope that nobody takes them there.

    • Earl Best

      Precisely! This piece really needed to be served up in bite-size morsels rather than being force-fed to us all in one sitting. But it is rich in food for thought although I suspect that the TTFA president would disagree.

      I feel pretty sure he sees it as a personal attack on him, perhaps because, haha! he foolishly passed over my nomination for the post of General Secretary.

  13. Lots of great points here together with “you reap what you sow”, we are getting exactly what we deserve.

  14. Was only a matter of time before folks woke up and took stock of what happened last November, and the shenanigans which continue to play out. Tim Kee revealed his desperation when he gambled that sacking Phillips would appease the internal critics and swing the election in his favor.

    Rather than letting Phillips run the organization as a GS should have been allowed to do, he bristled at Phillips’ visibility in the media and sought as much as possible to keep his own hand involved in as much of the day-to-day running of the organization as he felt was necessary to perpetuate his own relevance. When the time came to take a stance on the issue of the eligibility of the voters, he sought to jettison the “problem child” as he saw it, rather than deal with the problem itself. The fates had the last laugh when he himself was “jettisoned,” cut adrift by the very ineligible members he sought to pacify.

    As for DJW, he has since revealed his own true colors, casting himself as kingmaker in the elections of both Infantino and Montagliani… in seemingly apparent, if not transparent, return for being made “king” himself… and the coronation march continues.

    • Earl Best

      How true, Bakes. With Brexit in the front of so many minds, it might be useful to remind King John-Williams) of English history and this headline and blurb from a Telegraph story:

      “King John: the most evil monarch in Britain’s history

      A lecherous traitor, a depraved tyrant and a hopeless leader in war – it’s no wonder his subjects rose up and forced Magna Carta on him.

      Those who fail to learn from history…

  15. When one cannot use performance as a stepping stone upwards then propaganda and gerrymandering is the order of the day , especially when personal ambition trumps all else

  16. Incompetence prevails! Ego, stupidity, selfishness

  17. ..Agreed. And NOT ONE significant measure has been undertaken by this (now not so) new administration to address its election promises and/or the needs of local football. Youth and women’s football. Coach education. Club development. Referee development. Restructuring of elite football. Is only politics, politics, politics..

  18. But his priority/his main focus should be to fix T&T football, to bring sustainable development to local football. Wasn’t that his campaign promise as laid out in his manifesto, in his transformation plan?? Why is he even thinking about CFU leadership?? How feasible will that be to T&T football?? Me with those silly questions again…

  19. This is edging my teeth so much eh.

  20. There is no politics like sport politics. The lack of oversight allows real monsters to thrive. Some of the greatest dictators the world has seen are sport administrators.

  21. People want to get ahead by any means. Barely six months in charge of T&T football and not a smooth spell by any means. Already he wants to run the Caribbean.
    No shortage of ambition at all.

  22. ..I reserve comment on the constitutional/electoral issue at this point. Suffice it to say, however, that I admire ambition. I love the proverbial “lean and hungry men”. They move the world. But the DJW administration (if blame is to be assigned to the ENTIRE GROUP and not to ONE MAN – otherwise the rest of that group are guilty of allowing One-Manism yet again), stands accused of treachery of Caribbean unity and the Caribbean people – not mere ambition. Forces at CONCACAF and FIFA levels intend to ensure that the Caribbean NEVER AGAIN arises as a meaningful force in football politics of either body. Our lot, in their view, is to run around the field, support them in their varied agendas, and fight over table scraps. To be cannon fodder in a grand global design that holds no benefit for Caribbean people. And these people are facilitating that. Indeed, they want to promote that agenda from the front. We shall see how CFU members respond to that but I fear. Because half of them have accepted and have voted for the current CONCACAF status quo…

  23. I do not want to question the integrity of the goodly gentlemen, however, I await his move on this situation, seeing that a letter was lodged with the FIFA President. I had hope for T&T football with a fresh administration and new ideas, but now I cannot get past the election improprieties! To me, it is a sign of more to come…

    • Your statement “I do not want to question the integrity of the goodly gentlemen” is the prime reason, in my view, we always have leadership problems in politics, sports organizations, private and public sector organizations etc in Trinidad and Tobago. Always expect these folk to be principled decision makers, respectable and exemplary leaders! Never wait and see. As far as I am concerned He has shown his hands a few times already and I adjudged him as an incompetent president, lacks integrity and is morally bankrupt. A vote of no confidence is appropriate at this time, else ‘crapeau smoke we pipe’ in T&T football.

  24. These international bodies need to sit all the way down

  25. My next question; what determines who the TTFA President supports in a FIFA Presidential Election? Does he just awake one morning and say I voting for whomever I feel? Or is there a delegation that determines how the TTFA vote is represented? Or maybe I’m asking too many silly questions!

  26. Integrity? After jostling for position and back stabbing Caribbean unity yuh hoping for integrity.

  27. Tim Kee was expecting to gain from an improperly organized, unconstitutional election. Instead, he set up himself. Two victims here; T&T football and Ramesh Ramdhan! John Williams benefited from a flawed election process. Question is; does he have the integrity to do the right thing knowingly that he became victor in a flawed election process? I think not! Ramdhan is on his own with this one! As a young person in this country, I feel like corruption defines us at all levels!

  28. Lasana Liburd don’t get me mad this morning!! While the proleague on last breath, U 20s looking like school boys, women football fighting for its life and sec school football at an all time low ur big story is a sour grapes story!! Come man!!! The new president ambitious want Caribbean proleague, CFU presidency so what?? Nothing aint going on if a man is a worker have the passion and the work ethic to match why trying to hold him back? I tell u black ppl is their own worse enemy, flick man!! Stop the bs time to build the thing the youths counting on us time to stop selling we birth right for a bowl of soup!! We are at the crossroads of history and it is time all stakeholders get on board the divide and rule days done bc it have nothing to divide to rule over!!

    • Earl Best

      Chandani Boodoo has siad it best. No further comment needed.

    • Gordon, I am not a professional cheerleader.

    • What criteria do you use Gordon Pierre to determine that Secondary School Football is at an all time low?
      Is it that we service 117 Schools ?
      Is it that we have over 6000 players taking part in our competitions?
      Is it that we do this without Government funding like other leagues ?
      Is it that we the National Executives are non salaried volunteers ?
      ( 15 years an Executive and have not had a free trip …not even to Tobago…….. Shucks !! )
      Is it that even without a formal Min of Ed. Policy we have a positive effect on students and have been responsible for many positive interventions ( e.g. Sports scholarships)
      Is it that we have credibility in terms of our use of funds such that large companies ,some international , have no problem dealing with us
      Is it that we have no preference in competing for resources.
      In fairness I would appreciate seeing the analysis you used to arrive at your statement .

    • Trevor, maybe he means the standard of play, its pretty bad compared to the past from all reports.

    • The uncomfortable truth is that all parties involved agreed to d election because it was the best option at the time now ppl c things moving forward without them they appealing!! For the five years Jack have been out of football nothing positive have happened in CFU now a push for a Caribbean proleague d rats come out not because of d good of the game but the money they expect to earn!! Lasana Liburd all the things that need fixing that i list a cheerleader would not help but surely innovative and constructive solution finding will!! It seems ur a negative cheerleader not a professional one or gun for hire??

    • Trevor Bridglalsingh i was now going to answer u but Chandani Boodoo did a good job!! And if u have to ask that question heaven help us!!!

    • Gordon, I never criticised the idea of a Caribbean Pro League. But if you think DJW was thinking about a Caribbean Pro League and invited everyone BUT the CFU president and general secretary to discuss it…
      Well, I have some swamp land to sell you. Lol.

    • Hahaha good one!! I c nothing wrong with lobbying for CFU presidency we need strong leadership right now!!

    • I really cannot compute ” pretty bad ” in terms of a critical abyss is of football.

    • Sorry “analysis ” not “abyss” .

    • That’s one of the biggest problems plaguing local football!! Big language and high talk!! I could there with u bc i am a science teacher too physics at that but that will not help the problem if u looking at football and need scientific data to say it piss poor i will say as my uneducated grandmother would say it walks like duck it quacks like a duck hey it probably is a duck!! Go watch the school football and come back and tell me

    • What is the main remit of the SSFL.

    • To organize secondary school competitive football. And before u run down the road about d number of schools and students involved if the majority of players involved can’t carry out the basic functions in football then we are failing them!!

    • Gordon, Trinis always mistake strong arm leadership with strong leadership. And that is one of the reasons we are in this mess.

    • Strong arm leadership got us here is strong arm that have to get us out u better believe that brother

    • Nah. I absolutely, sincere and comprehensively disagree Gordon Pierre! Lol. Wait and see. I bet you anything you have that you will sing a different song in five years.
      Or if you don’t, everyone else will.

    • Do we know what strong leadership is. Jack left a strong arm legacy eh!

    • So who is responsible for technical training?
      Does England have a Secondary Schools League? No?
      Who takes the responsibility for player d velopment?
      It’s the same in France.
      Elite prayer development has to be organized by the parent body for football.
      Nobody blames the Eddie Hart league or Francis Rivas for the level of football in TT do they.

    • England does have a school league btw. It is just academies don’t usually let their players take part. So it is for recreational players.

    • Trevor Bridglalsingh don’t compare apples and grapes!! In England the school league know their place but in trinidad they are at the for front as the basis of football kings of their own Hill so they are responsible for the players that play in their league. In the USA in a couple football and basketball in university which acts as the feeder to the NFL and NBA the Universities is responsible for the development of the players in their league that will be a better comparison

  29. Firstly, it seems more an attempt by Tim Kee to influence the outcome rather than a shortcoming of DJW. Secondly, I am unclear on the issue re. The Constitution and its annexes. Anything annexed to the constitution is a part thereof no? I don’t see the distinction. Thirdly, the issue of CFU voting as a block is a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, not a legal requirement. Isn’t the TTFA entitled to determine on its own who it backs?

    The current running of the TTFA certainly is a concern. Autocratic rule doesn’t sit well with me. Again, where is the rest of the Executive in managing the affairs of the TTFA?

    • The interpretation of the clause differs between FIFA and the TTFA electoral committee. And that was kind of a big deal. You didn’t notice that?
      It wasn’t in the final constitution that was sent out. But I won’t argue about the strength of an annex versus being an article since I don’t think it matters if the clause didn’t mean what the electoral committee thought it meant.

    • The other question is if a good decision can come from a flawed process. But you can decide that yourself.

    • I think that no serious organisation can ” annex” any thing to their constitution, that has to be a joke.
      Proper procedure must require discussion and agreement by all members before any such change can be made.
      Surely this is stipulated in the existing constitution.

  30. Well well well. We just cant seem to get it right. Seems like FIFA got what they wanted also. Lasana do you know if Victor Montagliani or Canada also voted for Infantino?

  31. Why people surprised…the man is a snake

  32. The TTFA should do the “right” thing and subject itself to a new election asap. Any idea what the TTFA constitutional remit here is? Hoping FIFA does not have to get involved..

  33. Birdman is what you gone and dig up here Lasana Liburd – this has the lethal potential to be the most massive Caribbean sports story/scandal/revelation for 2016 #icanttakeit

  34. Egos, power plays and blind desire to get what one wants…
    The political culture of so many spheres in this country.

    • Surprised to hear how the election went?

    • Surprised to learn that a former WIPA president seems to have so blatantly overlooked proper/legal procedure for a national sporting governing body.
      But maybe I shouldn’t be?
      The more we learn of ppl is the more self interested they appear to be.
      Does make me wonder about his criticism of and issues with the WICB though…
      Maybe we’re not always fair to Cameron and company…
      You were surprised?

    • Ha Chabeth Haynes don’t go there yet making that cross comparison regarding Dinas/WICB issues although this looks very problematic for him.

      Plus unless I’m missing something he doesn’t/didn’t have much to gain in his role in TTFA election

      He was never perfect but opinions on him aside the CCJ said he was right in his numerous court cases vs WICB and many of less polarizing people in the Caribbean cricket world have echoed his views over the years

    • I was surprised that FIFA essentially threw their hands up and let them do as they pleased. But then on reflection, I couldn’t be too surprised.
      This is the environment we operate in.

    • Colin, idk who had what to gain nah…
      Tim Kee thought he’d benefit from the constitutional violation and ended up losing…
      Lasana, I have no positive expectations of FIFA since I started following Wired868.

    • It’s scary sports politics getting just like real world government politics – I need a new hoppy for 2017 Chabeth Haynes

    • Find a suitable replacement with the ability to shoot off some biting responses in fb arguments, before you go Colin Benjamin… ??

    • Chabeth Haynes Haha I fear that replacement might not exist. Sports suppose to be a enjoyable escape from the stress of real world confusion in politics for a few hours every week.

      That why i enter the sports media world – but sadly too often in Caribbean sports its no longer enjoyable due to stories like this #letthebumbaclathhsportsplayandphukthepolitics