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ESPN allegedly seeks legal advice as DJW’s TTFA braces for more tv rights claims

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and his board of directors, apparently, do not know when they are behind.

Wired868 understands that the TTFA, in an extraordinary show of chutzpah, is sticking to its guns and refusing to allow broadcast rights holders to operate inside the Hasely Crawford Stadium for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifying contest between the Soca Warriors and Panama.

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. Infantino was the UEFA general secretary at the time. (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.
Infantino was the UEFA general secretary at the time.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

One local attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he understands that at least four television companies—including ESPN—are shopping around for high-end legal services in a bid to force the TTFA to accept their contracts.

Yesterday, Port of Spain High Court Judge Mira Dean-Armorer granted an injunction to United States Spanish-speaking television network, Telemundo, which forbid the local football body to re-sell rights already owned by the company or impede their exercising of those rights.

The TTFA had unsuccessfully argued, through Reginald Armour SC, that all broadcast rights derived from a pact between Traffic Sports USA, the Brazilian arm of a Brazilian sports event management television production company, and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) should be voided due to a bribe paid by former Traffic president Aaron Davidson to ex-CONCACAF president and CFU normalisation committee chairman, Jeffrey Webb.

Former local football body interim president Lennox Watson signed over Trinidad and Tobago’s television rights to the CFU for the next two World Cup cycles on 29 August 2012.

Crucially, the John-Williams-led board never bothered to test the strength of their case in court by seeking to void their deals with CFU and Traffic.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Instead, the TTFA simply refused to acknowledge the validity of the contracts—although the local football body allowed all the rights holders in question to exercise their rights for previous 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Port of Spain against Guatemala and Costa Rica.

“That is not the conduct of an honest commercial man,” said Christopher Hamel-Smith, during Telemundo’s legal charge at the Port of Spain High Court on 21 March 2017. “The conduct of an honest commercial man is that he respects the rights of somebody who is bonafide and he gets what he can get from the people who took advantage of him if he truly believes that.”

Dean-Armorer ordered John-Williams and the TTFA to stand down and allow Telemundo to do their work until the High Court can rule on the validity of their contracts.

However, the Judge did suggest that she may have Telemundo make a deposit in an interest-bearing account of the court for the minimum value payable for the two games if the United States-based company loses its eventual suit against the TTFA.

The TTFA is guaranteed US$1.8 million in broadcast rights for competing in the CONCACAF Hex. However, according to an insider, John-Williams allegedly insisted that the football body can double that figure by shopping the rights around on the open market.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams muses over Mexico's decisive goal in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Getty Images/AFP/ Mike Zarrilli)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams muses over Mexico’s decisive goal in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Getty Images/AFP/ Mike Zarrilli)

Should the TTFA fail to convince the High Court that Telemundo’s contract is voided by the behaviour of CFU and Traffic, the Spanish-speaking network—whose parent company, NBCUniversal has assets of over US$68 million—has already vowed to sue for:

  • Damages and/or damages on the footing of exemplary and/or aggravated damages;
  • An account of profits;
  • Interest at such rate and for such period as the Court may find just;
  • Such further or other relief as the Court considers just and appropriate;
  • Costs.

If the TTFA attract more lawsuits—as seems likely—and lose those as well, the local football body could end up haemorrhaging money from its 2018 World Cup campaign, despite their success on the field in getting this far.

Either way, this remarkable action by the TTFA—which Telemundo described as “a shakedown” in a court deposition—is likely to define John-Williams’ presidency in one way or the other.

Unfazed, John-Williams suggested that he was encouraged by Dean-Armorer’s ruling.

“I suggest you get the full consent order from the court,” the TTFA president told Wired868, “and [fully] understand what the Judge granted.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from right) poses with Women's National Senior Team coaches (from left) Nicola Williams, Carolina Morace and Elisabetta Bavagnoli at a press conference in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 1 February 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from right) poses with Women’s National Senior Team coaches (from left) Nicola Williams, Carolina Morace and Elisabetta Bavagnoli at a press conference in the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 1 February 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

A legal source familiar with the case was incredulous at the TTFA’s stance.

“He definitely has balls bigger than mine,” he said.

CFU president Gordon Derrick and Traffic USA senior vice president Roberto Herval declined comment on the issue. Both are monitoring the unfolding situation in Port of Spain.

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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96 comments

  1. And it really looking like Carlos Edwards might not handle the pace of the Mexicans eh, but we shall see. Them really good yes.

  2. Nice ugly win finally learn to park a bus and hope for the best on the break but this won’t work against the big guns we must play better

  3. rescued by the captain of the treasure queen

  4. aint pretty, but we go take the W

  5. I must say a very good win but our defense really needs to buck up, they better don’t make those same mistakes against Mexico eh. Them really good yes.

  6. hahahahah is half time eh Reyna Kowlessar

  7. hahahaha Mr Bound not to score is really impressive tonight eh Them really good yes.

  8. Nice! Wish ah coulda talk flicking spanish?

  9. demuddah? is everybody saddis wine low on so???

  10. One option to watch the game is to sign up for the free 7-day trial using the link below, then cancel. Just make sure you call and cancel rather than doing so online.

  11. so they prefer $0 from FLOW?

  12. So quick question with flow sports out, would there be any way trinis can watch other than streaming?

  13. So there is no way to remove this man?!

  14. Thanks DJW! So happy we can see our boys play ?

  15. If a bootleg link shows up, I’ll post it.

  16. my both sons sick so I say I stayibg home and helping the wifey while watching

  17. If you folks have BeIN SPORTS as one of your cable channels. It is being shown there.

  18. ,,People vote for that. I believe right now he needs a good result more than the team es….

  19. ..The TTFA General Meeting can. The fruit falls only when it ripe..

  20. My question is why haven’t there been attempts to remove this man from his role…Is there anyway to do so?

    • Only the board of directors can. Half of the board were either on his slate or get business directly from the TTFA in one way or the other. So won’t be an easy move.
      I suspect the general council can request an emergency general meeting too. I think that would be unprecedented.

    • So how does the general council feel about these maneuverings?

    • Earl Best

      Mario,
      The real world is a much more complex place than your question implies.

      And Trinidad and Tobago is a much more corrupt place than your innocent question suggests. Go slowly and keep your eyes and ears open.

    • And still they do nothing. We really need to get people in the ttfa that are concerned with the game and it’s growth and progress in Trinidad and not their ego or pockets

    • Based on my calls, I don’t think many people–even on the board–knew the full story. They received little bits of info. One might say selective bits. Their eyes are opened as widely as everyone else’s right now.

  21. I think him and David Cameron must be related

  22. David, David, David what u doing dan? #moveup or #getout

  23. This shit is getting better by the days

  24. He’s a sociopath of course he’ll do that

  25. while I am not.the biggest DJW shouldnt we.be SUPPORTING HIM in this action?’
    FACT…contract was awarded with aid of a bribe…likely meaning contract UNDERVALUED our worth..shouldnt we.fight tooth and nail for that?

    • That’s not “FACT” that’s conjecture.

    • wasn’t Webb indicted for such?

    • from Wikipedia(lol)
      On 27 May 2015, Webb was arrested for corruption charges. The indictment, which named fourteen other individuals related to FIFA, included racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. In addition to senior soccer officials, the indictment also named sports-marketing executives from the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments

    • Webb was President of CONCACAF. This contract is between CFU and Traffic Sports. Given the climate surrounding TV right bids at the time it’s a safe assumption to make that the process was less than transparent, and certainly undervalued. But none of that is fact.

    • from the article

      The TTFA had unsuccessfully argued, through Reginald Armour SC, that all broadcast rights derived from a pact between Traffic Sports USA, the Brazilian arm of a Brazilian sports event management television production company, and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) should be voided due to a bribe paid by former Traffic president Aaron Davidson to ex-CONCACAF president and CFU normalisation committee chairman, Jeffrey Webb.

    • so he was part of CFU…and from the story it didnt say Armour “alleged”

    • Webb was CONCACAF President when that contract was signed.

    • Armour is also the idiot who advised DJW to act as though the contract was per se invalid. Look where it got them.

    • yes….and alsoCFU normalisation committe chairman…whatever d hell that is

    • I eh saying no inno..I think they should.have tried to void the contracts before…all I saying is we should be standing with DJW because a WRONG has been perpetrated and we should seek justice.whether we can win in court…well…thats a different issue

    • instead…everyone here just criticizing because well…”dey doh like him”…hey…neither do I…but I separate personality from issue

    • but we bawl to the heavens when JW got the CONCACAF, or was it Caribbean ?..WC broadcasting rights for $1

    • I can’t speak for “we”… speaking for myself I’m critical because as someone for whom contracts is a large portion of my practice, DJW went about things in a dumbass way. And now having had all the omens one could want in assessing the merits of one’s case point to failure, he remains intransigent in his stance that he’s somehow right. The guys history is one in which he has routinely and repeated demonstrated contempt for contracts. From Kendall Walkes, to Sheldon Phillips, to any number of vendors since assuming leadership of the TTFA, he has treated contractual obligations as mere inconveniences. there is a penalty attached to that, we just have not seen the accounting be made to bear because of the labyrinthine process that is the judicial system in TnT.

    • Fully agree with you Nigel S. Scott.

  26. All that’s gonna happen is he is gonna resign and leave all the debt on the ttfa ….how the f@€& has no committee called an emergency meeting to depose this p#!&# !!

  27. This might be a good time for the board to resign to show their dissent or continue in their blissful ignorance because if Telemundo is thinking of countersuing depending on the outcome. Telemundo should also sue the Board

  28. These are the actions of a desperate man, the cash has run out, the bills are piling up and vendors have retained counsel. The wheels are about to come off this go cart posing as a ferrari.

  29. Because one ass-whupping isn’t enough

  30. This man is all the ass out there I could think about. He is jus damaging everything there

  31. He just fucking up our football.. we need somebody like that can fo the best job for Trinidad and Tobago football

  32. And they say tim Kee was no good

  33. How this man still heading our football is astounding and very disrespectful to our intelligence as a people

  34. I doh care what alyuh say nah, my dictator president never like to loose anything eh, so take them on my president and bring home the victory. Them really good yes.

  35. Lol. Reminds me of Kamla’s assorted “victories” in the courts. ?

  36. See same thing I worried about…according to how this reading, it seems as though they’re jeopardizing my ability to see the damn game here in the US. Steups!!!

  37. Y dis guy putting a dark cloud over our football?

  38. Should I even tag you Kelon Williams

  39. yup read it. a damn shame eh

  40. This man is really mad yes.

  41. This man is essentially telling the court to go f@$k itself … wowie.

  42. Since this man came into power…things went from good…to bad…to worst…as Ii said before…we jus have a knack for chosin the wrong ppl to lead us

  43. Clearly his mantra is #GoBigOrGoHome

  44. It will be an amazing win if he pulls it off, even though the manner of his actions is still an acquired taste that I don’t share.
    If he doesn’t pull it off though… It could cost the TTFA tens of millions of dollars.

  45. Big mouth, big attitude normally equal big fall from grace..

  46. So who are d TTFA Legal advisers to guide them before breaches like these are made…smh

  47. Train is racing uncontrollably to the edge of the rails. Out of the wreck may alight (cell phone at ear) the driver in a blue linen shirt, khaki pants and moccasins. And the forest burns around him……..

  48. Please tell meh dis is fake news or satire !