“Why does FIFA need to approve Trinidad and Tobago players from a Trinidad and Tobago league?”
The question comes from a bemused Trinidad and Tobago Super League President Keith Look Loy, who is convinced that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is employing delaying tactics to destroy his and his organization’s dream of staging an All-Star football exhibition game in the two-island republic in October.
And as the Warriors prepare to meet Honduras in just under 24 hours at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva with the dream of World Cup 2018 qualification on the line, Look Loy and the TTSL seem also be battling to save their dream of bringing a team of former World Cup players to these shores.
Back in June, Wired868 exclusively reported that the TTSL were proposing a gala exhibition match, which would include a cast headlined by former Brazil and Barcelona superstar Ronaldinho and also featuring World Cup winners Rivaldo and Luca Toni.
According to Look Loy, the TTSL is currently cooling its heels, waiting for the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to put the official stamp of approval on their request. And the TTFA in turn, as was the case two months ago when Wired868 first reported on the TTSL’s ambitious ‘All-Star’ gig, are said to be awaiting confirmation from FIFA.
Now, says the TTSL President, another spanner seems to have been thrown in the works; the scheduling of this season’s FA Trophy tournament means that it is set to clash with the TTSL’s proposed gala showing in October.
“They have scheduled FA Cup for that [15 October] date,” Look Loy told Wired868, “which shows that they have no interest in granting our application because we applied for that date a long time ago, way before they did up the fixtures.”
Still remaining fairly optimistic that the TTFA will eventually—sooner rather than later—give the TTSL the green light, Look Loy added, “There’s no problem in putting off and rescheduling for the FA Trophy but our original date was 15 September and we put it back to 15 October to facilitate the participation of Ronaldinho.”
Look Loy, who on 9 August defeated Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force’s Ryan Ottley in the race for the TTSL presidency, is set to take his seat on the TTFA Board of Directors when the umbrella body holds its next EGM. However, the date for that meeting remains for the moment undisclosed to the general membership.
At the TTFA’s last EGM on 5 July, Veterans Football Federation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFoTT) President Selby Browne presented the TTFA with a list of 42 probing questions focused largely on financial matters which sought to get greater transparency about the TTFA’s operations since its president David John-Williams came into office nearly two years ago.
Will Look Loy get the opportunity to follow up on Browne’s list and perhaps put the TTSL’s All-Star game on the front burner once he is officially made a TTFA director?
The TTSL president, who is also the coach of TTSL defending champions FC Santa Rosa, is not at all certain that he’ll be able to take his place on the TTFA board before October.
Look Loy pointed to the long period of waiting the TTSL was made to sit through before it was ratified by the TTFA earlier this year. He raised the prospect that the delay in the granting of approval for the All-Star event was merely another example of the use of stalling tactics by the TTFA.
Wired868 reached out to John-Williams in an attempt to find out how close the TTFA were to approving the TTSL’s application. The TTFA President’s response was that he preferred not to comment on the issue at this time but that a media release would be issued in due course.
While the media release is pending, however, the TTSL are not twiddling their thumbs; they have moved ahead and released a 25-man provisional squad for the proposed 15 October exhibition.
Current leading TTSL One goal-scorer Carlon Hughes (Guaya United) is one of the names which stand out from the list, while Rosa high-flyer Rashad Griffith, former T&T international defender Makan Hislop (Bethel United) and T&T Beach Soccer player Kevon Woodley (Youth Stars FC) are also included in the provisional squad, which will be trimmed to 18 by the time the October event rolls around.
The TTSL All-Star team will be up against a Jamaican Premier League All-Star team and Look Loy is baffled as to why FIFA needs to approve the local team list.
“We sent the list [of TTSL All-Stars] to the TTFA on Tuesday,” Look Loy said. “They said they sent the information to FIFA. But why really does FIFA need to approve Trinidad and Tobago players from a Trinidad and Tobago league?”
The feature exhibition game will see a World XI team, inclusive of Ronaldinho, Cafu, Florent Malouda and Clarence Seedorf coming up against the Trinbago Oilers team from the Caribbean Football Trust Limited (CFTL)-backed Islands Cup tournament.
Look Loy stated that the TTSL are set to receive TT$100,000 from CFTL for the planned gala showdown. Of this, he said, TT$50,000 will go towards players and staff chosen for the ‘All-Star’ game while the remaining TT$50,000 will go straight into the TTSL’s coffers.
While the TTSL President may appear to be out in the cold at the moment, he is intent on helping the TTFA get things in order once he begins to warm his new board member seat.
“One thing will definitely be to look at the lack of planning [within the TTFA],” Look Loy said, raising questions about the usage of the funds which have been pumped into the organisation by the NLCB.
Among the list of 42 questions which he revealed on 5 July, Browne included this: “How much funding has the TTFA received from NLCB in 2016 and 2017” and also enquired about the “total cost of salary and administrative expenses of the NLCB Grassroots Programme.”
Into the boiling Browne pot, Look Loy wants to toss the issue of the TTFA’s process for hiring national coaches.
“I’m also looking at the issue of technical appointments […] in terms of national teams and how decisions are met,” he told Wired868. “There are a string of administrative and technical things [that need to be sorted out].”
All of those other “administrative and technical things,” however, will have to sit for a while on the back burner. For the moment, the TTSL President wants the TTFA to get FIFA to give final approval to the proposed All-Star showdown.
And then, Look Loy seems to think, the TTSL will be cooking with gas.