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Look Loy offers qualified apology to Tobago referees after TTSL boycott on Sunday

Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) President Keith Look Loy has attempted to quell a revolt that threatened the completion of the competition’s 2017 fixtures, after offering an apology to the Tobago Referees’ Association (TRA) today.

The apology was demanded by TRA head Noel Bynoe after comments made by Look Loy on Facebook—in his capacity as FC Santa Rosa head coach—after Rosa’s 3-2 loss to 1976 FC Phoenix via kicks from the penalty mark in a FA Trophy Round of 16 fixture on 25 October.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy reacts to action during his team’s 1-0 win over Marabella Family Crisis Centre in 2015/16 CNG National Super League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868

Notably, the TRA’s request was forwarded to the TTSL after Tobago referees boycotted two league matches on Sunday between Bethel United and Siparia Spurs at  Montgomery Recreation Ground and WASA FC and Phoenix in Canaan.

Look Loy deleted the Facebook post yesterday before offering an apology today.

“FC Santa Rosa and I, have an obvious interest in the TT Super League completing its excellent inaugural season without further disruption and public controversy about referees,” stated Look Loy’s letter to the TRA. “This does neither football nor the League any good. Therefore, both the club and I are willing to sacrifice our positions and principles, and to accede to the extraordinary demands of the Tobago Referees Association, in the broader interest of football and TTSL.

“I withdraw my comment considered offensive by TRA, regarding the belief of Trinidad teams traveling to Tobago to play that they have ‘little chance of winning’. My apologies to anyone else (referees or otherwise) so offended…”

Up until the time of publication, Bynoe had not yet formally recognised the apology and, when contacted for comment, he told Wired868 he was at a meeting and would consider the new turn of events later in the day.

It is the second time in a matter of days that the TTSL president was forced to apologise to a match official, after a similar concession to FIFA referee Cecile Hinds.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) smiles with fourth official Cecile Hinds before the First Citizens Bank Cup final between Defence Force and Ma Pau Stars at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 2 December 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Look Loy and assistant coach Jovan Rochford were both ejected from the technical areas after criticising Hinds for her response to an injury suffered by Rosa attacker Rashad Griffith during their TTSL clash with Guaya United, which Guaya won 3-1.

Look Loy admitted to using obscenity while Hinds further alleged that the coach used sexist language as well. The matter is still set to be adjudicated by the TTSL Disciplinary Committee.

In the Tobago case, Look Loy’s post, following their FA Trophy defeat, read:

“While Santa Rosa’s Big Cannons still could have won in the final act of a match filled with drama and controversy, the most important actor on the day was the referee. One minute after the resumption a Phoenix shot entered the goal net through the side panel, for which the referee awarded a goal.

“Santa Rosa players protested and the referee showed the red card to two. The protest continued and, on the advice of the assistant referee who had seen the play, eventually the referee changed her call, awarded a corner to Phoenix and changed that call to a goal kick to Santa Rosa…

“FC Santa Rosa has forwarded a complaint to the Referees’ Association concerning the atrocious performance of the referee.”

Photo: (From left) San Juan Jabloteh’s Tyrone Charles, Caledonia AIA’s Nathan Lewis and Kareem Joseph await the verdict of match referee Tricia Des Vignes during 2014/15 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Almost certainly, it was Look Loy’s comments made directly to the match official that caused the most offence. A TRA media statement alleged that the TTSL president and Rosa coach had “berated” referee Tricia Des Vignes and told her Trinidad clubs do not travel to the “Sister Isle” expecting a fair game—Look Loy strongly denied any suggestion that he berated Des Vignes.

The Tobago body described the statement that it attributed to Look Loy as “baseless and very dangerous.”

“Your claim that ‘Clubs from Trinidad view a match in Tobago with great distaste as they believe they have little chance of winning’ is a very inflammatory and demeaning statement to all Tobagonians,” stated Bynoe. “Until a letter of apology is sent to satisfy us, we will continue to boycott.

“We as Tobagonians are a decent people. We don’t leave our homes to come and cheat people…”

Owing to Sunday’s cancellation, there are still five Tobago fixtures left in the TTSL season—including a potential coronation on 3 December when Phoenix host leaders, Guaya.

Look Loy suggested that Sunday’s pull-out will be felt in the League’s coffers as well.

“As a consequence of this boycott by Tobago referees, with no prior warning to TTSL or FC Santa Rosa,” he said, “the league lost twelve thousand dollars in air fare, which it will now have to purchase a second time.”

Photo: (From Left to right) Lt Ryan Ottley (TTSL interim VP), Keith Look Loy (TTSL interim President), Minister Darryl Smith, Camara David (TTSL Secretary), Kester Lendor (TTSL interim Assistant Secretary) and Quincy Jones (interim Board member).
(Courtesy TTSL)

TTSL general secretary Camara David lamented the fact that the TRA had not made its intentions or demands clear before the weekend fixtures.

“I don’t understand how you can boycott games and not communicate to the League,” said David, who learnt of the boycott plans approximately half an hour before the scheduled kick-off.

The Tobago refereeing body is not formally affiliated with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association.

“We at the TTFRA have not given any instructions to referees in Trinidad to boycott games,” said TTFRA third vice-president Osmond Downer.

Downer declined to express a view on the TRA’s action on Sunday but said that, generally, he had no problem with the standard of refereeing in Trinidad and Tobago.

“In my expert opinion, I would say the standard of refereeing in Trinidad is at a relatively good level,” he said. “The standard of refereeing is not terrible or horrible.”

Photo: Veteran Central FC midfielder Marvin Oliver (left) gives referee Gyasi McDonald his yellow card back during the 2013/14 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)

Look Loy disagreed in recent correspondence to the TTFRA while the Central Football Association (CFA) has also requested urgent stakeholder dialogue to improve the level of local officiating.

“I assure you the verdict is unanimous across the board that the state of refereeing is terminally poor,” Look Loy said. “We need collectively to discuss rational solutions to the issue that arise therefrom…

“Some people have given up hope of an improvement in refereeing quality, most are afraid to speak out for fear of victimisation.”

Bynoe, who said improving the standard of local refereeing was a work in progress, suggested Look Loy was deflecting.

“Sir, it has become a very noticeable trend with you that when your club loses a match, someone else is always to blame and most times it is the referees,” stated the TRA’s correspondence read. “Your comments of the referee’s general performance is [sic] duly noted but I, like any fair minded person, would question your ability as the coach of one of the competing teams to objectively assess the referee.”

Photo: Referee Rashby McPhie (right) has a word with FC Santa Rosa midfielder Durwin Ross during TTSL One action involving Bethel United at the Arima Velodrome on 18 June 2017.
(Courtesy Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Look Loy insisted that his Facebook post ought to be protected as freedom of speech.

“FC Santa Rosa is a private organisation, with full entitlement to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago,” stated Look Loy. “The article in question, which was not opinion but which included a statement of certain match facts, broke no law of Trinidad and Tobago, was not libellous, nor in contravention of any football regulation.”

In the end though, for the sake of the TTSL, Look Loy did offer an apology.

The ball is now the court of the Tobago referees.

Photo: Referee Larry Lalchan (centre) and fourth official Gordon Maloney (second from left) share a moment before kick-off during a Pro League contest in the 2014 season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Look Loy’s letter to the Tobago Referees’ Association

Dear Sir,

I write following our telephone conversation this morning following the unprecedented boycott of TT Super League (TTSL) matches on the weekend, and regarding the demands of the Tobago Referees Association (TRA) for:

  1. The removal by FC Santa Rosa of a match report on the club’s FA Cup match against 1976 Phoenix Fc, and
  2. An apology from me for a statement made to the TTFA Referees Committee regarding the belief of Trinidad teams that they have “little chance” of winning in Tobago; the resumption of service to TTSL by Tobago referees being contingent on both demands being met.

As an important aside, I note that in its release to the public media regarding the demands above that the TRA states incorrectly that I “berated” the referee after said match. This is libellous. There are innumerable witnesses, including the TTSL Board member George Joseph of Bethel United FC and 1976 Phoenix FC coach, Terry Williams, who will verify that I had absolutely no contact or interaction with the referee during or after the match.

To the point at hand, in response to these demands, and as I stated to you this morning, FC Santa Rosa is a private organization, with full entitlement to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. The article in question, which was not opinion but which included a statement of certain match facts, broke no law of Trinidad and Tobago, was not libelous, nor in contravention of any football regulation.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy (centre) talks to his players at halftime while then captain Jovan Rochford (right) has a drink of water during 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) Premiership Division action against Club Sando Moruga at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Further, my statement to the TTFA Referees Committee (regarding the specifically poor handling of the match by the referee, and the generally poor level of refereeing in both Tobago AND Trinidad) was expressed as coach of FC Santa Rosa in a private communication via the designated TTFA channel and not via any public medium, i.e. social and public media, etc.

I fully expected that it would be discussed within the appropriate football body/bodies (as advised by the Chairman of the TTFA Referees Committee) and following established protocols, with everyone free to agree or disagree. I am, therefore, astonished that TRA’s demand for an apology has reached the Tobago House of Assembly, the Ministry of Sport, and social and public media.

FC Santa Rosa and I, have an obvious interest in the TT Super League completing its excellent inaugural season without further disruption and public controversy about referees. This does neither Football nor the League any good. Therefore, both the club and I are willing to sacrifice our positions and principles, and to accede to the extraordinary demands of the Tobago Referees Association, in the broader interest of Football and TTSL.

First, FC Santa Rosa has removed from its facebook page (since Sunday 12 November) the article considered offensive by TRA.

Photo: Referee Neal Brizan (centre) has to separate Point Fortin Civic attacker Andre Toussaint (second from left) from San Juan Jabloteh’s Fabian Reid during the 2014 Toyota Classic final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Second, I withdraw my comment considered offensive by TRA, regarding the belief of Trinidad teams traveling to Tobago to play that they have “little chance of winning”. My apologies to anyone else (referees or otherwise) so offended.

Having now acceded to the demands of the Tobago Referees Association, I trust that all TTSL matches scheduled for Tobago between now and the end of the season on 10 December will be serviced by TRA officials.

I also very much anticipate the opportunity for all of Football to convene to discuss the controversial state of refereeing in Trinidad AND Tobago.

Best regards.

Keith Look Loy

FC Santa Rosa

AboutRoneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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98 comments

  1. ..And I have never been a CIC coach. People should not write what they feel or hear or think so easily..

  2. ..Let me say this to the disaffected. I am not a perfect creature, as apparently some people on facebook are. I have flaws, the worst being a volatile temper. I try every day to control this, with greater or lesser success each day.

    When I saw my player unconscious on the field without what I consider to be due and humane attention being paid by the referee, I lost it. I used two “bad words”. I cop to that and I duly apologized to the referee – not because I was afraid of any heat (I eh fraid dat) but because I thought I did wrong and should have maintained better self control.

    While I admit to that, NOBODY is talking about the negligent behaviour of the referee. I was present when Marvin Lee was crippled. We all remember Akeem Adams. Thank God he is better now, but if my player had been crippled, left in a coma or died, everybody, including the referee, would have gone home and mine would have been the responsibility to visit his family bearing bad news.

    So in the end, I expressed my regret to the referee and I continue to do my best in football. To those who are more perfect than I am; who do not lose their temper; who never used a “bad word”; who never did or said something they regretted but cannot pull back; what can I say? Sorry..

  3. I was confirming what you said. Two teams, 20 per team (40) by $300 is $12,000.

  4. Lol. A straight answer eludes you yes…
    A specific number is all I was asking for. Not validation of my computation skills… but cool.

  5. Chabeth your calculation is correct as it was two teams that travelled to Tobago

  6. What is the specific number? 40?
    Because it’s $300 to Tobago. So if you talking about 12k, then that’s 40 people.

  7. Travel to Tobago is limited to a specific number of persons per team, so teams can determine how many players and how many staff members travel

  8. How is it 12k though? These teams run 40 people deep? Including coaches and other staff?

  9. I don’t know what to think about Look Loy. He is a CIC boy and former CIC coach so I tend to support him but de man always in bacchanal.

  10. Keith is an intelligent, logical guy but sometimes …yuh have to temper the storm …..

  11. Lawd have mercy! I have never seen in my life such a rediculous statement that purports to be an apology from a supposedly intelligent man. It is even more insulting than its original statements that it is supposed to refer. Best he said nothing. How can today’s youth respect ppl like Keith Look Loy. Shame on him!

  12. According to the article…
    1. The referees’ association says the “little chance” comment was made to the ref.
    2. KLL apologised for the “little chance” comment.
    3. KLL says he had no interaction with the ref during or after the game.
    So the comment was made before the game even started? Or it wasn’t made to the ref? Or… what happened?

  13. is time we get disciplinary procedures for refs …they cant be getting away with bad performances

  14. Trinidad vs Tobago. And we wonder why we aint going a place as a nation. Smh

  15. i getting fed up of tobagonians taking everything into a Tvs T situation…from what i heard the ref was atrocious ..now his assoc pulling a Tobago card? lol

  16. In my life time I have witnessed Manny sporting events between Tobago and Trinidad. Trinidad always cheated

  17. Rely on Trinidad for Disrespect towards Tobago .

  18. Is not now Tobago referees thieving for d bago teams!!!
    My first trip to Tobago to play football was 14 yrs ago and it’s been happening then, heard about it b4 but didn’t know it was so serious until I experienced it.
    The most difficult thing to do in life is beat a Tobago team in Tobago!!! U does literally have to against the players, officials and spectators!!!
    So most of the time is 11 vs Tobago!!

  19. Been out of it for a while, but this highlights a concern I raised many months ago about holding an executive position in both the league and a team competing within that same league.

  20. Look Loy spoke as a representative of his Club not in his capacity as President of the league. He should be aware of the inability of some and the desire of others to not separate his roles. Therefore, he should either relinquish one role or hush he mouth. The Tobago referees in an attempt to defend the honor of all Tobagonians acted selfishly, impulsive and unprofessionally. There actions do them a disservice and discredit the league.

    • Whilst I agree with everything you’re saying might I add that ANY coach, forget the “President” for now but ANY coach who is a constant perpetrator… ppl WILL eventually react hence from day ONE I was of the view he WILL be a poor “President” a President ought to “Lead” ought to EARN people’s respect. Respect is Two way and you CANNOT expect ppl to respect you as President if you CONSTANTLY disrespect ppl. It’s that simple and that one bad overshadows his knowledge of the game which no doubt he has.

    • I agree with you that is the type of leader we should have but we seem to like the strong man loud mouth bully heading our organizations. If you are too thoughtful understanding you might be considered soff, no one wants to be soff. Please do not construe my comments as lack of believe in Look Loy ability as organizer nor knowledge of football. When I look at the public and private sector this leadership style seems to vet you to the top.

    • Hence my endorsing his knowledge of the game and if I may even add the business of the game but his example as a coach and now President leaves a lot to be desired

    • Sorry Sean, you can’t separate the two when it comes to being professional. In both capacities, he is in a leadership role, thus his behaviour as a coach will always be intertwined with that as an administrator. Leaders lead my friend.

    • Brent Bennett as I take a break from our 0-1 halftime deficit vs. Guyana. I never said he is a leader, I said his leadership style often gets people to the “head” of organizations in the public and private sector. I also said he is knowledgeable on the game and a good organizer, never did say he is a leader though in a leadership role(s).

    • Keith has very strong leadership qualities! Leaders no where are perfect and ALL leaders are human. As such they have certain proclivities and make mistakes. It is for this reason that there are executive and leadership coaches. Keith is also a very reasonable man. I’ve known him around and seen him in action for many years and he’s quite reasonable. He at least sees the error of his ways and is willing to apologize, which indicates some self-awareness. Contrast with another ‘leader’ who’s his namesake – never an apology is heard. Keith LL simply needs to moderate his tone and be more sensitive to the fact that he wears his emotions openly and that can have negative impact on others . I appreciate his passion and his thirst for doing things right. To help him I would suggest that he separates his two roles and learn to better manage his emotions.

      As a professional involved in leadership coaching and org development for 20+ years, I’ve seen many who’s books we read etc in action and many of them are far more volatile. Think of his when you think Job and you think GE. Why do you think jack Welch was called neutron jack.

      Because Keith takes strong positions it’s easy for him to polarize audiences which make him a bigger target. Give the man feedback and some love. His the best leader in our football today

    • Brian Harry why wouldn’t you suggest counseling for him instead of slack so he may be better at balancing both jobs before he makes these mistakes again 🤔

    • Kurtwyn Baird I suggested to Timothy Rochford that he suggests or recommends counselling for him but I was ignored… However we must also understand that the first step in being open to counselling is “ADMITTING” that one has a problem…

    • Kurtwyn Baird counseling is always an option.

  21. I fully understand his position, but as the Head coach of Santa Rosa and especially as the head of the TTSL he needs to show more composure and discipline after a loss

  22. Downer- “In my expert opinion, I would say the standard of refereeing in Trinidad is at a relatively good level” ok

  23. Keith is in a difficult situation given that he is both president of the TTSL and coach of his club. Most people will not take the time to separate the two roles as they assess him. It might be that he has to chose one over the other. His quality as an organizer and leader of the league is clear. His quality as a coach is also clear. As such capability is not the issue. Keith is also very forthright and emotional – so in the role of president that disposition doesn’t help his role well. As coach it’s a lot more acceptable.

    Given all of this, he does have a right to say things as he sees them as a citizen. I didn’t see his comment as injurious myself, coming from a coach but coming from a league exec it could be problematic. He might just have to separate his roles

  24. Lasana Liburd he should’ve had many major tests if only they weren’t being swept under the carpet or maybe if they were highlighted here…

  25. How should I start this paragraph of the story… “One week later…” could the frequency of the abusive outbursts be the reason for the”boycott”??? Just asking for a friend.

  26. Keith has got to understand that when he speaks he not only speaks as coach of Santa Rosa FC, but also as president of the TTSL. He’s a smart man, so I find it strange that he doesn’t understand that. He needs to learn to take his licks and cool it., and stop blaming the refs when they come out at the losing end.

  27. Wait, what? Now catching up to the drama…

  28. Hannibal Najjar

    Very interesting, very!

  29. Did the referees boycott because of Look Loy’s position as President of the league, or would they have had the same response regardless who said negative things about refereeing in Tobago?