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DJW: Latapy’s letter doesn’t “reflect our efforts”; Latapy: “We have differing perceptions”

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams has promised to honour the local body’s debt and outstanding salary payments to National Under-20 Team coach Russell Latapy.

However, the beleaguered president has suggested that the former football icon and 2006 World Cup player did not properly reflect the communication between the pair in an email last Friday, which was leaked to Wired868.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 coach Russell Latapy (centre) shouts instructions at his players during 2017 Under-17 World Cup qualifying action in Couva on 17 September 2016.
Haiti won 2-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“Disparaging excerpts of your communication to the Board has [sic] now made its way into the public domain,” John-Williams wrote to Latapy, in an email on Sunday, “which in no way reflects our efforts to date and sheds a less than favourable light on both myself and the TTFA.”

Latapy, in his own response, stood by his initial email but expressed hope “that these issues are addressed and resolved as soon as possible.”

The tense exchange is a spin-off from the TTFA’s current economic issues, which are believed to be linked to John-Williams’ failure to have his 2016 financial statement approved—his first year in office as football president.

At present, the football body can receive up to TT$9.7 million a year from FIFA, which is an unprecedented largesse from the world governing body. It is uncertain whether such funding has been halted due to an impasse between John-Williams and the TTFA membership over his financial stewardship and inability to provide detail on several projects including the Home of Football—a technical development centre and hotel, adjacent to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

According to information that John-Williams forwarded to the TTFA Board on Sunday, the local football body is eligible to receive up to:

Photo: TTFA president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (left) presents the winning cheque to his daughter and Connection director Renee John-Williams after their FA Trophy final win over Police FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 8 December 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)
  • US$750,000 per year for football projects such as pitches, competitions and women’s football.
  • US$500,000 per year for running costs in areas including administration and governance and football programmes.
  • US$175,000 per year to cover travel cost, so its various national teams can compete in international games and competition.
  • US$100,000 over four years as an equipment solidarity fund, which can only be used, for equipment as stated.

None of this money can be used to service debts.

Three years ago, then TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillip gave a budget of TT$10 million to run the entire football body with all teams in training at once. At present, the TTFA can access most of that money from FIFA funding alone, without counting a NLCB contract for another TT$2 million annually or gate receipts, television rights and other sponsorship options.

Yet, the John-Williams-led body has racked up a considerable debt to technical staff and players during his two and a half year term so far.

Eight months after the biggest result of his tenure, Wired868 understands that the TTFA has still not paid players their bonuses for a shock 2-1 win over the United States in Couva, which eliminated the North American giants from the Russia 2018 World Cup campaign.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (second from left) celebrates with teammates after his stunning goal against the United States during 2018 World Cup qualifying action in Couva on 10 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Luis Acosta)

And the Women’s National Senior Team are believed to have had a debt settled in mid-tournament last month, after threatening to strike.

Latapy’s own frustration bubbled over last Friday, when he emailed John-Williams and copied in the entire TTFA Board.

“I write again in regard to the outstanding salary and car allowance payments,” said Latapy. “I’ve been emailing and calling you daily, with little or no response. This is unprofessional and unacceptable at best, as you have not acknowledged any communications regarding team matters, nor outstanding salaries and allowances.

“On the rare occasion you have accepted my call, it is brief with the promise to return the call to address my outstanding payments and matters pertaining to my team, which to date I still await.

“This has been occurring before your unfortunate incident, and now you have left me with little recourse, but to copy the Technical Director, General Secretary and Board members in this communication to you. I await your feedback as it relates to my team members and myself.”

John-Williams’ response was swift—on this occasion—but the president said only that he spoke to Latapy just two days earlier.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) has a word with Trinidad and Tobago national youth coach Russell Latapy on the training ground before the 2016 U-17 CFU competition.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“Your email in noted. For the record I did speak to you by telephone on Wednesday,” said John-Williams.

Latapy replied again to stress that their midweek phone call did not negate his concerns about their supposedly poor communication.

“As mentioned in my previous email,” Latapy said, “we briefly spoke: ‘On the rare occasion you have accepted my call, it is brief with the promise to return the call to address my outstanding payments and matters pertaining to my team, which to date I still await’.

“You requested documents which were sent. I am still awaiting your acknowledgment of receipt and feedback regarding the monies owed as you promised in that said conversation on Wednesday morning.

“The promise you made for feedback by Wednesday night I still have not received. This continues to be unresolved.”

John-Williams’ initial response to Latapy was despatched just five minutes after Wired868 published the coach’s grouse. By the following day, the letter had also hit the mainstream media.

The TTFA president contacted his national youth team coach again to express his disappointment at that fact.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams weighs up his options during an exhibition match at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“Firstly, I acknowledge receipt of the documents requested on June 6th 2018,” said John-Williams. “I note the position that you have now taken since our last conversation on June 6th and I respect your decision.

“In my capacity as President of the TTFA, while not happy, I am very comfortable that the TTFA has made all reasonable efforts to address your situation, and of which we frequently keep you appraised.

“Disparaging excerpts of your communication to the Board has now made its way into the public domain  which in no way reflects our efforts to date and sheds a less than favourable light on both myself and the TTFA.

“Notwithstanding the foregoing we wish to assure you that this Administration will continue to pursue every effort to honour the large debt we inherited, and your outstanding salary.”

On Monday morning, Latapy accepted John-Williams’ olive branch but stressed that he did not believe he misrepresented their previous communication.

“Your email is acknowledged,” stated Latapy. “It is apparent, based on the statements in your last email, that we have differing perceptions of this situation.

“My hope is that these issues are addressed and resolved as soon as possible.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team head coach Russell Latapy (second from right) has a laugh with his technical staff before practice in Couva in September 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

According to another John-Williams’ release on the weekend, the TTFA owed Latapy over TT$7 million for his previous stint as National Senior Team head coach during the tenure of president Oliver Camps and special advisor Jack Warner.

It is uncertain how much of that figure was reduced during John-Williams’ tenure.

At present, the TTFA is facing over TT$10 million in lawsuits from former employees like coaches Stephen Hart, Carolina Morace and Clayton Morris—all related to decisions made by the John-Williams-led body.

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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5 comments

  1. It’s amazing how Board docs and confidential emails shared with the Board arrives in the media. It shows a high level of unprofessionalism and confidentiality. I wonder who this could be?

  2. Well meh good friend Wayne Mandeville I guess that is how dictator Presidents does operate eh Them really good yes

  3. Uhhhhhh. Interesting perspective by DJW; but ones failure to communicate and respect is not an acceptable excuse not to honor a contractual agreement . We work and there is a reasonable expectation that payment(s) will be made for delivery of service. Just my thoughts