Home / Volley / Global Football / TTFA president gives critics the slip; DJW survives EGM without handing over construction or I95 contracts

TTFA president gives critics the slip; DJW survives EGM without handing over construction or I95 contracts

“I hereby move a motion to compliment the President for the yeomen effort he has given to advance our beloved game,” said Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTRFA) vice-president Osmond Downer, during last night’s TTFA EGM, “but also censure the President for the way in which he approached the [Home of Football] project singlehandedly.”

It was as close as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) membership got to holding its maverick president, David John-Williams, accountable for multiple constitutional violations, during yesterday’s Extraordinary General Meeting at the Cycling Centre in Couva.

Photo: Prime Minister Keith Rowley (centre) is introduced to former Brazil World Cup captain Cafu (second from left) and Jamaica World Cup player Ricardo Gardner (left) before an exhibition match at Soogrim Trace Grounds, Laventille on 31 July 2017.
At right is TTFA president David John-Williams.
(Courtesy Matthew Lee Kong/CA-images/Wired868)

The membership ordered John-Williams, two months ago, to produce all contracts and invoices related to a US$2.25 million Home of Football project, an update of all the football body’s creditors, a breakdown of money spent to lawyers, coaches and staff, and a contract for whatever arrangement existed between the TTFA and I95.5FM.

Whether the football president properly satisfied a single one of those requests is a matter for debate.

But by the time the EGM came to an end at around 11pm—it started at 5.31pm—John-Williams had gotten his 2016 financial statement approved, staved off his most vociferous critics, and displayed enough strength in supporter numbers to suggest that he is not nearly as vulnerable as many might have felt beforehand.

How did he pull it off?

First, there was the presentation of the information.

“[John-Williams] showed a generic video with FIFA members explaining the level of control and oversight they exercise over [projects like the Home of Football],” said one member, who spoke to Wired868 on condition of anonymity. “So some members said if FIFA is overseeing the project, then that is good enough for them.”

If you can’t trust FIFA, the members presumably thought, who can you trust?

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino (right) and TTFA president David John-Williams at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

John-Williams, with assistance from ex-Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) general secretary Camara David, responded to his members’ requests for detailed information on his body’s spending with a powerpoint presentation that offered enough figures to make his audience dizzy.

He held up a massive ledger too, which he said contained every purchase made by the football body.

According to article 27.3 of the TTFA’s constitution, members should receive all relevant information for its AGM in writing “at least 14 days” in advance of the meeting. This would allow members time to go over the information properly, so as to be prepared to raise pertinent questions.

But John-Williams did not do so. And he refused to send the financial information after the meeting too.

“He said the file was too big to send,” said another member, “and he was afraid the information would be leaked.”

John-Williams’ fear of leaks was a theme throughout the meeting—according to multiple sources—and his only target appeared to be Wired868.

Or, as Eastern Football Association (EFA) representative Dharia Nelson-Seales supposedly put it: “As you walk outside, Wired868 will have it….”

Nelson-Seales and North East Stars administrator Michael Awai, who made his first appearance at a TTFA meeting last night, appeared to be John-Williams’ most vocal supporters.

Photo: 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)

For the members who were not suitably impressed by John-Williams’ presentations and explanations, Nelson-Seales played the role of “bad cop”.

“Mr Selby Browne, Mr Osmond Downer, Mr Keith Look Loy and Mr Clynt Taylor are the individuals who constantly interrupt the meeting asking a lot of questions,” Nelson-Seales told the meeting. “We’re dealing with this issue for several months now and it is time for us to move on and stop talking about it!”

An irate Clynt Taylor, the Central Football Association (CFA) general secretary, retorted through a point of order.

“I am here to represent a member and if I am not satisfied with the answers given, I have a right to keep asking until I am satisfied,” said Taylor, “and the member should not imply that we should shut up!”

In truth though, many officials did appear to be wary of the multiple meetings that either ended as soon as they started—without a quorum—or went on for hours.

So when a vote was called to pass the TTFA’s financial statement, despite not having copies of the relevant documentation, members said “yes” by a landslide.

Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) president Selby Browne registered the only vote against, while CFA representatives Allan Logan and Taylor abstained. Twenty six other members voted in favour of passing the audit—including FC Santa Rosa official Jason Laban.

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

TTSL and Santa Rosa president Keith Look Loy was ineligible to vote, since he is a TTFA Board member.

For the most part, Browne and Look Loy beat a lonely path as they tried to pin John-Williams to straight answers.

“Chairman, tell me do you have a contract with [I95.5FM reporter] Andre Baptiste?” asked Browne.

“No, I have no contract with Andre Baptiste,” John-Williams replied.

“Chairman, do you have a contract with I95.5?” asked Browne.

“No, I do not,” responded the TTFA president.

“Chairman, does the TTFA have a contract with Andre Baptiste?” asked Browne.

“No, it does not,” responded John-Williams.

“Chairman, does the TTFA have a contract with I95.5?” asked Browne.

The TTFA president, according to a source, smirked.

“There is a working arrangement [with I95.5],” said John-Williams.

Photo: I95.5FM reporter and former Toyota manager Andre Baptiste (left) with then TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre).

“Who approved this arrangement?” asked Look Loy.

The TTFA president did not answer. But Nelson-Seales did.

“A point of order, Mr Chairman,” she said. “Can we move on?”

She does not even understand what “a point of order” means, snickered one observer.

John-Williams showed only one page that was supposedly part of a contract for the Home of Football, but the print was so small that members struggled to make out the words.

“What was supposed to have been presented to this meeting in keeping with the mandate of the AGM,” said Browne, “is the documents of approval by the Board [for the Home of Football project] and several other documents that were required.”

John-Williams, according to another source, said he could not remember that the motion required that of him.

Uproar ensued, as members debated over whether it was necessary for John-Williams to produce the contracts since, according to the president, they were right there in his office.

John-Williams’ office, incidentally, was five minutes walk from the EGM but he did not offer to get them.

Photo: VFFOTT president Selby Browne (left) with his wife at the 2015 Wired868 Football Festival.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“He cannot release such information to the Board if he cannot trust in the confidentiality of the Board,” said Awai.

“Everyone in the meeting knows who [the leak] is,” said John-Williams, who vowed to introduce a code of conduct to the Board with a non-disclosure agreement. “From the time you finish with the meeting, it would be on Wired868!”

“Are you mad?!” Browne asked, rhetorically. “I have never heard such stupidity in my life. It is you who are required to seek the permission from the Board, not the other way around…”

“You are not the king of the TTFA and we are not your subjects,” said Look Loy. “We don’t have to sign anything to get what is our right.”

Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president William Wallace suggested that the TTFA should not try to legislate for ethics, as far as leaks were concerned.

“If you are doing the correct thing and the proper thing, why you should want to hide it from the media?” asked Wallace. “The Board is made up of representatives from different bodies and they have a right to report back to their members, who can then tell anybody.”

Look Loy tried to keep the meeting focused on the controversial Home of Football contracts.

Photo: A site for new training pitches at the TTFA’s Home of Football in Couva.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

“One man is in control of a pot of money amounting to TT$15 million and is disbursing money that nobody knows about and accounting to no one,” said Look Loy. “That is a recipe for corruption and anyone who disagrees is not being honest.”

“If I run to the Board for everything,” John-Williams supposedly fired back, “there will be meetings every week.”

“FIFA insists on confidentiality for use of their money,” said Awai, who could not support the statement when challenged.

Look Loy and Browne repeated their threats to call for a police investigation into the Home of Football.

“Mr Chairman, can we move on?!” asked Nelson-Seales.

Conspicuous by his silence was Northern Football Association (NFA) president Anthony Harford.

“I had a lot to say but thought it best I use another occasion to talk,” said Harford. “I can’t explain. It was a vibe. You go to a meeting, you get a vibe and you instruct yourself [accordingly].”

Downer stepped in with what appeared to be a compromise.

“Yes, the President did something good in this project for the advancement of football,” said the former St Augustine Secondary principal and FIFA referee, “but he did it in the wrong way by not following the constitution…”

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (second from right) poses with then 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)

And then he moved a motion that simultaneously flattered and rebuked John-Williams. Still, Awai resisted.

“That word ‘censure’ is too strong,” said Awai. “I would like to amend the motion and put the word ‘reprimand’.”

Downer stood his ground and it provoked another lengthy discussion, as both sides made their cases for and against ‘censure’.

“A reprimand is a mild thing—a rap on the knuckles,” said Downer. “But what the President has admitted to doing, in not getting approval from the Board is a very serious thing…”

“I never admitted to that!” John-Williams shot back.

In the end, though, nine persons voted for ‘reprimand’ with roughly 22 votes for ‘censure’.

A reprimand, according to the dictionary, is “a formal expression of disapproval”. Censure is defined as “the formal expression of severe disapproval”.

John-Williams entered last night’s meeting fearing a no confidence motion or a probe by the Fraud Squad. At the death, his only immediate spot of bother was some wordplay.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) performs a duet with former Calypso Monarch, Cro Cro, at the launch of the National Elite Youth Development Program at the Trinidad Hilton on 14 October 2016.

It was, almost certainly, a triumphant night for the beleaguered football president.

By the following morning, Browne was looking for positives as well.

“The motion moved by Mr Downer last night of praise but to censure the president for his not subscribing to the Constitution, to which the meeting agreed,” said Browne, in a letter to the membership, “is far reaching and presents a great opportunity for the new TTFA.

“I am of the view that the message has been fully conveyed to the President that he must follow the TTFA Constitution to the letter on all matters.

“The introduction of this new constitution for the TTFA and all football associations including FIFA itself, to remove the past days of ‘Onemanism’ now represents the new day for football administration, and with respect to the TTFA presents the dawn of a new era hopefully.”

Pro League CEO and TTFA Board member Julia Baptiste was also in an optimistic mood.

“I must say that last evening’s meeting was a positive one to me,” said Baptiste, in another email. “I am also of the view that going forward, good accountability and transparency is key to the proper functioning of the TTFA. I agree with Mr Browne that adherence to the constitution—as well as a review to establish a framework for a return of Trinidad and Tobago Football to its glory days and as such a force to be reckoned with within Concacaf—is paramount.

Photo: Then Pro League secretary Julia Baptiste (right) presents then Central FC coach Terry Fenwick with a Blue Waters Coach of the Month award.
(Courtesy TT Pro League)

“Additionally, as offered by Mr Downer, I await the draft Code of Conduct/NDA as I also see it as a means of going forward.

“[…] We have been entrusted with the responsibility for football in Trinidad and Tobago at this time and we are responsible for its growth or demise by the things we do and say and the way we chose to behave… Let’s be watchdogs and not mad-dogs.

“[…] Let’s build stronger, better and more lasting and meaningful relationships within the football fraternity by not just looking for weakness but building on our strengths for ‘together we are stronger’.”

Look Loy sent out an email too, although there was less flowery language or motivational-speak.

He asked to examine contracts for all 15 companies retained by the the football body for the Home of Football project, as well as the ledgers of the TTFA’s financial transactions for the period 1 January 2016 to 13 June 2018.

“Adherence to the constitution coupled with the successful bid by the CONCACAF to host the FIFA World Cup 2026,” said Look Loy, “provides an excellent opportunity to review and immediately take proper decisions to establish the framework for a return of Trinidad and Tobago football to the number one spot in the Concacaf.

Photo: Grenada winger Ricky Modeste (left) holds off Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“Given your circulation of a status report on the ongoing project works at Couva, as well as the proceedings and conclusions of the EGM of 13 June 2018, I hereby request the opportunity to examine the [contracts, invoices and receipts of payment pertaining to] the following companies…

“I also request the opportunity to examine any contract awarded to the Project Manager…”

According to another anonymous source, Look Loy’s perseverance and spunk were vital tools for local football. But, at the same time, his best efforts were unlikely to bear much fruit.

“The problem is we have a weak board and David will keep on doing what he is doing and they will say nothing,” he said. “And Keith will continue to talk but he is the lone voice in the wilderness and they will not take him on. Yet still, if he is not there, David will just do what he wants with nobody questioning him.

“[…] Yesterday, David was very evasive and he just would not answer some questions. And in the end, members seemed to reach a stage where they just wanted to move on.”

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams enjoys himself at head coach Tom Saintfiet’s maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

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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11 comments

  1. 👏👏👏 A man who understand that our fish head is rotten.

  2. I am surprised at individuals who are comfortable with the current leadership at TTFA. Quite frankly, it appears to be analogous to the Pig in George Orwell’s classic book – Animal Farm. My feedback from questioning my north zone representatives indicate little or no transparency, one-manism and spineless executive personnel. Folks, let’s be real, a significant percentage of the football administrators do not care about the most important stakehoder in the mix, namely the footballer. Where is the discussion surrounding players pension, players insurance, programs for careers after football, the role and funding of ‘life’ coaches, programs, player endorsement and promotion programs, personnel training support personnel… and don’t mention improved salaries – this is a bad word. North East Stars have taken it to a new level and confirmed that they would reduce salaries and implement a new model – no more than 2000 dollars a month and train hard and hope that yuh get an outside contract. The focus seems to be on trips, disbursement of contracts and focusing on the old political survival saying – ‘the name of the game is staying in the game’… at all costs; even if the new leadership is going against one of its principled centered canmpaign pledges.

    And it is this type of leadership why I walked away from football administration. I soon realized that all my hard work within the ‘foundational trenches’ (TV/radio commentary, TTFA technical Committee member, North zone football club organiser, local football author, etc.) was only benefiting those at the Super-structural leadership level. After digging deep into a sociological explanation for this continued leadership quagmire I contend that one of the reasons is deep and can partly be explained by the non-positive and vicissitudinal effects of colonialism which messed up the current era of black leadership – they are treating their own poorly and with scant respect becuase of their own poor self-concept.

    Why do we continue to accept this type of leadership? I for one will not support this administration and will advise my fellow business supporters not to do so. Moreover, I always urge the young footballers to focus on their non-football careers and not rely on this bunch of leaders to seek their interest.

    With that being said, I hope that one day we will eventually elect the principled centered leadership that we deserve.
    Peace be with you all
    mm

  3. “Mr Selby Browne, Mr Osmond Downer, Mr Keith Look Loy and Mr Clynt Taylor are the individuals who constantly interrupt the meeting asking a lot of questions,” Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal,it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable and perfectly legitimate, it is a baited and camouflaged trap….. Some Super League Clubs are now wiser

  4. What a waste. He will continue having his way since he is answerable to no one

  5. The Age of Stupidity continues. I’m an impartial onlooker and if one cannot see foolishness when it’s staring them in the face, if one is guided by the same selfishness that pervades the society, will we ever grow?
    Questions to answer?
    Has football improved from grassroots up since the new administration has taken over?
    Do our kids see Trinidad football beyond the false glory of school football?
    Have we built upon our successes of 2006?
    Is this new administration any different from the past, indeed from the start haven’t they displayed the very same behaviors?
    Football is one of our few unifying activities an escape from the some of the stress of Trini life, yet a lot of members in that group would probably decry ” d gov’t, d crime, d corruption!” But look in the mirror…
    Shame on all who can’t see beyond their noses tht it isn’t about them. It is abt the youth. Our future.. foolish ppl.
    Real Animal Farm business.

  6. So all that happened was the president frustrated the membership into not actually getting any real answers and he will continue his merry way an then years later when he leaves or gets votes out we will hear about all the corruption. Normal thing here !!!

  7. Hahaha!! Bunch of jokers ask Keith Look Loy why it has teams playing in the Super League who still ain’t pay off their registration and others were blanked with their cheques in hand!?! Hypocrisy to the highest! !