Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Justin Latapy-George refused comment on allegations of dishonesty against him and president David John-Williams by Women’s National Senior Team manager Jinelle James.
However, inadvertently, Latapy-George hinted that John-Williams’ use of his staff might be creating issues within the organisation and sending mixed messages to the public.
Yesterday, the TTFA issued an unsigned statement which accused James of approaching the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs for funding without the approval of John-Williams and Latapy-George. And the football body further stated it had not sought funding from the government and “is currently seeking alternative financial support.”
Even as the football body was so advised the public, Latapy-George was submitting a proposal for funding to the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs—with a budget drawn up by James and himself.
“I met with the minister [Shamfa Cudjoe] on Friday along with Jinelle James,” Latapy-George told Wired868. “We were asked to submit a formal request for funding and, based on that instruction, Jinelle and I worked on a budget, which was submitted by noon [yesterday] to Mr [Anthony] Creed copying the director of sport [Patrice Charles].
“Creed asked that the budget be changed to sub-totals and that was done this morning.”
Further, Latapy-George said that, notwithstanding the TTFA claim to be seeking alternatives to the government, John-Williams and board member Richard Quan Chan accompanied him to the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs today to seek funding. He opted not to disclose whether their request was successful, although, last week, minister Shamfa Cudjoe promised to help once possible.
“The Ministry articulated a position [to us today] but it is for the Ministry to identify what that is,” said Latapy-George. “What I can report to you, is what I did as general secretary.”
So who was responsible for the TTFA press statement yesterday, which was also posted on the local football body’s website? And did Latapy-George approve of James’ initial approach to the Sport Ministry—a claim she supported by producing an email sent to the general secretary and football president?
Did the TTFA general secretary stand by the press statement issued by his own organisation, which directly contradicted the Women Soca Warriors team manager?
“I came into football with a professional reputation and, whenever I leave football, I intend to leave with the same professional reputation I came with—plus the experience I gained,” said Latapy-George. “With that particular release, you need to have a conversation with the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association [John-Williams].”
Wayne Cunningham, who serves a dual role as board member and press officer—despite the TTFA membership’s insistence that he choose one from the two positions—confirmed to Wired868 that John-Williams issued Monday’s press statement.
(Coincidentally, the contents of the statement were revealed two days earlier by I95.5FM reporter Andre Baptiste, whose contractual relationship with John-Williams remains a mystery and concern for the TTFA membership).
“That statement come from the president,” said Cunningham, “so you can go ahead and say that.”
The TTFA constitution says its administrative arm or general secretariat (article 20.4) shall “carry out all the administrative work of TTFA under the direction of the general secretary (article 58).”
The general secretary is further referred to as “the chief executive officer of the general secretariat” (article 59.1) with direct responsibility for “organising the general secretariat (article 59.3h).”
However, Cunningham admitted that it is customary for John-Williams to totally bypass Latapy-George and directly instruct members of the general secretariat. Monday’s release was not approved by the TTFA board either.
“That is normal,” said Cunningham. “He is the president, so he can make a statement.”
“But even then—if you forget about whether that statement was cleared by the board or passed through the general secretary,” said Wired868, “the release did not say it was a statement by the president either. All it said was that it came from the ‘TTFA’…”
“Yes,” said Cunningham, “but that is normal.”
Latapy-George said he believed James’ stinging retort today—which accused the football body of a “chauvinistic and misogynistic” approach—was based on Monday’s release, which did not involve him. He stopped short of directly contradicting the TTFA statement or responding to the team manager’s allegations.
“I have never and will never engage in a public forum with matters—whether good or bad—between employees I am entrusted with supervising,” said Latapy-George. “I never have and never will—and that is whether by release or comment.
“[…] It is poor managerial practise to engage in any matters that may arise internally to engage in those matters publicly. My training, experience and previous employers would attest to that. It is not good practice.
“As such, I reserve the right to have a discussion with Ms James in a private setting under the umbrella of the TTFA.”
John-Williams did not respond to Wired868’s request for comment on his manner of instructing TTFA staff without seeking approval or alerting the board and/or general secretary. It is just one of a stream of constitutional violations that appear to have been committed by the controversial president.
On Monday, he revealed two more possible breaches in black and white.
“The Head of the technical committee on the advice of the Technical Director and team manager, made a recommendation to confirm Mr Shawn Cooper as Head coach of the team for only the Concacaf final Round to be held in the USA,” stated the TTFA statement, issued by John-Williams. “To expedite the process, the Head of the Technical Committee and Board Member prudently round robin (sic) the recommendation for board approval.
“Of the nine eligible voting members on board, five gave approval of the recommendation, one abstained and three did not approve of the round robin process. Mr Cooper has since been (sic) confirmed to the position.”
Apart from the issue as to whether Quan Chan was ever properly appointed as chair of the technical committee, which Quan Chan admitted was non-functional, the board has 12 members but John-Williams refused to acknowledge three members—who all voted against the proposed appointment—on the apparent grounds that they were provisional members.
The constitution does not deny provisional members any of the rights guaranteed to board members.
More to the point, article 37.2 suggests that Quan Chan’s attempt to find consensus by email—which John-Williams described as “prudent”—was actually illegal.
Article 37.2: “The Board of Directors shall reach decisions by a majority (more than 50%) of the valid votes cast. In the event of a tied vote, the President shall have the casting vote. Voting by proxy or by letter is not permitted.”