The future of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Justin Latapy-George could be the latest touch paper within the fractious football body, as board member Keith Look Loy vowed to resist president David John-Williams’ attempt to replace the general secretary next month.
Latapy-George’s term with the TTFA expires on 30 November 2018—a fact that was unknown even to board members, since John-Williams has refused to share several employment contracts with his board.
Earlier this month, John-Williams told Latapy-George that he should start looking for a new job.
“Dear Justin, reference is made to our meeting of yesterday afternoon and my commitment to respond to you by the end of the day,” stated the TTFA president, in a written correspondence. “Feel free to pursue your options beyond the end of your contract [on] 30 November 2018. Let us discuss how we will handle the transition period.”
The potential parting of ways between the pair closely follows Latapy-George’s publicised issues with his boss’ leadership, which reached its nadir on 22 September 2018 when the general secretary admitted to keeping the board in the dark about the resignation of vice-president Joanne Salazar.
Latapy-George insisted that he acted on written instructions from John-Williams and leaked emails appeared to confirm as much. The ramifications of Salazar’s controversial departure—and the possibility that the president fraudulently counted a vote from his departed vice-president in his first attempt to appoint Shawn Cooper as Women’s National Senior Team coach—will almost certainly be raised at the TTFA AGM on 24 November.
If John-Williams has his way, it will be Latapy-George’s last AGM as general secretary. Look Loy insisted that he will resist any such move and he encouraged board members to do likewise.
“The constitution says John-Williams cannot dismiss anybody, he can only recommend,” Look Loy told Wired868. “Despite, as I put it before, Latapy’s sins of omission, commission and submission, what he has been doing is following orders by John-Williams; and now he has seen the light and that the members of the public and the the board would not accept that.
“Latapy is not the culprit there… I want to see Latapy’s contract extended by a year, so that he finishes this term—if John-Williams lasts that long.
“Now that [Latapy-George] sees the board is his master and not John-Williams, hopefully he will give his loyalty to the TTFA members and not John-Williams going forward.
“John-Williams cannot fire him.”
Latapy-George declined comment but suggested that he too believes his fate lies in the board’s hands.
“[My job] is a matter to be discussed by the board, so I won’t want to comment on that,” he said. “It is up to the president to make his recommendation as to continue or not continue; and it is up to the board to either accept or reject it.
“I would prefer not to comment beyond what the constitution says.”
Article 36 (f) of the TTFA constitution states that the board of directors “shall appoint or dismiss the general secretary on the proposal of the president.”
The word “shall”—as opposed to “may”—arguably leaves little wiggle room for the board and it is unclear how the president could be compelled to re-hire an employee. But Look Loy is adamant that he will put that article to the test.
John-Williams’ own control of the TTFA board might have taken another blow this week, as his ally and press officer Wayne Cunningham was removed from the board with immediate effect by the new administration of the Eastern Football Association of Trinidad and Tobago (EFATT).
At the last AGM, the TTFA’s membership declared that Cunningham could be a board member or press officer; but not both. However, Cunningham refused to give up either position—he claimed he was a paid consultant and not an employee—and the board, guided by John-Williams, voted to ignore the concern of its members and keep him in place.
Cunningham failed to survive until the AGM anyway, as the removal of EFATT president Linus Sanchez on 6 September 2018 led to a change of direction by the zone. On Tuesday, EFATT general secretary Royette James informed Latapy-George that the zone now wanted to be represented on the board by its interim president Bandele Kamau.
Kamau will now become a provisional board member until his position is ratified by the membership at the upcoming AGM.
Cunningham’s exit, the resignation of two vice-presidents, Allan Warner and Salazar, the suspension of Eastern Counties Football Union (ECFU) president Sherwyn Dyer for non-compliance, and the replacement of representatives for the Central Football Association (CFA) and Women’s League Football (WoLF), Samuel Saunders and Sharon O’Brien respectively, saw John-Williams’ unstinting electoral strength at board level drop significantly from a stranglehold of 10 from 13 members to its current low of four from 11.
The current board comprises of John-Williams (president), Ewing Davis (vice-president), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon Warrick (WoLF), Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League), Collin Partap (CFA), Look Loy (Trinidad and Tobago Super League) and Kamau (EFATT).
Davis, Quan Chan and Moore have resolutely supported John-Williams throughout virtually every crisis, while the other seven members have defied the president with increasing regularity.
However, John-Williams has engineered a majority by refusing to acknowledge the voting rights of a third of his board, as he claimed—without offering evidence from the constitution—that provisional members are not allowed to vote.
The president’s controversial interpretation, which was contradicted by one of the framers of the constitution, Osmond Downer, means that WoLF, CFA, Pro League and, now, EFATT, are all denied the chance to vote at board meetings.
Partap, an attorney, has offered to get senior legal advice on the marginalisation of provisional members and the board promised to listen. However, once John-Williams has the support of the majority of persons allowed to vote, the president could potentially use his voting bloc to dismiss any contrary opinion.
John-Williams has not set a date for the next board meeting yet.
At present, the TTFA has no functioning standing committees, although John-Williams is in his third year of office.
On Saturday 23 December 2017, the football president named members for the TTFA’s judicial committees, who were as follows:
Disciplinary: Newton George (chair), Auldrin Neptune (vice-chair), Sushilla Jadoonanan, John Jeffrey and Norris Ferguson (members).
Ethics: Cedric Neptune (chair), Cheryl Wallace (vice-chair), Dr Beverly Beckles (member).
Appeals: Michael Quamina (chair), Sandra Elcock-Stanisclaus (vice-chair).
Audit and Compliance: Rodney Smart (chair), Ann-Marie Abbott (vice-chair), Kit Kennedy (member).
“The standing committees were all ratified at the AGM of 23 December,” said Latapy-George. “However, they have not met in any form. They are active but not functional.
“[…] I can’t say why they have not met.”
Among other things, the non-functioning status of the judicial bodies means there is no disciplinary committee to which Women’s National Senior Team star Kennya “Yaya” Cordner can be referred to, after she refused to represent her country in a Concacaf fixture against the United States, earlier this month.
Although John-Williams admitted that the TTFA is essentially bankrupt and unable to pay its coaches or prepare its teams, he has never formally appointed a finance or marketing standing committee and appeared to have handled those functions himself.