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Oliver Camps passes away, T&T football’s longest serving president calls time

Trinidad and Tobago’s longest serving football president, Oliver Camps, passed away this morning at the St Clair Medical Centre in Port of Spain.

Camps was 87 years old and, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), was admitted to hospital on 26 December 2018.

Photo: Then TTFF president Oliver Camps (centre) poses with national standout Russell Latapy (left) and team manager David Muhammad.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Camps served as president of the then Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) for 20 years between 1992 and 2012. The second longest term belonged to Ken Galt, who held that role between 1955 and 1965 and again from 1974 to 1978.

During Camps’ tenure, Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the FIFA 2006 World Cup in Germany as well as the 2007 Under-17 and 2009 Under-20 World Youth Cups in the Republic of Korea and Egypt respectively.

The Soca Warriors also achieved its highest ever FIFA ranking of 25th in 2001, during his term as president.

Camps, who was a director at Maritime General Insurance Company, was involved in two of Trinidad and Tobago’s most memorable spells as a technical staff member too. He was team manager when Trinidad and Tobago were controversially denied a spot in the West Germany 1974 World Cup, after dubious officiating saw T&T—inspired by Everald “Gally” Cummings, Steve David and Warren Archibald—fall 2-1 to Haiti.

Camps was manager again in 1989 when the ‘Strike Squad’—then coached by Cummings and featuring the likes of Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke and Clayton “JB” Morris—lost 1-0 to USA in Port of Spain, when only a draw would have secured a place at the Italy 1990 World Cup.

Camps’ time as local football president was synonymous with the influence of Jack Warner. Warner was already FIFA vice-president and Concacaf president when Camps was installed as TTFA president in 1992, and the mild mannered insurance man effectively ceded power to Warner, who he named as special advisor to the local body.

Photo: Then FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (centre) has a word with England football icon David Beckham (left) while England 2018 bid team chairman Lord Triesman looks on.
Beckham was added to the England bid team on Warner’s insistence.
(Copyright CONCACAF)

Despite the aforementioned on-field successes, Camps was president for the infamous 2006 World Cup bonus dispute case when 13 players—including former Premier League stand-out Shaka Hislop and record goal scorer Stern John—successfully sued the football body and exposed appalling financial mismanagement and a lack of transparency within the then TTFF.

Camps was not afforded a dignified exit from football either, as he resigned on 27 October 2011 after FIFA announced that it opened disciplinary proceedings against him for his role in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) bribery scandal on 20 May 2011.

Camps subsequently told UK Channel 4 journalists that he allowed himself to be misled by Warner with regards to several controversial issues.

“If he came to me and told me that there was some transaction… I had confidence in him and I would sign,” Camps told Channel 4. “I am amazed that I did not detect these things at the time but I just didn’t… I feel abused, not only used.”

His admission, during the interview, that he knew bribes were paid at the CFU Congress in the Port of Spain Hyatt Hotel contradicted his previous denials on the matter.

Photo: Former TTFF president Oliver Camps.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Camps’ decision—again allegedly on Warner’s instruction—to register ‘TTFF’ as a limited liability company under his name in 2006 would haunt him, even after his departure from football.

Camps was joined to a case for unpaid salaries by ex-Soca Warriors coach and former Holland World Cup player Wim Rijsbergen and it put his home and other personal assets at risk.

Rijsbergen was owed TT$3.8 million for his work as the TTFA’s National Senior Team head coach.

Then TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee wrote a letter of comfort to Camps on 16 November 2015—on the football body’s letterhead—and promised to settle the debt on the latter’s behalf within 28 days.

However, David John-Williams replaced Tim Kee at the helm of the football body on 30 November 2015 and refused to honour the deal. And Camps, despite lobbying by his daughter Dr Sandra Camps and local cricket president Azim Bassarath, paid the price in January 2016.

It would be Camps’ last time in the local spotlight before his passing on New Year’s Day in 2019.

He had a chequered time at the helm—due, mostly, to the machinations of his controversial special advisor, Warner. But, on a more personal level, Camps was always approachable and affable and, arguably, remained one of local football’s most likeable administrators.

And, despite his unfortunate exit from local football, Camps’ legacy will also remain the three World Cups that Trinidad and Tobago qualified for under his watch, which either capped or launched the careers of stellar names like: Yorke, Latapy, Hislop, John, Carlos Edwards, Dennis Lawrence, Chris Birchall, Kenwyne Jones, Kevin Molino, Sheldon Bateau, Khaleem Hyland and Leston Paul.

John-Williams expressed condolences to the Camps family this afternoon on behalf of the TTFA.

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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48 comments

  1. I am working on it I was up till 3 am writing. It coming

  2. I really don’t know who he always trying to fool eh yuh need to hurry up with your book so the real TRUTH can be told about the Strike Squad amongst other things that occurred eh Earl Carter and I know that it with definitely be a bestest seller Them really good yes

  3. And the corrupted Jack Warner had some nerves to say that the nation let down his friend Camps eh a 49 yrs friendship , when he had to mortgaged his house over 3 million monies or more to pay the Dutch Coach eh and lost his house, so why the corrupted Jack Warner didn’t pay the Dutch Coach the monies that was owed to him eh after making millions in 2006 eh some friend Jack Warner really good yes

  4. Yes, Olliver Camps did a lot for football and mortgaged his home, but where are the financial records, especially for World cup 2006? And yes you built the Home of Football, there is no transparency but you have your supporters – but what will happen in the near future before the Home of Football is mortgaged and also lost! Any similarity?? JW to JW!

  5. Of course he was his bestest leader because he made the corrupted Jack Warner rich rich rich while signing papers for him and as he said , Jack made him do wrong things, but it was the flying in Jack Warner private jet and all the other goodies that he got from Jack Warner in which other country any President of any football Association ever rules for 20 yrs eh Them really good yes

  6. Oliv­er Camps, the for­mer T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent was hailed as the best leader of lo­cal foot­ball ever.
    http://www.guardian.co.tt/sports/warner-camps-best-football-president-6.2.752203.022ded9bc5

  7. FORMER FIFA vice-president Jack Warner said ex-head of the TT Football Federation (now TT Football Association) Oliver Camps will be forever remembered for focusing on improving the character of people, and not the construction of buildings.
    https://newsday.co.tt/2019/01/09/warner-camps-legacy-is-building-people/

  8. The was the real live for the people and the sports

  9. He was responsible for the development of our football , really, and he always had an ear and always addresses the concerns of the players, so how come he didn’t make certain that the players got plenty monies the same as the 2006 World Cup team eh, but instead they got not one penny because when Marlon Morris was telling the Captain for them to sign a document making certain that they to eat ah food because plenty monies was going to be made from the game eh the Captain told him, nah man doh worry about that and I wonder why, well plenty folks the same like Camps doesn’t believe in Karma nah hence the reason why he had to pay back out of his pockets plenty millions of monies to the Dutch Coach Them really good yes Earl Carter

  10. Where are the financial records for World Cup 2006?

  11. THE funeral service for Oliver Camps, former president of the T&T Football Federation, will take place on Tuesday at St Finbar’s Roman Catholic Church, Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin, at 10.30 am.
    https://newsday.co.tt/2019/01/04/funeral-for-camps-on-tuesday/

  12. The reason for the state of our football in our sweet country Hannibal Najjar and it still continues today, especially when the wrong leaders are being selected….Them really good yes

  13. Some people’s loyalty, Earl, are their staunchest quality, and, this sometimes even when they see and may know that the person that they are being loyal to, is doing something that they themselves would not do. I can say that, Oliver Camps has always shown me to be one that may have seen the mudplay but not a, mudplayer. I know brother, it is hard to stay clean when, those you play with are in the mud. Let us give Olie the benefit of the doubt Earl – recall what Christ said in Mark 2:17 – “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Maybe, Oliver Camps, was a doctor even though many might say that he may have failed as a doctor or that the patient’s or patients’ sickness is beyond cure.

  14. But.sorry to say he was just a puppet on a string for the bestest con artist in the World hence the reason why he said that the corrupted Jack Warner made him do the wrong things Them really good yes

  15. My sincerest thoughts go out to the family and very close friends of Oliver Camps. I knew Camps from my Tranquil, primary schools days where he and my father would hunt in the “jungles” of Beeche and Manzanilla. Oliver Camps was a person that had at least two top notch qualities – he was a kind, gentle, and good person and he loved his country and wanted to use sport, and especially football, to bring greater hope and positive outcomes for our youth and nation. His somewhat shackled position in his football function handicapped his ability to achieve more as they relate to youth and country. I had lots of time for Camps and he returned this respect to me. He was never not kind or sincere, and always sought to be informative and to put the best package together for the long run – after all, his insurance expertise had to have carried over. Good man, lived a good and peaceful life, loved life and people, and let me tell you, you never want to race walk with Oliver “Olie” Camps – that man would silence all.

  16. Condolences to his family, may he R.I.P.

  17. Condolences. But where are the financial records for World Cup 2006.

  18. Rest in eternal peace Mr.camps…condolences to his family…

  19. Condolences to all his family and friends! 🙁

  20. Not talking about Camps but his associate

  21. We must not speak ill of the dead…..so let mih take mih own advice and move on from this thread…

  22. Sad to see him go God’s gift of live as he leaves to meet him RIP Sir

  23. Sorry to hear him passed away but he failed miserably as LEADER.He is part of the reason our football Is What iIt Is!!

  24. Businessman and con man is cousin.

  25. Knew Ollie from a when I was a 12year old boy at harvard sports club where he was president of the club. Dealt with him as a sportswriter in his capacity as football manager to president of ttfa.
    Always true to what he was about.
    He was not nicknamed ‘Red Eric’ without reason.
    RIP, my friend

  26. He was totally mistreated for his lifetime of Service.
    And fell for the uncle jack snake’s twisted venom

  27. My sincerest condolences to a dear good friend of mine. He had a heart of gold! A decent and respectable man who always had a nice word to say about people. May he rest in eternal peace