Home / Volley / Global Football / FIFA/Concacaf delegation meets TTFA Board as concerns grow; but are they here to help football? Or DJW?

FIFA/Concacaf delegation meets TTFA Board as concerns grow; but are they here to help football? Or DJW?

A joint high-powered delegation from FIFA and Concacaf met the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s Board in a secret meeting today, as, for the first time, the world governing body betrayed their concern over the instability of the local game under President David John-Williams.

The million dollar question, though, is: exactly who is FIFA and Concacaf here to help?

Is it the embattled TTFA president who not only voted for Gianni Infantino as FIFA president but helped power his campaign through the Caribbean?

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)

Or is it the local football association which is effectively bankrupt and racking up legal losses at an alarming rate, due in large part to John-Williams’ abrasive stewardship?

Veron Mosengo-Omba (Director of Development for Africa and the Caribbean) represented FIFA along with the governing body’s CFO for Strategic Planning while the Concacaf delegation were: Horace Reid (Member Associations department), Howard McIntosh (One Concacaf and Caribbean Projects senior manager) and Alejandro Lesende (CFO).

TTFA President David John-Williams and Vice-President Ewing Davis were there along with Board Members Raeshawn Mars (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon Warrick (Women’s League Football), Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League), Collin Partap (Central Football Association), Keith Look Loy (TTSL), Bandele Kamau (Eastern FA) and Selby Browne (Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago). General Secretary Camara David was also present.

Ostensibly, FIFA/Concacaf requested the meeting to deal with the TTFA’s debt crisis. At present, the local football body’s bank account is frozen while creditors are lining up with court orders in their favour.

The FIFA delegation, according to an insider, were told of a large inherited debt by John-Williams and wanted to hear ideas on dealing with it.

How can you possibly arrive at the correct answer with a flawed question?

John-Williams’ predecessor, Raymond Tim Kee, cut the local football body’s debt—which stood at TT$35 million in 2012—by more than a half in three years, before he was voted out of office in 2015. That debt has been mushrooming ever since while a lack of transparency regarding the TTFA’s finances and ongoing court cases makes it hard to determine the current health of the organisation.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (left) makes a point while Concacaf official Howard McIntosh looks on at the Hyatt hotel on 28 January 2019.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Two years ago, former General Secretary Sheldon Phillips made what now appears to be a prophetic statement, as he linked the TTFA’s escalating woes to John-Williams’ stewardship.

“In this era of ‘wrong and strong’, [the] TTFA leadership persists in acting in a manner that may very well push creditors to seek legal redress and have the TTFA placed in court-appointed administration,” wrote Phillips. “There simply seems to be no evidence of desire on the part of the current TTFA President and its board to pay debt unless creditors go through arduous litigation, win a judgment—at greater expense to the TTFA, I may add—and collect on said judgment.

“This is not a prudent or honourable manner of stewardship of the game; in fact, it marks a further deterioration in the relevance of the sport and general goodwill towards it.”

For FIFA and Concacaf to address the TTFA’s debt without first looking for a possible crisis of leadership there, would be like handing a man an umbrella to face a hurricane.

Not that FIFA brought an umbrella either; they are not in the debt forgiveness business. Rather, the ‘experts’ from Zurich and Miami are here to help fix local problems with ‘knowhow’ and ‘experience’.

Other than the fact that the tourists appeared not to grasp—or pretended not to know—what the problem was in the first place, there were a few tell-tale signs as to how useful their time might be in these climes.

Photo: Point Fortin Civic defender and captain Andre Ettienne (left) forces Defence Force midfielder Curtis Gonzales (centre) to take evasive action during the 2013/2014 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

First, take a look at Trinidad and Tobago’s domestic game. The perennially cash-strapped Pro League has been in existence since 1999 while the Super League was formed in 2003 and redone into the TTSL in 2017.

UEFA and Concacaf delegates insisted that they both be put under the TTFA’s direct watch immediately—coincidentally, in time for the local football body’s elections in November.

Today, the newly proposed ‘T-League’ is in paralysis with neither administrators nor clubs certain as to when they will start with the likelihood of a September kick-off certain to see them out dazzled by the better supported Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) product.

Or consider the fact that Mosengo-Omba was a frequent face at the controversial Home of Football project in Couva and was always ready with a ‘thumbs up’ and helpful quote about how well things were going.

And his response to roughly 80 per cent of the money spent on the FIFA-approved project being unaccounted for and used without Board approval? Eh… That’s an ‘internal problem’.

If that was not enough to make a farce of the FIFA/Concacaf ‘reconciliation mission’—whether financial or otherwise—then two other points jarred alert Board members.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (left) shows FIFA official Veron Mosengo-Omba around the Home of Football in Couva.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

First, Mosengo-Omba admitted that John-Williams and David made a proposal to FIFA to get the TTFA through the current crisis. However, the FIFA official allegedly declined several opportunities at today’s meeting to reveal the details of John-Williams’ offer.

Since FIFA helped frame and ultimately approved the TTFA constitution, Mosengo-Omba should know full well that John-Williams cannot legally represent his association without the support of his Board.

If John-Williams’ perceived dictatorial tendencies have alienated him from local administrators and football supporters, then Mosengo-Omba is in no position to help assuage those fears.

Second, David gave Board members barely 24 hours notice before today’s key meeting and claimed that FIFA and Concacaf only advised of the get-together on Wednesday.

However, there is considerable doubt that this is the case, with one suggestion that FIFA actually served notice to the TTFA a week prior.

Did David intentionally try to mislead his Board? Was the aim to have less participation from stakeholders? As usual, the ruthlessly ambitious General Secretary refused to come clean on his intentions.

Photo: TTFA general secretary Camara David shares a taste of Las Vegas with his Instagram followers.

In such a spirit of distrust on all sides, there is little surprise that the meeting ended without little hint of progress.

Browne, who has recently and suddenly grown fond of John-Williams, proposed that the TTFA be given a loan. However, Mosengo-Omba made it clear that FIFA regulations forbid the local football body from mortgaging the Home of Football while the FIFA Forward Programme funds should not be used to settle debts.

So how can a virtually insolvent TTFA access a loan with no security?

Look Loy’s proposal was that John-Williams and his last remaining vice-president, Davis, resign immediately with an interim president appointed until an election can be held, along with a forensic audit of the TTFA’s finances with specific attention to the Home of Football.

The TTSL President suggested that a new face at the helm could buy time from creditors and make the TTFA more attractive to potential sponsors and investors.

Suffice to say, the FIFA and Concacaf delegates did not ask that Look Loy’s suggestion be put to a vote.

The meeting ended without solution, although the visitors at least had a better understanding of the temperature at the TTFA. And, just so they know, local football stakeholders would be marking their card as well.

This is the land of Jack Warner; we have seen this movie before.

Photo: Ex-TTFA general secretary and CONCACAF president Jack Warner (centre) chats with then FIFA president Joao Havelange (left) and former Germany World Cup coach and captain Franz Beckenbauer.
(Copyright AFP 2014)

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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61 comments

  1. Where are the financial records? From Ollie Camps and Jack Warner to now? How come FIFA and CONCACAF know for the debt status but it is not released in TnT? They are afraid that Home of Football is mortgaged. Remember the CONCACAF Center of Excellence – has this been resolved?

  2. Why the sudden change of heart by Selby? What hath King David promised?

    More immediately, how is the TTFA supposed to function? What of the salaries of its rank and file employees? Outstanding prize monies from past competitions? Training camps and supplies for national teams at all levels? Possible sponsorship monies can’t cover all this and even if it could, are sponsors going to make direct purchases of goods to circumvent direct payments to the TTFA?
    The court of King David is in tatters and the courts of law have left him undone!

  3. Wow, knowing that 99% of the debt was inherited, knowing to date he has cleared over 13 million of inherited debt. Know that 100% of the legal challenges that DJW made was as a result of the previous administration not having any signed contracts for their claims of money. How is it that these facts are never mentioned?

    So he was to just pay any claim that anyone made, without them having any form of evidence or contract for that claim?

    You’ll continue to give the impression that DJW was the one that created the present TTFA DEBT. All claims that had valid proof were settled up to over 13 million to date, good stewardship requires the others to provide the proof of their claims and if need be go to the court to do so.

  4. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

    • Lasana Liburd Orwell, indeed. 1984

    • So wait if FIFA plenty millions of monies isn’t for any dept relief when Football Associations finds themselves in plenty dept especially because of mismanagement or someone stealing plenty millions as in the case of the fellas that was locked up from other countries and then was banned by FIFA for life including our very own corrupted Jack Warner who is waiting to be returned to my second sweetest country to face the courts and then plenty jail what these FIFA and Concacaf really came to our sweet country for eh just to see the Home of Football or maybe for my dictator president to sweet talk them into finding investors and when all is done they will receive plenty kick backs because my dictator president and the other board members must have known that FiFA wouldn’t give them any millions Them really good yes

  5. Oh, and you how it is with true love. Sometimes it’s at first sight. Sometime it takes a while to grow on you. Well, it took some doing but the Big Boss finally get through. A good wokkin ole ting better than a young ting (read between the lines people). After he played hard to get for soooo long, we boy now head over heels in love with the Big Boss. Love is a many splendoured ting.

  6. Why our football is in turmoil, this is unhealthy for our country’s progression in football. We lack basic fundamentals like structure, this is mayhem and will take a lot of work to get ourselves in a adequate position.

  7. The FIFA and CONCACAF responses leave little hope of moving to good governance and transparency. Similarly as to how Wired and Newsday are placing a spotlight, only the pressure of international media will force there hand.

  8. FIFA policy is not to use its funds for debt relief. The precedent of allowing that to any one Association would be calamitous on a global scale. We will see what happens next. In politics, more than at Nike, nothing is impossible.

  9. I would expect that anything that is going to be decided between the visitors will now happen in private and we will just see the results. If anyone else loans money that is their problem. Good to clear up the matter of mortgage and legal costs etc. FIFA or concacaf could have given a one off payment to get the organisation out of debt if they wanted to.

  10. I told the visitors their two organizations could find themselves on the right or wrong side of this issue and of History. It is not good enough for FIFA, in particular, to trot out what I described as “the bureaucratic response” to our concerns and criticisms, which is “that is TTFA’s internal business” Both organizations are supposed to promote good governance, which clearly does not exist in TTFA.

    We all want a solution to the TTFA debt crisis, but the Big Boss and his underlings cannot be part of a meaningful solution because they are the source or the generalized collapse of the Association.

    If FIFA/CONCACAF generate a loan or grant from somewhere this guy will happily receive it and continue in his not so merry ways – a point emphasized by Taylor of the Referees’ Association. Football would be doomed.

  11. Well done to Wired and Newsday. I will just leave it there.

  12. The proverbial cap is in hand it seems, however, the cap may have too many holes though..Still trying to gauge what is the next step? Did they, or will they depart our shores directly after the meeting? Is another meeting in the cards before they depart? Any time table given for follow up after this meeting? Seems like there was a quorom present to discuss scheduling emergency meeting of TTFA board??

  13. From the article I initially thought that we hadn’t got any closer to accountability and transparency but for some reason, I later felt much more hopeful that things are moving forward slowly but surely.

  14. So the meeting ended without any solution so what was the purpose of these FIFA and Concacaf representatives coming to our sweet country Them really good yes

  15. The last line of the article sums it up…How long did FIFA turn a blind eye to JW under Sepp once the Caribbean votes were in his corner? Just exchange the players…You live long enough you see history repeat itself…just like the Mohawk, the Muff and Bell bottom pants. SMH.

  16. Is it a secret how much money they are ‘loaning’ the TTFA. Is it a secret which bank and account the money will be in to avoid the court orders.

  17. You really feel FIFA doh kno or didnt kno wat goin on in TTFA???Birds of a feather flock together…Wat they really trying to get out of all of dis??? November soon come

  18. Great way to open the story.