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TTFA axes Men’s Olympic Team; Camara appears to contradict FIFA on Home of Football

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Camara David has confirmed that the local football body will not participate in the Tokyo 2020 Men’s Olympic qualifying series. David, via a press statement, said the football body’s decision was due to ‘financial difficulties’ and because the Olympic Games was a ‘difficult competition to qualify for’.

The TTFA’s move follows closely on the heels of strong criticism by designated Olympic coach Angus Eve, who argued that football president David John-Williams was ruling over the deterioration of the local game while he pumps money into the controversial Home of Football project.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National U-23 coach designate, Angus Eve, has criticised TTFA president David John-Williams’ stewardship of the local game.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Eve’s critique prompted a lengthy rebuttal by John-Williams, via a recorded press statement, while David also attempted to defend the project.

“The TTFA sees the light at the end of the tunnel as we expect to open the highly anticipated ‘Home of Football Project’ later this year,” stated David, “with a grand 72-room hotel and a Sports and Entertainment Centre.

“It must be noted that FIFA mandates all of its members to use its FIFA Forward monies to construct these facilities first, before it can be used for other activities.”

David’s claim regarding the use of FIFA Forward money is not supported by the world governing body’s public or private stance with regards to its grants.

The money available annually through the FIFA Forward project, according to its website, is split between US$500,000 for operational and administrative costs, a further US$500,000 once certain set objectives are met (including active national men’s and women’s teams and league competitions) and another US$500,000 for use on development related, in particular, to football infrastructure.

Essentially, one third of the FIFA Forward money available to member associations is intended for use on infrastructure and not, as David hinted, the entire thing.

Further, FIFA does not mandate that all member associations have a Home of Football. Instead, it says only that the TTFA must have ‘at least one stadium/pitch allowing international matches to be played, suitable association headquarters, and a functioning technical centre’.

Photo: (From right) TTFA president David John-Williams, Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe and FIFA official Veron Mosengo-Omba inspect the TTFA’s Home of Football in Couva on 20 August 2018.
(Courtesy MSYA)

And a CONCACAF official, speaking under condition of anonymity, told Wired868 that the world governing body would have had no problem with the TTFA using the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva as its base, rather than setting off to build a 72-room hotel. Instead of building its own facilities, the TTFA could have used the money to upgrade facilities at any of the national stadium as part of a lease deal instead.

Like John-Williams, David did not call a press conference so his claims could be questioned by journalists.

The TTFA general secretary’s allegation on the Home of Football was not his only claim that seemed to require further interrogation. David stated that: “with the limited funding available, and eleven national teams to service, the TTFA has taken the decision that in moving forward we must not increase the debt of the FA and thus we must prioritise which tournaments are a must to participate in.”

He then listed the competitions that the TTFA ‘pledged its funds’ to participate in as: the CFU Boys and Girls Under-14 Challenge Series, the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 and Under-20 Championships, the Concacaf Boys Under-15 Championships, the Men’s Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League and the Women’s Olympic qualifiers.

However, neither the Boys or Girls Challenge Series are required competitions and there is no Concacaf equivalent for the Under-14 competition. That is if those tournaments will take place at all, since there is no sign of either online.

Similarly, it is uncertain whether there will be Women’s Under-17 and Under-20 competitions this year since both were held in 2018 and Concacaf usually stages them biennially.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Laurelle Theodore (left) pressures Canada right back Emma Regan during CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 20 January 2018.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

At least two players expected to be in the pool for the Men’s National Under-23 Team reacted with scorn to the TTFA release.

Former National Under-17 Team captain and Florida Gulf Coast University midfielder, Kareem ‘Enzo’ Riley: “… The Trinidad and Tobago Failure Association strikes again.”

Presentation College (San Fernando) ace midfielder, Jordan Riley (no relation): “Need to get citizenship somewhere else yes… I feel Venezuela football system better.”

Riley (J), a youth team player with W Connection which is owned by John-Williams, subsequently deleted his post.

Ironically, although the TTFA appeared to opt for the Women’s Olympic Team rather than the Men’s version, the Men’s programme is generally cheaper to run since most of the women players live abroad while the Women Soca Warriors do not have a head coach at present.

Wired868 can confirm that the Board did not agree to scupper the Men’s Olympic Team and it is uncertain whether the decision was made by the newly constituted TTFA emergency committee, which comprises of: John-Williams (president), Ewing Davis (vice-president), Selby Browne (VFFOTT), Quan Chan (SFA), Anthony Moore (TFA) and Bandele Kamau (EFA).

Photo: Presentation College (San F’do) winger Jordan Riley (right) tries to escape from St Benedict’s College defender Merlik Campbell during SSFL action in Marabella on 26 September 2018.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

And while David’s assertion regarding the importance of its Home of Football appears unsupported by FIFA, the TTFA president and general secretary glossed over the actual requirements for additional money from the world governing body.

Photo: Presentation College (San F’do) winger Jordan Riley (right) tries to escape from St Benedict’s College defender Merlik Campbell during SSFL action in Marabella on 26 September 2018.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

According to FIFA, each member association will receive US$50,000 for each of these specific activities it has in place:

  1. A nationwide men’s competition (championship, league or cup) played over a period of at least six months, involving at least 10 teams and with at least 90 matches played;
  2. A nationwide women’s competitions (championship, league or cup) played over a period of at least six months, involving at least 10 teams and with at least 90 matches played;
  3. An active men’s ‘A’ national team having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year;
  4. An active women’s ‘A’ national team having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year;
  5. A nationwide or regional boys’ competitions (championships, leagues or cups) in at least two age categories (for example U-15 and U-17) played over a period of six months, involving at least ten youth teams in each of the age categories, with at least 90 matches played in each age category;
  6. A nationwide or regional boys’ competitions (championships, leagues or cups) in at least two age categories (for example U-15 and U-17) played over a period of six months, involving at least ten youth teams in each of the age categories, with at least 90 matches played in each age category;
  7. An active boys’ national teams in at least two age categories having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year in each of the age categories;
  8. An active girls’ national teams in at least two age categories having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year in each of the age categories;
  9. A functioning and regularly updated IT player registration and competition management system (which is provided free of charge by FIFA if needed);
  10. An established programme for the promotion and development of refereeing—inclusive of women referees—with an appointed full-time head of refereeing with the relevant refereeing expertise, at least ten refereeing workshops/seminars organised by the member association for its referees in the different categories in one year.
Photo: Central FC playmaker Keron “Ball Pest” Cummings (foreground) tries to hold off W Connection midfielder Kevon Goddard during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 18 August 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Midway through 2019, the TTFA has met none of this perimeters, although it should have satisfied numbers (3) and (7) by the end of August.

Trinidad and Tobago does not come close to satisfying FIFA’s criteria for an adult or youth domestic competition in either sex, which would mean a minimum of US$200,000 being unclaimed by the John-Williams-led FA.

(Full TTFA release)

TTFA prioritise 8 other competitions over Concacaf Men’s U23 Olympic Qualifiers For 2019.

The TTFA has regrettably withdrawn its participation from this year’s Concacaf Men’s U23 Olympic Qualifiers and has decided to focus its resources on other competitions for the rest of 2019.

The financial difficulties of the FA have been no secret to the public with a debt of over 5 million USD and most recently, the freezing of the bank accounts. Despite these turmoil times, the TTFA with the support of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has managed to successfully field teams in all of the competitions thus far for the 2019 Competitions calendar.

With the limited funding available, and eleven national teams to service, the TTFA has taken the decision that in moving forward we must not increase the debt of the FA and thus we must prioritise which tournaments are a must to participate in.

Photo: Soca Warriors head coach Dennis Lawrence (far right) poses with TTFA president David John-Williams (second from right), team manager Richard Piper (second from left) and Camara David (far left) in 2018.
(Copyright Alan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

According to FIFA Statues, Member Associations are mandated to participate in a maximum of two competitions for a period of four consecutive years to keep its FIFA membership status. Over the last 15 years, the TTFA has been ‘biting off more than it can possibly chew’ by competing in every single competition with little regard for its financial obligations and thus running up this mammoth of a debt.

The Concacaf Men’s U-23 Olympic Qualifiers has proven to be the most difficult competition to qualify for, as only a maximum of two countries from the region will qualify for 2020 Tokyo. Additionally, given the lack of resources and preparation of the team, the TTFA felt that it would be unfair to the Republic to send an unprepared team to a participate in the tournament.

The TTFA remains committed to the development of our football and thus has pledged its funds to the following competitions for the rest of the year:

• CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019

• CONCACAF Boys Under 15 Championships

• CFU 2019 Under 14 Girls Challenge Series

• CFU 2019 Under 14 Boys Challenge Series

• CONCACAF Under 17 Women’s Championships

• CONCACAF Under 20 Women’s Championships

• CONCACAF Nations League

• CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers.

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

In light of this position, the TTFA sees the light at the end of the tunnel as we expect to open the highly anticipated ‘Home of Football Project’ later this year with a grand 72-room hotel and a Sports and Entertainment Centre.

It must be noted that FIFA mandates all of its members to use its FIFA Forward monies to construct these facilities first, before it can be used for other activities.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read coach Angus Eve’s response to the TTFA decision to scrap the National Under-23 Team.

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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34 comments

  1. Would be nice if Coach Angus could make this happen

  2. If someone else funds the trip and preparation, would the TTFA allow them to go?

  3. Heard thru the grapevine that Stern was first approached for the Job , he turned it down . Then the Job was offered to Angus Eve who is a straight up not gonna work for free guy. The thing is that DJW is not a big fan of Angus to put it mildly, then it was revealed that offering Angus the Job was an olive branch to Club Sando who would use his influence to get the much needed votes for the election later this year. With that plan falling through they decided to use all manner of excuses on why the teams will not go to the tournament. I know for sure that their are a number of coaches willing to work for FREE once funding for the trip is secured. Well as I said thru the grapevine….

  4. Keith Look Loy that’s how these people on Boards are.. they go along with wayward Administrators for the sole purpose of getting perks and trips…same as the NAAA

  5. And Quan Chan and Davis visiting Japan right now. That’s your Emergency Committee right there. Minus Bandele Kamau from East. I guess he will go Gold Cup.

  6. Meantime, we boy and former DJW critic jetted out with the Big Boss and Camara David on Saturday to the Women’s World Cup. This is how we do it.

  7. Football might just have a home with no one living in it.
    But the porch light on though smh!!

  8. I always believe that there must be a way for all teams to be giving an opportunity to playbeg,borrow or do something,I understand financial concerns but business men should have business partners

  9. Lasana can you post the FIFA link in regards to how the funds are supposed to be split?

  10. the federation should be disbanded followed by a forensic audit

  11. TTFA Board did not make the decision to abandon the U23s nor to select certain competitions for participation.

    With regard to the GS, he has come in to perform the role of hatchet man for the Big Boss. His ambition is his driving force; he has no ethical tether; and merely wants to get ahead. “Hail fellows, well met”.

    Football will not survive another four years of this deadly duo.

  12. The TTFA must release all financial records and audits for examination and transparency before any money is released.

  13. Wonder if any of the long suffering athletes, coaches, staff, legal firms and other litigants are being paid their hard won judgements?

  14. I’d love to know if the ‘T-League’ has considered any of the guidelines that FIFA stipulates for a proper domestic league.