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Downer: John-Williams is unconstitutionally subverting the TTFA’s Board of Directors

“Colleagues, the Emergency Committee is NOT a standing Committee in the Constitution. It is only enacted when a real emergency situation arises which must be immediately decided upon.

“Colleagues, what has happened here is, at least, a grave mistake, or at worst an attempt to unconstitutionally subvert the relevance and powers of the [Board of Directors]. This must not be tolerated or allowed to reoccur…”

The following is a letter to Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and copied to all football members by Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association vice-president Osmond Downer, one of the framers of the TTFA’s constitution, which joins a chorus of stakeholders expressing serious concerns with John-Williams’ use of an Emergency Committee:

Photo: Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe (right) and TTFA president David John-Williams inspect the Home of Football project in Couva on 20 August 2018.
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

Dear members of the TTFA’s Board of Directors,

Certain recent developments in the administration of the TTFA in relation to the above-captioned subject are, indeed, very troubling.  Please see attachments (a), (b), and (c),  (a) is the report of the meeting of TTFA’s Emergency Committee meeting held on May 13; (b) is a copy of Art 36 of the Constitution – ‘powers of the Board of Directors (BOD)’; and (c) is a copy of  Art 42 of the Constitution – ‘Emergency Committee’. First, I will like to, particularly, draw to your attention to paragraphs (a), (j), (l), and (n) of Article 36.

Now, let us examine, first of all, Art 42 of the Constitution of the TTFA. An Article creating an Emergency Committee. Such an article appears in the Constitution of all organized Football Associations, and it is necessary in order to deal with exactly what the title of the Article says, that is, EMERGENCY matters requiring IMMEDIATE SETTLEMENT.

Refer to the attachment with the definition of the term ‘emergency’. These definitions have been taken from leading dictionaries in the world in the English Language. Note the words that are common to all of them: ‘unexpected’, ‘immediate’, ‘unforeseen’, ‘suddenly’, ‘urgent’.

This means that the Emergency Committee will deal with any matter that suddenly arises that was unforeseen or unexpected and is urgent and requires immediate decision for the proper functioning of the Association. Note that Art 42 (1) states ‘all matters requiring IMMEDIATE settlement…’

Colleagues, before proceeding further, let us clear up an apparent misconception about the convening of Board meetings. See attachment, an extract from Art 35(1). This states: ‘The President shall convene the meetings of the Board of Directors AT LEAST once every two months.’

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (left) shares the stage with board members Julia Baptiste (centre) and Keith Look Loy at the presentation of FIFA refereeing badges to local officials on 23 January 2019.
(Copyright TTFA Media)

This means, of course, that the President can call as many meetings of the BOD as circumstances demand, so long as two months time does not elapse between two meetings. The President does not have to wait for two months to call a successive meeting, he has only to give ‘at least three working days notice before the meeting’. (Art 35.2).

 

Now, let us examine the contents of the President’s Report on the meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) held on Thursday 13 June 2019. This date is just a little over one month after the meeting of the BOD of 8 May 2019.

Did the BOD, at its May meeting, delegate the EC, in keeping with Art 36(n), to discuss and make decisions on the matters decided at the June 13 meeting?

This report was forwarded to me by the representative of the TTFRA on the BOD. I must state that, at first glance, I thought that this was a report on a regular meeting of the whole BOD, with the many items discussed and important decisions made. Items and decisions that should constitutionally be the business of the BOD.

The report lists three Vice-Presidents as being present. Art 42 makes provision for only one VP. And also the GS is not a member of the EC.

Photo: TTFA general secretary Camara David (left) chats with controversial TTGF president Andy Gomez-Burke during a tour of the Home of Football in 2018.
(Copyright Alan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

(1) The decision on the Capelli agreement:

It was known long before the EC meeting that the Joma agreement had come to an end in December 2018. So, of course, this matter could not have been ‘sudden’, or ‘unforeseen’ or ‘unexpected’ and could certainly have been dealt with at the meeting of the BOD of 8 May 2019.

(2) Appointment of Women U17 and U20 Head Coach:

Again this does not fulfil the criteria of an emergency and certainly usurps the powers of the BOD as stated in Art 36(j): ‘shall appoint the coaches for the representative teams and other technical staff’. This involves the expenditure of Association funds and must be done at a proper Board meeting with a full discussion on qualifications, terms of conditions, etc.

(3) Withdrawal of Men’s U23 Olympic Team:

This is a much too important and far-reaching decision to be made by an Emergency Committee and should be made only by a full Board Meeting.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Jabari Mitchell plays the ball around a Curacao player during the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
Mitchell would have been a part of the National U-23 Team for the 2020 Olympic qualifying series.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

(4) TTFA Youth Invitational Tournament.

This is too much of an important and expansive project, involving huge expenditures, to be decided upon by an ‘Emergency Committee’ and could certainly have waited for the deliberations of a full Board Meeting (again only three days notice required). Again not an ‘emergency’.

(5) Appointment of U-14 Elite Development Boys Coach.

Again not an ‘emergency’, and again usurps the Powers of the BOD as in Art 36(j).

(6) Tier 3 decision for proposed T-League.

Again not an ‘Emergency’ and could have been dealt with at the ‘Lindsay’ Commission or by the BOD. I note the sentence ‘adjourned discussions on teams… for another meeting’.

The question here is: another meeting of what body? another contrived Emergency Committee meeting? A similar sentence appears at the end of item (2) ‘…to be ratified at a later meeting’:

Photo: W Connection forward Marcus “Lobo” Joseph (centre) tries to elude Central FC defender Rhondel Gibson (left) during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 18 August 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

(7) Grants to Regional Associations.

This certainly cannot be described as an ‘Emergency’ situation, and, again will involve a large expenditure of Association funds, and is certainly not the business of an Emergency Committee but of the duly constituted BOD, which may even have to be agreed to by a General Meeting

(8) Agreement with Defence Force Regiment.

Again this matter could certainly have waited for a full meeting of the BOD. Again here we see a statement: ‘to be ratified at a later meeting’. A later meeting of the Emergency Committee?

Colleagues, the Emergency Committee is NOT a standing Committee in the Constitution. It is only enacted when a real emergency situation arises which must be immediately decided upon.

Colleagues, what has happened here is, at least, a grave mistake, or at worst an attempt to unconstitutionally subvert the relevance and powers of the BOD. This must not be tolerated or allowed to reoccur.

I am sending a copy of this email to all member delegates to the AGM of the Association.

As usual, for the good of the game.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (centre) is flanked by Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat (left) and then SPORTT chairman Dinanath Ramnarine during a press conference on 29 September 2017.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: The current TTFA Emergency Committee comprises of: David John-Williams (president), Ewing Davis (vice-president), Selby Browne (VFFOTT), Richard Quan Chan (SFA), Anthony Moore (TFA) and Bandele Kamau (EFA).

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