Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) presidential candidate William Wallace has issued an ‘unreserved apology’ to the Junior Sammy Group of Companies, after the contractors accused Wallace’s ‘United TTFA’ slate of a ‘grave misrepresentation’ during their breakfast launch at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain on Saturday.
During Wallace’s presentation, the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president flashed a letter that appeared to be from the Junior Sammy Group of Companies, which pledged support to his campaign for the TTFA elections on 24 November.
Junior Sammy, the executive chairman of his self-titled company, said that his Group of Companies extended no such support to Wallace.
“The Company wishes to advise that no such letter has been issued by the Office of the Chairman of our Group of Companies or authorised to be issued by any of our companies with the Group for that matter,” stated Sammy, in a press statement. “We therefore call on the publishers of the presentation to immediately remove this false document from its releases and to issue a [suitably] worded retraction regarding such grave misrepresentation.”
Wallace said his use of a ‘false document’ at the United TTFA’s weekend meeting, which was live streamed on YouTube, was inadvertent and the result of an ‘exuberant’ well-wisher who assists the slate on such matters.
“It was not a letter crafted by us at the United TTFA but I would like to publicly retract the use of the document,” Wallace told Wired868. “We unreservedly apologise to the [Junior Sammy Group of Companies] and the football fraternity. It wasn’t a letter that promised money or a sponsorship letter, it was just a letter to say they support the slate in the election. But it has come to our attention that the document was not authorised by the company, so I would like to retract it.”
His retraction came hours after TTFA president David John-Williams held a press conference in Couva to denounce the letter as ‘fraud’ and requested a police investigation. John-Williams, who refused to confirm or deny whether he will try to retain his post later this month, said he was ‘utterly dismayed’ by the incident involving the Junior Sammy Group and was concerned about ‘the reputation of a commercial partner’ of the local football body.
“I call on [the TTPS] to investigate this matter seriously because it involves a forged document being used and a forged signature being appended to this document,” said John-Williams. “[…] This is not about an election statement. This is about protecting the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and its corporate partners…”
John-Williams claimed that the Junior Sammy Group ‘invested’ over TT$1 million in equipment for the controversial Home of Football project while Sammy, a construction magnate, said his company enjoyed ‘a healthy and amicable relationship’ with the TTFA.
So why did Wallace think he had the support of the Junior Sammy Group?
“Just as we had people outside of Trinidad and Tobago working on our behalf, there were people here working too—and we received three letters of comfort from [local businessmen] on the morning of the presentation,” said Wallace. “There was no reason to believe there was anything wrong with any of them. They were on letterheads and one of the businessmen who pledged support was actually sitting in the room, which was Joe Pires. So it was surprising to me when I heard otherwise [about the Junior Sammy Group].
“Our own examinations revealed—I don’t want to say exuberance—but a member of the team sent out the letter to a person working on our behalf. From what I gather, there was discussion with the person named in the letter [from the Junior Sammy Group] but I’m not sure what led to that letter being sent out to us […] without proper authorisation.”
Wallace declined to name the figure involved but said that person had promised to take ownership of the embarrassing mishap and issue an apology.
“We expect an apology from the person to us and to the Junior Sammy Group of Companies,” he said. “I don’t want to name and embarrass anyone who tried to help but probably made a mistake in their exuberance. We are humble enough to absorb that [criticism] for our supporters.
“What we will have to do and the lesson learned from this is we will have a dedicated group of people who will have to vet anything that comes in for us. In the future, we want to adhere to the [former US president Ronald] Reagan principle which is ‘trust but verify’.”
So can Wallace confirm whether the other letters of support displayed on Saturday were authentic?
“The other two letters we got locally, there is no issue with those letters,” said Wallace, “and the letters from all our international partners, we have no issues with those. During the course of the afternoon, this [furore] made us go back to our principals and share what happened here. And they told us there is nothing wrong with their side of the arrangement.
“[…] There was no intention to mislead anybody. It was just a very unfortunate situation.”
Wired868 understands that the Junior Sammy Group has said it is willing to drop the matter once the company receive a suitable apology.
(Statement from Junior Sammy, executive chairman of the Junior Sammy Group of Companies)
It has been brought to our attention that an undated letter bearing our Group’s logo was presented at a meeting held on Saturday 2 November, 2019 by the ‘United TTFA’ slate purporting that our Group of Companies supports Mr William Wallace and the United TTFA slate in the upcoming TTFA elections to be held on 24 November 2019. We have also been advised that the letter is published within the presentation that is available on the various social media platforms.
The Company wishes to advise that no such letter has been issued by the Office of the Chairman of our Group of Companies or authorised to be issued by any of our companies with the Group for that matter. We therefore call on the publishers of the presentation to immediately remove this false document from its releases and to issue a [suitably] worded retraction regarding such grave misrepresentation.
Our Group of Companies has always supported the various administrations of the TTFA in their efforts to develop and promote the talents of our youth on the national and international arenas as part of our corporate social responsibility thrust and has enjoyed a healthy and amicable relationship with it.
We regret this unfortunate occurrence.