Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace assured administrative and coaching staff members today that they will be paid outstanding monies soon, once the local football is in ‘receipt of the monies from Fifa’.
Wallace’s letter was his first official communique to staff since Fifa announced that he had been removed as TTFA president on 17 March due, according to a release from the Fifa Bureau of the Council, to ‘extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt’.
The Fifa decision, made by a committee headed by president Gianni Infantino, came just four months into Wallace’s term as local football president. Wallace was elected president at the TTFA elections on 24 November 2019, just days after Infantino publicly described his controversial predecessor, David John-Williams, as his ‘teammate’.
Wallace is appealing Fifa’s decision to implement a normalisation committee in the twin island republic to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). In the meantime, he sought to assure office and technical staff members that he had not forgotten them.
“Dear colleagues in football,” stated Wallace. “As you have no doubt heard, Fifa is now preparing to release funding to the TTFA that it has thus far refused to release prior to the purported appointment of the normalisation committee.
“For your peace of mind in these difficult times, I am writing to confirm that as soon as I am notified by the general secretary and/or First Citizens Bank of the receipt of the monies from Fifa, I will take the necessary steps to ensure you are paid as owed.”
Whether TTFA coaches and officials get any ‘peace of mind’ from Wallace’s stance is another issue. Two weeks ago, Fifa general secretary Fatma Samoura repeated their view that Wallace and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Sharon Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip no longer form the TTFA’s executive committee.
“The only legitimate leadership of the TTFA, recognised by Fifa and Concacaf, is the one led by [normalisation committee chairman] Robert Hadad,” stated Samoura. “Having said this, any type of discussion regarding […] any football-related topic should be handled with Mr Robert Hadad.”
Hadad has scheduled a Zoom meeting with technical director Dion La Foucade and all national coaches on Wednesday night, with unpaid salaries expected to be a topic for discussion.
The TTFA technical committee, headed by Super League president Keith Look Loy, hired roughly 37 technical staff members since Wallace was elected on 24 November 2019.
Terry Fenwick (Men’s Senior Team), Derek King (Men’s Under-20 Team), Angus Eve (Men’s Under-17 Team), Keith Jeffrey (Men’s Under-15 Team), Richard Hood (Women’s Under-20 and Under-17 Teams) and Jason Spence (Women’s Under-15 Team) headed the various technical staffs.
All have contracts or letters of appointment but none have been paid since their respective selections, which occurred between December 2019 and January 2020. Office staff at the local football body have not been paid since February.
At present, the TTFA is due US$500,000 (TT$3.4 million) from Fifa ‘in the coming days’ and a further US$2 million (TT$13.5 million) shortly thereafter, which represents their total annual entitlement. But the governing body is reluctant to deposit money into an account still managed by Wallace.
Article 8 of the Fifa Forward regulations states that each member association must own a ‘separate bank account in its own name with a bank in the country in which it has its registered headquarters’ to receive funding.
Hadad and Wallace are wrestling for control of the TTFA’s account at First Citizens Bank at present.
Normal bank regulations stipulate that an account signatory can only be changed if the request to do so include minutes from the organisation’s last board meeting, signed by its secretary, authorising the switch. Hadad could not possibly have this documentation and the bar he must clear to open a separate account in the TTFA’s name is even higher.
Legal representatives for First Citizens Bank have asked for until 18 May to declare whether Wallace will retain control of the TTFA’s account or be replaced by Hadad.
TTFA employees are unlikely to get any relief before then.
Editor’s Note: Click HERE for update as Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad threatens legal action against TTFA president William Wallace over his use of the TTFA letterhead.