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Dear editor: Why Fifa’s normalisation committee won’t help T&T’s football

“The real problem with the TTFA isn’t generally about the president of the TTFA. The problem is and has been the individuals representing the member associations.

“[…] History speaks for itself about what our presidents have done because our democratic membership allowed it to happen…”

The following letter to the editor on Fifa’s decision to implement a normalisation committee in Trinidad and Tobago was submitted by FC Santa Rosa official, Jason Laban:

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino (right) and then TTFA president David John-Williams at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

It is said that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. I generally try to follow that when it comes to matters of politics—however I feel like this is one of those times that something needs to be said.

The footballing and general public have been exposed to numerous articles as well as television coverage of this whole matter of the TTFA vs Fifa and the Fifa’s normalisation committee. What is being said is always about the fight or the stance taken by TTFA against Fifa and/or how it will affect our football in Trinidad and Tobago.

Let me start by saying this, either direction this matter goes Trinidad & Tobago football will suffer. The question is: do we suffer to become better; or do we suffer and continue to suffer?

The reality of the TTFA has always been about politics and self-interest rather than football. I am a stakeholder and I’ve been fortunate enough to be allowed entry at TTFA meetings for some time now. Due to that access, I’d like to share this perspective with the general public, as I have with my friends.

The real problem with the TTFA isn’t generally about the president of the TTFA. The problem is and has been the individuals representing the member associations.

I say that for a couple reasons: 1. The president usually comes from a member association and 2. The members have the ability to a stop a president if wrongdoing is taking place.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (far right) oversees work at the controversial Home of Football.
(Copyright CA-Images/Wired868)

History speaks for itself about what our presidents have done because our democratic membership allowed it to happen.

And this is why Fifa and its normalisation committee cannot help our football. The facts are that Fifa stood by and allowed the TTFA’s debts to balloon, money to disappear, projects to be run without proper accountability and the deterioration of our national football teams—without stopping the guilty administrations, much less intervening in any way.

Apart from Fifa’s failure to show it cared about our football over the years, a normalisation committee does not have the power to change the culture of the TTFA or its membership. And until that is done, Trinidad and Tobago’s football will keep going around and around in the same cycle as before.

Members of the TTFA have shown how highly they regard self-interest, low accountability, corrupt practices, egotism and nepotism. And for those reasons, they have prioritised support of presidents who served their interests over what should be the most important thing of all: FOOTBALL.

I recently read an article where the acting TT Pro League chairman, speaking on the current TTFA administration’s court matter against FIFA, said: “This appears to be a moral stance for Wallace but certainly not for the country.”

This can only be expected from someone representing the Pro League—a league that consistently struggles financially, has no academies to develop young talent and is owned by private individuals who receive taxpayers money to pay their players!

Photo: Former Sport Minister and Pro League interim chairman Brent Sancho.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Imagine if privately owned companies like Carib or KFC received funding from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to pay its workers. How is that for morals?

(We can dig deeper into how much our talented youth players are paid versus the executives of these privately-owned clubs, but we’ll leave that one alone.)

There are TT Super League members who claim they are excluded from decisions, yet don’t attend meetings and don’t reply to emails

We have regional associations that are practically non-existent, with limited to no teams playing football and whose representatives come to TTFA meetings and say they are only there to vote and don’t want their time wasted with discussion because they ‘didn’t come for all of that’. We have members whose associations only exist on paper, yet are allowed to travel with TTFA contingents.

I give those examples to show what some of the TTFA membership looks like. Some of them don’t even know what a moral, principled stance towards country and football looks like.

If Fifa wins in courts or current TTFA administration submits, nothing changes with our football or the culture that controls our football. If you’re happy with the state of our football, then this would be your preference.

Photo: TTFA president William Wallace.
(Courtesy TTFA Media/Allan V Crane)

If the TTFA wins its legal battle and Fifa decides to ban us from international football, sad as that may be, it won’t last forever. And, during the period of our international ban, maybe we can focus our energies on development plans and improving our football for our eventual return to the international game.

The TTFA’s fight with Fifa is a moral stance for country. Do we suffer to become better, or do we suffer and continue to suffer?

I would prefer we suffer to become better. But then again, I’m in the TTFA for football and not politics, or self-interest, or egotism.

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4 comments

  1. Dear Editor,

    TTFA Constitution (Statutes) should have a provision for the members to call a General Meeting with a prescribed Agenda where the will of the membership could be ascertained and documented.

    The provision usually requires a third (or some such portion) of the membership to petition in writing to the executive (through the General Secretary).

    In this circumstance, FIFA has removed the elected executive but not the membership because it can’t without suspending TTFA.

    If the membership of the TTFA demands to hear from Mr. Haddad and his committee as the executive (according to FIFA) in the context of a General Meeting, their demand will be heard and their wishes documented.

    Maybe FIFA is looking for an excuse to suspend the TTFA and the membersihip shouldn’t get caught up in that, but they still need to make the views known through the agreed channels provided by the constitution.

    Maybe some of the persons that FIFA has removed as elected executive members could qualify as delegates to an AGM or Extra-Ordinary General Meeting?

    Maybe attorneys could craft some well worded motions to be notified on the Agenda for the General meeting. Use FIFA rules to find out if they are genuine about helping Trinidad and Tobago football.

    Such an approach could also gain support from members of regional Football Associations even though the leaders of those Associations have turned a blind eye till now.

    In this region, the Football loving people of Trinidad and Tobago should have more friends than FIFA for sure 🙂

    Signed
    True Democracy

    • Earl Best

      “In this region, the Football loving people of Trinidad and Tobago should have more friends than FIFA for sure .”

      I too am certain they probably do. But on the evidence we have so far…

      Still, what you propose sounds like a wise move. Think we could get Andre Baptiste to organise it for us? Shucks! DJW’s no longer holding the reins; what are the chances of the i95.5fm host getting up on a high horse?

      • Better to propose an inclusive agenda that can bring bring the membership of TTFA together rather than the divisive or partisan issues that have been so debilitating to the organisation. Leave the personalities out of it and let the delegates speak honestly on behalf of the member organisations of the TTFA. Pay the employees.

  2. Hmmm … Food for thought. Thank you, Mr Laban