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Shaka: Troubling TTFA revelations don’t justify Fifa intervention—they challenge us to fix ourselves

Well, this really has been a strange couple of weeks. I’ve found myself having in-depth conversations with some of my best and dearest friends regarding our football and the position we currently find ourselves in.

We really are up a murky creek; and Fifa has snatched our paddles and are now trying to comfort us by insisting that this is their creek anyway.

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino.
(via Fifa)

It’s been a whirlwind few months. Back in November, I recorded an endorsement for the head of the United TTFA slate, William Wallace. Nothing necessarily new. In the last decade I’ve offered public and recorded statements of support for at least four of our head coaches, and one of our previous ministers of sport.

I’ve also spoken at the political launch event of yet another budding politician who went on to become minister of sport. I’ve phoned all three of the last TTFA presidents within days of their electoral wins to wish them good luck.

While the timing and use of video are firsts for me, I didn’t hesitate in endorsing Wallace. In all of my dealings with him as president of the SSFL, I found him honest and professional.

The revelations of the last few weeks have been disappointing and troubling though.

Within four months of Wallace’s tenure, even before the revelations of the last few weeks, Fifa felt it necessary to rescind their recognition of his title and impose a normalisation committee. I’ve already let my feelings be known about that.

Those feelings haven’t changed—so if you’re here hoping or expecting an apology for that, you’ll be disappointed.

Photo: Naparima College attacker Mark Ramdeen (centre) poses with his 2018 SSFL MVP trophy between SSFL president William Wallace (right) and ambassador Shaka Hislop.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Let me be clear, I don’t necessarily have an issue with the makeup of the normalisation committee. The head of the normalisation committee has been called to serve our game in a most unusual and unexpected circumstance. I applaud anyone who is willing to step up and do so, as long as their motivations are honest and efforts earnest—even if I continue to challenge the reasons for their appointment.

I have spoken to Mr Robert Hadad since his appointment and have no reason to question him. None. My biggest grievance through all of this continues to be with the reasons given for the imposing of a normalisation committee at this point.

Despite the after-the-fact justifications of the normalisation committee put forward in many of the comment sections, the reasons offered by FIFA themselves—via two sets of highly competent local law firms—fall desperately short of acceptable.

Keeping in mind that all of our football’s challenges are inherited, thanks to a former Fifa VP, those reasons would have justified the same at any point in the last ten years.

If Fifa were happy to allow previous administrations full terms in trying to arrest those issues, despite spiralling debt and a plummeting ranking, it’s a very tough sell to justify not letting this one get out of their blocks. An easier sell for FIFA to countries with a colonial past, who have been conditioned not to question.

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino (centre) and TTFA president David John-Williams (left) turn the sod at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva while then Sport Minister Darryl Smith pretends to help on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

If there is a silver lining to what I’ve witnessed over recent weeks, it’s that we are equipped with the checks and balances our football needs, they just have to be allowed to function properly and fully.

If you have a rogue president, there is an executive committee, a board, and a general membership who should act as guardians of the governance as guided by the constitution.

The investigative pieces as produced right here in Wired868, by SportsMax, the Express, the Guardian and the Newsday have shown that we have a media who are more than capable of ensuring transparency and exposing wrongdoing. And we have a fan base to hold them all to account.

For Fifa to leapfrog them all makes a mockery of those pillars, stripping them of their rights and responsibilities, and undermines our own sovereignty. The damage done will outlast the normalisation committee’s term by decades.

I don’t believe Wallace is corrupt or a thief, or necessarily rogue. Football is a venomous arena. It takes a steeled character to navigate and an even sharper tongue to dominate.

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

Wallace’s trusting nature has probably been his undoing. The recent revelations have exposed faults in our administrative protocols as well. Why does it only take one signature to execute deals such as the one with Avec, for the head coach, the ‘marketing agent’, and even the general secretary?

A remnant of that former Fifa VP’s era. Whatever comes of all of this, that needs to be addressed.

The gilt-edged promise of football administration is tempting. It has seen seemingly good people actively deal in rumour, misinformation and back-stabbing. It’ll take honest, intelligent, people of integrity for us to deliver on the promise of our local talent and fans’ hopes.

But we do have those people in our own midsts. We have to identify and support them.

I can sometimes be a cynic, but my glass remains half full.

About Shaka Hislop

Shaka Hislop
Shaka Hislop is a football analyst with ESPN and a 2006 World Cup player with Trinidad and Tobago. He played professionally in England with Reading, Newcastle, West Ham and Portsmouth and has an Executive MBA in Business Administration and a Mechanical Engineering degree from Howard University. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame athlete in Trinidad and Tobago and Howard while he was the inaugural winner of the England PFA's Special Merit Award for his services to football.

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3 comments

  1. Earl Best

    “It’ll take honest, intelligent people of integrity for us to deliver on the promise of our local talent and fans’ hopes.”
    Isn’t that something that comes up as a serious issue in the wake of all that we have learned since last November? Don’t we have to make sure that we add a few more adjectives as essentials, given the piranha awaiting our reps in the international sea?

  2. Once again, well said, Shaka! Balanced and clear. Well articulated.

    The Headline says it well. FIFA’s strong-arming a sovereign nation’s officers remains a neo-colonialist takeover, and unjustified.

    • Agreed. We just have to pull together, not against each other. Constructive criticism is okay, as we cannot always agree, but undermining action is unacceptable. And equally so, personal agendas.