On 29 April 2020, Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad introduced himself to Trinidad and Tobago’s national football team coaches and promised to meet them shortly to discuss their existing contracts and owed remuneration.
Hadad, the co-CEO of family owned business HadCo Limited, assured coaches that he was introducing a professional approach to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and was only ever a phone call or text message away.
Four months later, Hadad is yet to fulfil his promise; and Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-17 Team head coach and National Under-20 assistant coach Angus Eve said football staff feel totally neglected and disregarded.
“He said at [the April meeting] he would meet with coaches individually about the validity of their contracts, monies to be paid out and the way forward,” Eve told Wired868. “Since then we haven’t heard anything from Mr Hadad. I called his assistant, Amiel [Mohammed], between three weeks to a month ago to ascertain what is the status of that meeting that Mr Hadad said he would have with us and if we are going to have those meetings at all.
“Amiel said he would check and there has been no communication back to me since.”
Eve said requests for information from technical director Dion La Foucade and director of football Richard Piper also yielded nothing, with both men claiming to be in the dark.
At present, the normalisation committee does not have control over the TTFA’s bank account due to a legal conflict with besieged football president William Wallace. However, Hadad’s normalisation committee followed a precedent set by previous local football bosses in directing Concacaf to wire salaries straight to employees’s accounts.
Piper and La Foucade were both paid this way along with office staff. Inexplicably, unlike previous occasions when this has been done, Hadad has not ensured that coaches are paid—and he has offered no explanation about the snub.
“We are in a pandemic and no industry has suffered the way entertainers and footballers have struggled,” said Eve. “We are owed salaries and as far as I know the Fifa money is available—even if it isn’t here in Trinidad. Fifa even gave [the TTFA] an extra grant of US$500,000.
“I am very happy that the office staff got paid but we are employees of the TTFA also. So what about us?”
Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 and Under-17 Team head coach Richard Hood agreed.
Last December, Hood became the first coach to begin training under the Wallace-led administration. He inherited a team that failed to get to the final four of the Caribbean Under-17 competition in 2018 and, in February, turned them into Concacaf Under-20 quarterfinalists—just 90 minutes away from a World Cup berth.
Hood and his staff have not received a cent for their efforts.
“We have not heard anything from the normalisation committee following the Zoom meeting we had so very long ago, when the chairman assured us that individual meetings would be arranged with individual staff,” said Hood. “What has become of that? We have worked extremely hard and I dare say, we have done well. But really that shouldn’t even be a consideration.
“The fact is that we have worked and we deserve to be rewarded for such work.”
Hadad, as always, did not respond to requests for comment from Wired868.
Trinidad and Tobago football, Eve said, deserves better than this. Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time most capped senior player in full international matches, Eve started all three games in his country’s debut in a Fifa tournament, the Portugal 1991 Fifa World Youth Championship, and wore ‘red, black and white’ in three senior World Cup qualifying series—including the successful 2006 campaign.
Since then, Eve has become a serial winner at Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) level as Naparima College head coach and is no slouch in the Pro League, where he leads Club Sando.
But, as a national coach, he feels let down.
“First, I want to say thank you to [technical committee chairman] Keith look Loy and William Wallace for giving me the opportunity to be a national coach again—because my record speaks for itself locally, yet I hadn’t been a national coach for nine years,” said Eve. “But I feel on both sides of the fence, I haven’t been communicated to. I respect Wallace a lot; but they went to court and they didn’t come and talk to the coaches, the zones, the football parents, etc, before they did so.
“The action they took affects all of us; and seeing that they brought us in as coaches, they should have at least communicated with us.
“And it is the same for ‘Rob’ [Hadad] who hasn’t had any communication with us at all—we only found out that other employees were being paid through the media. There is no communication from both sides of the fence to the stakeholders of football.”
Hood, the Police FC head coach/technical director, was especially miffed at the initial reason Hadad gave for their non-payment.
Hadad, on 29 April, told coaches that he needed time to review their contracts. Incidentally, La Foucade and Piper received contracts after Hood, yet were both paid.
“I think that it’s a bit ridiculous that after six months or so, the current administration cannot sort out the situation regarding coaches’ salaries, as it pertains to their contracts and what is owed,” said Hood. “Particularly in the case of [my] staff that obviously worked from December to the culmination of the Women’s Under-20 tournament. That cannot be disputed.
“If it is a case of verifying our terms of employment as has been reported, then I would think that a simple meeting could be arranged where we can supply a copy of our contracts. So of course I’m frustrated by the lack of communication as well.”
The normalisation committee’s mandate, by Fifa, is:
- to run the TTFA’s daily affairs;
- to establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA;
- to review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress;
- to organise and to conduct elections of a new TTFA Executive Committee for a four-year mandate.
From all accounts, Hadad has failed miserably in each aspect.
Five months after his appointment, the normalisation committee—which also comprises of vice-chair Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano—is yet to meet the TTFA’s general membership while creditors are as frustrated as the football coaches over Hadad’s perceived disregard to their grievances.
Eve didn’t single out the businessman, though. He said the local game has receive sub-standard administration for much longer than the past six months.
“We need better governance and I would love somebody in football who has football at heart—regardless of what is going on with you personally, you must put the game first,” said Eve, who noted that gifted players like Kevin Molino and budding stars like Molik Jesse Khan are the ones who will suffer most. “I am thinking very seriously about running for this kind of [administrative] post because I don’t seem to be making the contribution that our local game needs as a coach.
“We in football need to talk to all stakeholders when we are making decisions because we are representing everybody. It cannot be that I am on top so I don’t have to tell you anything and I can just go about my business and do my thing. That is egotism.
“I hope we are mature enough as a society to understand what I am saying. I am not on either side of the fence. I am only pointing out how both sides can do better, so we can go forward.”
Look Loy disputed Eve’s claim that the TTFA abandoned its coaches, though—even though they are unable to pay them, since Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura said they only recognise Hadad as head of the local game.
“For myself i created a whats app group with staff from all the different teams, not just coaches, and I have always updated them,” said Look Loy. “So even if it is an informal method of communication, I do communicate with the coaches and just today I spoke to two coaches.
“Of course it is in an unofficial capacity because it has never been explained what is the role of the technical committee under the normalisation committee, which is the only body that Fifa says it recognises.
“[…] I cannot talk for Wallace and I am not the president but I can safely say that I am in touch with coaches and other staff. So to say that nobody has spoken to them—I don’t know how else to respond that.”
Although Fifa announced the removal of the TTFA president and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Philip, the football body’s committees remain in place. However, Hadad has not communicated with Look Loy since he took up the reins on 27 March.
During that period, Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick held multiple training sessions. Otherwise, the local game appears to remain dormant and rudderless—Covid-19 restrictions notwithstanding.
Wired868 was unable to reach Wallace for comment.