“[…] In all of this malfeasance, Fifa was either guilty of gross ignorance of its own regulations and, therefore, gross mismanagement; or it was guilty of gross negligence and complicity in the actions of David John-Williams.
“In any event, United TTFA concluded from the outset that Fifa imposed its normalisation committee to prevent the forensic investigation that had been ordered by the TTFA Board, and to cover up all of John-Williams’ financial shenanigans…”
In the following release, United TTFA members William Wallace (TTFA president), Clynt Taylor (TTFA 1st vice-president), Susan Joseph-Warrick (TTFA 2nd vice-president), Joseph Sam Phillip (TTFA 3rd vice-president), Anthony Harford (Northern FA president) and Keith Look Loy (TT Super League president) respond to Mark Bassant’s investigative feature on the stewardship of former football president David John-Williams and the alleged complicity of Fifa and its normalisation committee:
The unexpected, grave and shocking revelations of Mark Bassant’s investigative report, ‘TTFA’s Secret Panama Trail’, have not only confirmed what was already known by United TTFA and others, but have added new facts and allegations to the long file of financial mismanagement and malfeasance of the David John-Williams administration.
No one knew the full extent of the financial disaster provoked by the former president’s actions, but this was the central issue in TTFA under John-Williams. Ultimately, United TTFA, and others, acted on 24 November 2019 to remove the former president and his enablers from power, despite Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s open support for John-Williams.
The necessary assessment of TTFA finances in the immediate aftermath of our election victory brought facts to light that some wished to remain under cover of darkness. The revelation of these facts, some of them financial crimes under Trinidad and Tobago law, provoked an oppressive reaction by FIFA—the imposition of a so called normalisation committee on 17 March 2020.
On several occasions prior to the November 2019 election, United TTFA and TTFA Board members brought dubious practices in TTFA’s general financial management—and in the management of the Home of Football project, in particular—to the attention of FIFA’s head official for Africa and the Caribbean and project supervisor, Veron Mosengo-Omba, during his visits to Couva.
Mr Mosengo-Omba’s stock response was: ‘That is internal TTFA business. Fifa is satisfied’.
FIFA ‘was satisfied’ despite the fact that it conducts an annual audit of TTFA finances and despite the glaring contravention of its project management regulations. In all of this malfeasance, Fifa was either guilty of gross ignorance of its own regulations and, therefore, gross mismanagement; or it was guilty of gross negligence and complicity in the actions of David John-Williams.
In any event, United TTFA concluded from the outset that Fifa imposed its normalisation committee to prevent the forensic investigation that had been ordered by the TTFA Board, and to cover up all of John-Williams’ financial shenanigans.
In April, Fifa’s normalisation committee chairman, Robert Hadad, made it amply clear to the media he was ‘not here to play a blame game’—that is, to examine TTFA’s immediate past under John-Williams.
Since that time TTFA’s general secretary, Ramesh Ramdhan has stated that: 1) Hadad allegedly advised him that he knew he had been appointed to shield John-Williams; and 2) John-Williams is allegedly a key Hadad adviser who speaks with Hadad regularly.
During the 27 August 2020 meeting of selected TTFA members, hosted by the Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe, John-Williams featured and supported the normalisation committee. In that meeting Hadad claimed John-Williams ‘did nothing wrong’ during his tenure, and further, that one United TTFA member was ‘lying on him’.
In Bassant’s film national football icon and ESPN commentator Shaka Hislop described Hadad’s behaviour as a ‘dereliction of duty’.
United TTFA has long described the normalisation committee as illegal. That is the basis of our court case against FIFA.
However, given the long standing record of complaints by TTFA Board members against John-Williams’ financial mismanagement and malfeasance, and given Bassant’s film, Hadad’s stout defence of John-Williams clearly demonstrates the lack of independent judgment, integrity and credibility one would rightfully expect from a Fifa representative and from Fifa itself.
United TTFA refuses to bow to Fifa and its discredited normalisation committee in its effort to remove the Wallace administration, which is actually victim of John-Williams’ actions.
United TTFA refuses to allow FIFA to ‘normalise’ what the entire country saw laid bare by Bassant’s documentary.
United TTFA refuses to allow FIFA to continue turning a blind eye to the victimisation of our country’s youth and its football development.
‘TTFA’s Secret Panama Trail’ has amply demonstrated that Fifa has no moral authority to remove the Wallace administration, and that Fifa has many questions to answer itself.
In light of what is now in the public record regarding the past administration, the normalisation committee’s public support for John-Williams, and John-Williams’ alleged key role as advisor to said committee, United TTFA now calls for the following:
- The chairman of the normalisation committee must resign immediately;
- Fifa must remove the normalisation committee and must recognise the elected TTFA officers;
- Fifa must begin talks with said officers to devise a joint approach to existing issues;
- Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe should approach Fifa in support of TTFA in this initiative;
- The appropriate state authorities should access and examine Bassant’s documentary file on the Home of Football project.
These measures would immediately set the stage for resolution of all issues and facilitate the stabilisation and progress of Trinidad and Tobago football.
Finally, we call on our Caribbean brothers and sisters to unite in our support in this our gravest hour. It is the Caribbean that brought leadership change to Fifa once before. And it is the united Caribbean that can make Fifa a more humane organisation—one that is guided by global democracy, global equality, and global justice.