Home / Volley / Global Football / Downer: ‘I don’t want to be the lone wolf!’ TTFA stakeholders mum as Hadad flounders

Downer: ‘I don’t want to be the lone wolf!’ TTFA stakeholders mum as Hadad flounders

Trinidad and Tobago football is comprised of international teams, domestic leagues, zonal bodies, administrative support staff, coaching education and player development—all overseen by standing committees which report back to the board of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Some of those components have been laid low by the Covid-19 pandemic. Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad and his team of Judy Daniel, Nigel Romano and Trevor Nicholas Gomez appear to have flattened the rest.

Photo: Normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad (background) talks to players before a Men’s National Senior Team training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 20 November 2020.
(via TTFA Media)

Thirteen months since Fifa moved to replace elected president William Wallace with Hadad and company, there has been no semblance of democracy within the local game.

Hadad, the co-CEO of HadCo Limited, has not held a single general meeting—as mandated by the constitution—to share information and take direction from football stakeholders, while he unilaterally declared over a dozen standing committees to be null and void, which meant there were no mechanisms to provide specialist advice to the committee.

(The normalisation committee, according to Fifa, replaces the TTFA Board but not the entire football structure.)

Fifa’s specific mandate to the normalisation committee, for which the chairman receives US$6,500 (TT$44,000) per month and the members pocket US$4,000 (TT$27,000) respectively, was and remains:

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino (left) and secretary general Fatma Samoura.
  • 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.

There is no sign that any of those tasks are being addressed—and certainly none effectively—while two of the game’s most valuable stakeholders, the players and coaches, voiced their disgust yesterday at the perceived dishonest and callous leadership that now prevails.

If there is to be pushback from within the local football body, it will probably come from a new source.

Former TTFA Board member and technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy, a regular thorn in the side of former president David John-Williams, has retired from active participation in the administrative side of the game.

Photo: Former TTSL president and FC Santa Rosa owner Keith Look Loy leads a march for peace in Arima on 17 March 2018.
(Copyright Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) president Osmond Downer has not left the building—not yet anyway. But he also appears ready to pass on the baton.

“I don’t want to be the lone wolf crying in the wilderness, repeating the same damn thing all the time,” Downer told Wired868. “[…] I have said over and over that Fifa has only replaced the board of the TTFA with the normalisation committee, but the constitution of the TTFA has not been suspended by Fifa. Because if you suspend the constitution you have no TTFA.

“So therefore everything must be done in keeping with all the articles of the constitution, which are well spelt out: such as standing committees, general meetings, etc. Good? I don’t think I should say any more.”

Nobody else, to date, is willing to speak out from within the TTFA’s delegates.

In theory, since the constitution remains in place, the football member’s could call a no-confidence motion against Hadad and the normalisation committee, and pressure Fifa president Gianni Infantino to replace them before their term ends in March 2022.

But there is no suggestion that this option is being actively considered.

Photo: Businessman Robert Hadad.

Ironically, there has long been a cry to involve more persons from the business community in local football, so as to create a more professional approach and to introduce fresh ideas.

Hadad, who was a patron to the QPCC football academy and had a son who trained with the National Under-15 Team, might have single-handedly killed any notion that the answer to football’s problems lay in the minds of ‘big business titans’.

Whatever advantages or abilities allowed Hadad to thrive in the private sector do not appear to be transferrable outside of that industry—certainly not in an organisation with a national sccope, as opposed to a community pan side. And there has been no trace of the humility, open-mindedness or respect needed for him to learn to effectively navigate his new environment.

Hadad’s family business, HadCo Group, includes: Apadoca’s, Caribbean Battery Recycling Ltd, Caribbean LED Lighting, Creamery Novelties, Ecoimpact, Fresh, Hadco Ltd, Happy Time (ice cream cones), Haagen-Dazs, Hexcorp, JRJ Bonded Warehouse, Kelec Electrical, Land Ice & Fish, Lighthouse Ltd, Little Woods Foods, Mousie’s Ice Cream, New Age Recycling, Nova Lighting, One-Ocean Cargo, Peppercorns, and Sampson’s Transport Company.

Photo: Hadco co-CEOS and brothers John Hadad (left) and Robert Hadad show off their Creamery Novelties product.

Football, an industry in which your short-term employees—players and coaches—are the most important components of your entire structure, appears to be a bridge too far for the Fifa appointee.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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3 comments

  1. “Hadad’s family business, HadCo Group, includes: Apadoca’s, Caribbean Battery Recycling Ltd, Caribbean LED Lighting, Creamery Novelties, Ecoimpact, Fresh, Hadco Ltd, Happy Time (ice cream cones), Haagen-Dazs, Hexcorp, JRJ Bonded Warehouse, Kelec Electrical, Land Ice & Fish, Lighthouse Ltd, Little Woods Foods, Mousie’s Ice Cream, New Age Recycling, Nova Lighting, One-Ocean Cargo, Peppercorns, and Sampson’s Transport Company”.

    This additional information on Hadad’s family business, HadCo Group is indeed critically relevant in the context of your article and is not just a case of simply giving information.

    Bravo.

  2. TTFA – Rinse, repeat…laundry still dirty. Either get a new washer or keep wearing the same dirty clothes