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‘A breeding ground for mismanagement and fraud!’ TTFA Members report Hadad-led NC to Fifa

Eight of the 16 bodies that comprise the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have accused Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad and his colleagues of ‘weak management’, poor communication, ‘glaring errors regarding […] proper corporate governance’ and ‘creating a breeding ground for mismanagement and fraud’.

The accusations, supported by multiple examples in a 14-page letter, were sent to Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura, Hadad and normalisation committee members Judy Daniel, Nigel L Romano and Trevor Nicholas Gomez today by Eastern FA president Kieron Edwards, in the strongest move yet against the current, non-elected TTFA head and his controversial body.

Photo: Businessman Robert Hadad was appointed by Fifa on 27 March 2020 as head of Trinidad and Tobago’s normalisation committee.

The letter was signed by acting Pro League chairman Brent Sancho, Northern FA president Ross Russell, Central FA president Shymdeo Gosine, Southern FA president Richard Quan Chan, Eastern Counties FU vice-president Ian Pritchard, Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president Merere Gonzales, and Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) president Osmond Downer.

Together, the signatories represent bodies that account for 28 of the TTFA’s 47 member delegates—although it does not necessarily mean that each delegate within the respective body feels the same way. On the surface, though, it would appear that Hadad has lost the confidence of more than half of the TTFA.

In a break from the norm, the normalisation committee responded swiftly via a press statement, which asked for more time to solve the highlighted issues while noting that the complaints were not entirely accurate.

“We understand the concerns of the TTFA Members and will be addressing those issues with the membership directly this week,” stated the unsigned release from the TTFA Media. “[…] It must be noted that many details outlined in the document are inaccurate and based on assumptions. We will endeavour to improve on the communication channels between the TTFA and its membership, so that the members are provided with accurate sources of information on these matters, with the aim of fostering a stronger relationship between all parties.

Photo: Seventeen-year-old Puerto Rico flanker Wilfredo Rivera (centre) skips past Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland during World Cup qualifying action in Mayaguez on 28 March 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

“It is however unfortunate that this letter, which was sent internally, has found its way into the media space. Trust between the TTFA and its membership is paramount to developing this strong relationship and we believe that by working together earnestly, it can be achieved.”

Hadad, the co-CEO of HadCo Limited, was appointed by Fifa on 27 March 2020 along with Daniel and Romano, while Gomez was added to the normalisation committee earlier this year.

Hadad received the support of 38 TTFA delegates, including Edwards, on 28 October 2020 when members voted to accept the authority of his committee, which was the final nail in the coffin of then local football president William Wallace. The Fifa suspension of the TTFA was subsequently lifted on 15 November 2020.

However, the mood has shifted steadily since, with creditors and stakeholders—including former technical director Anton Corneal, coaches association president Jefferson George, Downer and anonymous players—criticising Hadad’s supposed callous, unilateral leadership style and aversion to the truth.

Photo: Former TTFA technical director Anton Corneal.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Fifa has now been officially informed of the mutinous mood against the businessman and his gang, whose ‘poor financial management and inept corporate governance’ was accused of creating ‘a breeding ground for mismanagement and fraud’.

The TTFA membership also charged that the normalisation committee’s attempt to run local football without any standing committees was a further example of the unsuitability of Hadad, Daniel, Romano and Gomez to the task.

“[…] How therefore, do you propose to run football in Trinidad and Tobago without a technical and development committee—as enshrined in our constitution?” asked the TTFA members. “[…] Who does the coaches report to? You? We urge that you must recognise that you do not have the technical footballing experience to supervise the performance of the national coaches and this will lead to poor decisions on your part.

“[…] We also wish to remind you that your primary function was to develop a debt repayment plan, yet you have not appointed a finance committee. This is incompetent on your part, as you have not developed a debt repayment plan and even worse your decisions have increased the expenses of TTFA.”  

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
The TTFA owes Hart TT$5 million, which makes him its second largest creditor.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

At least as worrying, according to the letter, was Hadad’s failure to call an annual general meeting to allow for the appointment of external auditors, and to scrap the audit and compliance committee.

“You have not called an annual general meeting and as such who will appoint the external auditors? Yourself?” TTFA’s members asked. “This is clearly unacceptable, since you cannot appoint an auditor that will audit your financial decisions. It is even more astounding that you have elected not to appoint an audit and compliance committee […] as this committee is critical in reviewing the financial performance of your management. 

“Your decisions regarding the aforementioned fact are frightening and it is a breeding ground for mismanagement and fraud.”

The TTFA members also criticised Hadad and the normalisation committee for failure to address issues with the contract of Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick as well as his behaviour, as evidenced by his public altercation with press officer Shaun Fuentes.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick (right) leans aggressively towards TTFA press officer Shaun Fuentes during an altercation at a press briefing on 17 March 2021.

“Here again you have mismanaged the situation and you are encouraging violence and aggression within the TTFA,” stated the letter, “and this is unacceptable by the members.”

Fenwick was hired under the Wallace-led administration. However, the members suggested that the normalisation committee suspended general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan for issues with his contract while continuing to recognise the English coach.

Among the listed concerns are that the normalisation committee:

  • Not only failed to offer a cohesive, structured debt repayment plan—as mandated by Fifa—but has been incapable of handling the current expenses of the local body, such as payments to national coaches;
  • Increased debt by hiring Adrian Romain as team manager while Captain Basil Thompson was in the position and moving the latter to the post of logistics manager, which is non-existent according to the constitution;
Photo: Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick (left) has a word with assistant Keon Trim (centre) and manager Adrian Romain during a training session at the St James Police Barracks on 13 November 2020.
Neither Trim nor Fenwick were hired by the previous TTFA technical committee.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/Wired868)
  • Saddled TTFA with a string of ‘expensive foreign coaches’ which ‘illustrates poor financial management’ and was ‘exorbitant, excessive and ridiculous’;
  • Failed to address any TTFA Statutes in need of amendments;
  • Failed to present any management reports or display basic transparency and accountability regarding the TTFA’s day-to-day affairs;
  • Mismanaged World Cup qualifiers by failing to submit proposal for home games in timely fashion, despite knowing about the fixtures nine months in advance;
  • Failed to hold AGM or provide audited financial statements for year ending 31 December 2020, which is ‘a critical part of the compliance process of Fifa’.
  • Failed to follow ‘proper corporate governance procedures’ and the TTFA constitution by appointing external auditors, an audit and compliance committee, or any standing committees at all.
Photo: (From left to right) TTFA press officer Shaun Fuentes, head coach Terry Fenwick, normalisation committee chair Robert Hadad, team manager Adrian Romain, and assistant coach Derek King pose at the Piarco International Airport before the team’s departure for Santo Domingo on 18 March 2021.

The letter criticised the normalisation committee for its failure to hire a Women’s National Senior Team head coach. However, by the time it had amassed signatures from more than half of the TTFA’s member bodies, the normalisation committee had hired Welshman James Thomas for that task.

Thomas was announced as the Women’s Soca Warriors head coach on Thursday.

The controversial clauses in Fenwick’s contract identified in the letter were also approved by Wallace, rather than Hadad.

Wired868 asked Hadad for a response to the accusations by the TTFA members and whether he had, as promised, employed the same management techniques in local football that he uses at HadCo. He did not reply up to the time of publication.

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

However, the normalisation committee did subsequently submit a press statement.

(Full response from normalisation committee)

The normalisation committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has received a letter from TTFA Members on 1 May 2021. We understand the concerns of the TTFA Members and will be addressing those issues with the membership directly this week.

The normalisation process was fully allowed to function as of November 2020 and the process for any Member Association is difficult and challenging. Fifa and Concacaf continue to guide this process as we work towards resurrecting football out of its doldrums, which has been made more complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It must be noted that many details outlined in the document are inaccurate and based on assumptions. We will endeavour to improve on the communication channels between the TTFA and its membership so that the members are provided with accurate sources of information on these matters, with the aim of fostering a stronger relationship between all parties.

It is however unfortunate that this letter, which was sent internally, has found its way into the media space. Trust between the TTFA and its membership is paramount to developing this strong relationship and we believe that by working together earnestly, it can be achieved.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the full letter by Kieron Edwards to Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura and normalisation committee members Robert Hadad, Judy Daniel, Nigel L Romano, and Trevor Nicholas Gomez.

 

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and 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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4 comments

  1. Better the devil u have than the one u don’t know. They ousted Wallace and this is what they got.

  2. Guilty as accused, but if FIFA has no issue then who are you’ll to point out these missteps?
    I’ll fall on deaf ears. Good try though…….