On Saturday 1 May, representatives for roughly half of the membership of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) wrote a stinging 14-page rebuke of the operation of the Fifa-appointed normalisation committee. The missive was forwarded to Fifa Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
“We look forward to a prompt response from you with regards to our aforementioned concerns,” the members closed, “and ask that you specify in detail, how these matters will be addressed.”
The letter was sent by Eastern FA president Kieron Edwards and 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.
The normalisation committee, which comprises chairman Robert Hadad, vice-chair Judy Daniel, and ordinary members Nigel L Romano, and Trevor Nicholas Gomez, responded within hours:
“We understand the concerns of the TTFA Members and will be addressing those issues with the membership directly this week.”
The normalisation committee statement, as always, was unsigned, which is arguably typical of the slipshod management that they have offered to local football thus far.
And, having promised to respond in a week, the normalisation committee then took 17 days before sending a second email—rather than, of course, calling a virtual meeting for all parties.
“The normalisation committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association has taken the initiative to provide an update on the state of affairs of the TTFA,” started the response.
‘Taken the initiative’? Seriously?
Well, Hadad, Daniel, Romano, and Gomez were late, sloppy, and clearly happy to take liberties with the truth of the reason behind their letter. But did they at least address the concerns of the membership?
Wired868 will try to answer that question by juxtaposing the members’ issues with the normalisation committee’s responses, while offering our own overview to help guide readers.
(On the issue of debt repayment)
To date, either there has been no cohesive and structured debt repayment plan presented to the members of the TTFA or the members have not been made aware of such plan by the normalisation committee to liquidate the outstanding debts to coaches, players, technical staff, TTFA administrative staff and other creditors.
Rather, there seems to be a greater concern with setting up a ‘Unified League’ than developing and presenting a well-organised and practical debt repayment strategy as mandated.
[…] As such, we the undersigned request that you notify us of the debt repayment plan that has been implemented by the normalisation committee and as mandated by Fifa.
Given the TTFA’s poor financial condition, the NC engaged an independent professional services firm, Ernst & Young Services Limited (EY), to verify the TTFA’s creditors.
EY’s report, dated 9 April 2021, revealed total estimated outstanding liabilities and unasserted claims (contingent liabilities) of approximately TT$98.5 million as of 9 February 2021. EY also reported major policy, procedural and control deficiencies within the TTFA’s Purchase to Pay process.
EYs work will assist with the formulation of a debt repayment plan as well as inform the remediation requirements necessary to enhance the TTFA’s overall governance and control environment.
[…] League football in Trinidad and Tobago is going through a transitionary phase with discussions centred on the development of a national league structure. The NC has contacted the FIFA League Development Programme for advice and technical guidance as it designs the unified league structure from grassroots to elite players.
This exercise is being led by a steering committee which is comprised of representatives from the key stakeholders of league football in Trinidad and Tobago.
Wired868 overview: Not only has the normalisation committee again failed to offer a debt repayment plan or even a timeline for which one will be delivered, but the Robert Hadad-led normalisation committee has spent more money for Ernst & Young to duplicate the assessment of the TTFA’s financial structure done by finance committee head Kendall Tull in February 2020.
The TTFA’s finance committee, implemented by the previous administration, operated pro bono and Fifa, as evidenced by sworn affidavits, said it was satisfied with Tull’s financial assessment. Yet Hadad dismantled the finance committee without ever meeting Tull and paid Ernst & Young to provide a service he already had for free.
By the way, the irony that the normalisation committee used three paragraphs to discuss the unified league while failing to give any information on debt repayment—which was the whole point of the reference by members in the first place—clearly missed Hadad and his gang.
Wired868 conclusion: The normalisation committee not only failed miserably to address the membership’s concerns, but never really tried. Score: 0/10.
(On the issue of overdue financial statements)
The audited financial statements have not yet been presented to the TTFA members or published for the year ended 31st December 2020. The deadline […] was the 31st March, 2021 and as such, it is overdue.
I wish to draw your attention to article 71 of the TTFA’s Constitution which states: The independent external auditors appointed by the general meeting shall audit the accounts approved by the finance committee in accordance with the appropriate principles of accounting and present a report to the general meeting.
Kindly indicate when the audited financials will be completed and presented to the members of the Association and published. This is clearly a sign of poor financial management and inept corporate governance. It is also a breeding ground for mismanagement and fraud.
We also wish to remind you that submission of audited financial statements is a critical part of the compliance process of Fifa and you have ignored this. This is not a good example to set for the clubs in Trinidad and Tobago, as they too must submit audited financial statements by 31 March 2021. Here again you have failed in running the daily operations of Trinidad and Tobago football.
You have not called an annual general meeting and as such who will appoint the external auditors? Yourself? This is clearly unacceptable, since you cannot appoint an auditor that will audit your financial decisions.
Here again you have flagrantly ignored proper corporate governance procedures. We wish to inform you that an auditor must be appointed for the year 2021 and this appointment must come from the members and not yourself.
The audited financial statements for years ended 31 December 2017 and 2018 reported that the TTFA’s current liabilities far exceeded its current assets casting doubt on the TTFA’s ability to continue as a going concern.
In the most recent audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2019, dated 26 February 2021, the auditors were not able to provide an opinion since they could not be assured of the TTFA’s ability to satisfy all its debts and to continue as a going concern.
The TTFA members asked: ‘Who will appoint the external auditors? Yourself?’ It might have seemed to be a ridiculous question; until they got their answer.
Hadad, Daniel, Romano, and Gomez appear to have admitted to violating the TTFA Constitution again by hiring an auditor without being appropriately guided by the membership. The gang then compounded this violation by keeping the report to themselves.
Yes, four non-football officials collected the financial statements for the local football body since 26 February 2021; and, in arguably an extraordinary show of hubris and discourtesy, declined to share that data with football stakeholders. They have not even offered a date for when they make the financial statements available to the TTFA’s stakeholders.
The best way to put the brass of Hadad, Daniel, Romano, and Gomez into context is to note that not even Jack Warner or David John-Williams denied members access to their annual financial statements. Score: 0/10.
(On the issue of perceived financial management and increased debt)
Since your appointment on the 27th of March 2020, there seems to be an increase in expenditure for the TTFA. In fact, Mr Adrian Romain was hired as manager of the Senior Men’s Team; however, Mr Basil Thompson was already employed as the team’s manager. As such, Mr Thompson now holds the position of logistics manager—a post nonexistent in our constitution.
This is clearly an unnecessary expense which you have approved and it has increased the debt of the TTFA even further. In addition, you have hired a number of high-priced foreign coaches such as the Men’s Senior National Team head coach at US$20,000 per month, the goalkeeping coach at US$9,000 per month and the assistant coach to the national team at US$8,000 per month.
[….] We the members are of the opinion that this is not financially prudent and it clearly illustrates poor financial management, which is contrary to your instructions given by Fifa.
There are also examples in the Futsal and the Beach Soccer Teams where you have hired expensive foreign coaches… Your spending on coaches is exorbitant, excessive and ridiculous. Such expenditure cannot be justified given your debt management mandate by Fifa […] and this illustrates how you have mismanaged the funding provided by Fifa.
Financial governance is a cornerstone and an indication of the strength of an organisation. Pursuant to the audited financial statements, the NC’s review of the organisation and EY’s findings, it appears that the Association suffered from weak financial governance and, as a result, has been mismanaged for several years.
[…] We cannot repeat what happened at the start of 2020, when the TTFA appointed dozens of coaching and technical staff for its various National Teams and other administrative staff, committing to pay net salaries amounting to just under US$1.0 million; about 100% of the TTFA’s annual Fifa Forward allocation, the TTFA’s only confirmed source of funding.
Therefore, funds for other expenses—including airfare and accommodation for tournaments, utilities and insurance, to name a few—were not adequately budgeted. The NC is working assiduously to remedy the negative financial position of the TTFA by securing new sources of funding and exploring options to address outstanding debt.
[…] The TTFA signed a two-year sportswear apparel sponsorship deal with Miami based company BOL Football LLC (BOL). Under this arrangement, the TTFA receives apparel for all National Teams free of charge as well as benefits from an extensive incentive bonus scheme for National Team’s qualification and success at Men’s and Women’s international tournaments.
BOL has also offered the TTFA a revenue sharing program for team branded products sold around the world.
[…] The NC has carefully managed the limited resources available and maintained the necessary staff to fulfil its sporting requirements. In this regard, the Men’s National Senior Team coaching staff, which was appointed by the previous administration in January and February 2020, was maintained.
These SMNT contracts were all deemed valid and legally binding after review by legal counsel based on the fact that they were signed by the then president William Wallace. As per article 41 of the TTFA Constitution, the president represents the TTFA legally and is entitled to sign for the TTFA.
In line with the mandate of the NC, the National Futsal head coach Constantine Konstin and staff, who were originally appointed in 2020, were re-appointed by the NC in 2021 on reduced payment terms.
The National Beach Soccer Team staff was not appointed in 2020. The Beach Soccer Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BSATT) approached the NC with a detailed proposal in preparation for the Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship 2021.
The proposal included the appointment of head coach, Ramiro Amarelle, and his staff and included provisions for the BSATT to provide resources, through its sponsors, in the form of accommodation, ground transportation, meals, airfare and other financial assistance to offset the needs of the coach and his staff.
James Thomas has been appointed as head coach for the Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT). Additional time was taken to craft an employment contract for Mr Thomas, which is in the best interest of and protects the TTFA, and now serves as a template for future contracts.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted how sporting events will function in the foreseeable future and youth football is no different. While the NC, which has been operational for a little over five months, determines how best to deploy the finances available to run football today, the technical department of the TTFA has been developing plans for women’s and youth football.
The normalisation committee did not present to members the legal opinions regarding contracts signed without board approval, namely that of Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick.
However, it is true that the technical staff were hired by the previous administration though. And although the members balked at rehiring foreign coaches like Constantine Konstin, the American futsal coach, was selected through the proper process in 2020 and there seems to be no good reason for a group lacking football expertise to overturn the judgment of the last technical committee by not allowing him to lead the National Futsal Team.
In fact, if the normalisation committee hired him on reduced terms, then Hadad and company might be due credit for good business here.
And while it is true that Adrian Romain is a new appointee, it is not unreasonable that the Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick be granted an additional member for his support staff, granted that the cost fits the TTFA’s budget and does not overvalue what Romain brings to the table.
But what is Thomas set to earn as Women Soca Warriors head coach? What clauses are included to protect the TTFA? Since Thomas’ salary will come from the TTFA’s allocation—and not the pockets of the normalisation committee members—don’t the members deserve more information than that?
What are the terms of the BOL deal? Was a tender done? Were there other bidders, and what did they offer?
The normalisation committee appears to be on relatively firm ground with regards to existing contracts (once done on the say-so of respected legal counsel) and the hiring of coaches here. But the devil is in the details and, again, those were not shared. Score: 4/10.
(On the issue of proposed amendments to the TTFA Statutes)
The normalisation committee is expected to review and amend the TTFA Statues to ensure compliance with the Fifa Statutes and requirements and submit the amendments to the TTFA Congress for approval. To date, the members of the association have neither been informed of any such amendments to the statutes nor was it submitted to congress for approval.
Article13:m of the TTFA Constitution states that the members are obligated to ratify a constitution that is in accordance with the requirements of this constitution.
We therefore seek further clarification on the execution of this mandate as there has been no communication or consultation with us regarding same.
Fifa and Concacaf continue to guide the TTFA’s governance reform. This process is a work in progress and the recommended structure, when finalised will be submitted to the TTFA’s membership at a general meeting for ratification.
Given the restrictions on gatherings due to the Covid-19 situation, the NC, upon Fifa’s advice and in accordance with the TTFA Constitution, will convene an annual general meeting at a suitable date in the third quarter of 2021, as we believe in the importance of this step.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino convened the global body’s annual general meeting in 2020 and kept all obligations to member associations, even as the Covid-19 pandemic raged across the world. So why would he believe Trinidad and Tobago—which was doing better than most nations on the planet up until six weeks ago—to be incapable of doing the same?
And which crystal ball told Hadad that the third quarter of 2021 would be any better for an AGM than right now?
Fifteen months since his appointment, Hadad is yet to invite all member delegates to a virtual meeting on this matter, or even to send correspondence explaining what he or Fifa wants changed.
Using Covid as an excuse only works if Hadad can point to a World Health Organisation release which shows that the virus can be spread through virtual meetings. Score: 0/10.
(On the issue of the overdue TTFA AGM—or any general meeting—and standing committees)
To date, there has been no annual general meeting called for the year 2020, which contravenes the TTFA’s Constitution… Please indicate when the annual general meeting would be called for the year ended December 2020 as it is long overdue.
There have been no standing committees appointed by the normalisation committee to date. These committees form an integral part of effective management as their core function is to provide support and in-house expertise required to manage and run the association efficiently and effectively.
[…] Fifa, on appointment of the normalisation committee did not disband our existing committees which were implemented by the previous administration… As such, what became of those committees?
[…] The absence of the aforementioned committees undermines the integrity of the Association and minimises our chances of optimal performance in the international arena.
[…] How therefore, do you propose to run football in Trinidad and Tobago without a technical and development committee? […] Who do 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.
[…] It is even more astounding that you have elected not to appoint an audit and compliance committee and this is a vital part of proper corporate governance, 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.
As per the NC’s communication to the TTFA Membership dated 18 January 2021, the standing committees are presently non-operational. Mindful of the role that these committees have played in running TTFA, as we seek to re-align the organisation, the function, purpose, composition and effectiveness of committees and their mandates are being examined as we continue the holistic review of the TTFA’s Constitution.
After the review of the committees is completed and findings are revealed, recommendations for adjustments and ratifications will be brought forward to the general membership.
Constitutionally, many of the committees have no decision-making power, however, their advice and input into the development of Trinidad and Tobago football are valued.
Fifa has more standing committees than the TTFA; and they are all operational. How do Hadad, Daniel, Romano, and Gomez expect to run the local football with no advice, other than what they seek out informally for themselves?
The simple answer as to how the normalisation committee plans to run the TTFA appears to be: very poorly.
Surely this is not how Romano conducts business in the public sector as chairman of National Insurance Property Development Company Limited (NIPDEC) and National Flour Mills.
Again, the normalisation committee does not directly address any of the pertinent concerns raised by the members. And, with typical chutzpah, the Hadad-led body said it ‘values’ the input of the standing committees while continuing to operate without them and offering no date for their reinstatement. Score: 1/10.
(On the issue of Fenwick’s altercation with TTFA press manager Shaun Fuentes)
It is alleged that Mr Fenwick, at a press conference, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Wednesday 21 March 2021 physically assaulted media officer Shaun Fuentes in front of journalists. What became of this incident?
As members of the TTFA, we would like to know what disciplinary measures were taken against Mr Fenwick for such aggressive and disrespectful behaviour. Is this the type of behaviour we allow to be swept under the carpet?
[…] Furthermore, the national team head coach has on several occasions, publicly criticised the normalisation committee and your good self. What measures have been taken by the committee to establish respect and discipline from its employees? Moreover, what disciplinary actions are taken against employees who are insubordinate?
[…] This type of misconduct from senior officials undermines the integrity of the game and shows poor corporate governance. It also shows a lack of discipline and respect. This type of behaviour poorly reflects on the TTFA and by extension Trinidad and Tobago.
Here again you have mismanaged the situation and you are encouraging violence and aggression within the TTFA and this is unacceptable by the members.
Regarding disciplinary matters, official incident reports inform any and all disciplinary actions, legal or otherwise and the NC will be guided by the same.
We note that the NC is committed to following due process and will not leave the TTFA exposed to further litigation that may increase the overall debt.
The TTFA membership asked for information regarding a specific matter involving Fenwick, and also for a policy on dealing with disciplinary issues. Did the ‘official incident report’ clear the head coach—as Hadad previously told the media? What is the process used by the normalisation committee for disciplinary matters in general and the Fenwick incident in particular?
The normalisation committee again declined to be transparent regarding its handling of an issue that brought international attention to the TTFA; and offered little comfort to its members. Score: 1/10.
(On the issue of the daily management of local football)
Twelve months have passed since Fifa appointed you as the chairman of the normalisation committee […] and during this time, you have failed to conduct the daily affairs of the TTFA adequately. To date, there has been no communication between the normalisation committee and the members of the TTFA, no monthly management reports presented to members since the committee’s appointment in March 2020, no budgets or projected cash flow statements for the year 2021.
Please note as members of the TTFA, we are very concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability regarding the day-to-day affairs of the association.
You were aware of the World Cup qualifying game against Guyana for nine months and yet you failed to submit a proposal to the government ministries to obtain the approvals to play the game in Trinidad. In fact, you were publicly chastised by the minister of sports for not submitting the proposal on time; and by the time it was submitted it was too late and we had to play our home game in the Dominican Republic.
[…] Ultimately, we the members are very concerned about the weak management of football in Trinidad and Tobago. To date, the mandate as outlined by Fifa’s appointment letter dated 27 March 2020 has not been achieved and it does not look like it will be achieved under your stewardship.
Moreover, you have failed to communicate effectively with the members, seemingly attempting to manage the TTFA on your own.
Although, the TTFA’s financial position has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 health pandemic, the NC remained committed to ensuring that Trinidad and Tobago National Teams were represented at Fifa and Concacaf tournaments.
[…] After Fifa lifted the TTFA’s suspension on 19th November 2020, and Concacaf confirmed the new schedule of the 2021 World Cup Qualifiers on 4 December 2020, the NC held the first of many meetings with the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago on 21 December 2020, to develop plans for hosting the Guyana qualifier in Trinidad.
However, based on the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) response on 19 February 2021 to the TTFA’s proposal, the match had to be played in another territory.
Since then, in preparation for the June 2021 qualifiers, the Ministry of Health has been engaged in numerous discussions to evaluate the option of hosting those games on home soil. However, given the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, that option is not feasible.
Hadad and his committee members are being disingenuous here, which is a euphemism that is scarcely deserved. Concacaf’s clear position was always that the Fifa suspension never excluded the Soca Warriors from the World Cup draw. It is notable too that Hadad took control of the TTFA’s administrative arm or secretariat since March 2020, with no pushback from then president William Wallace.
As such, it is eye-raising that the normalisation committee, by its own admission, held its first meeting for the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying series on 21 December 2020.
The point that the Ministry of Health rejected its proposal on 19 February 2021 skirted over the fact that the said proposal was written just days earlier by general secretary Amiel Mohammed and Romain—even as the TTFA’s medical committee was ignored—and was so shoddy that it failed to even match the Fifa dictates for competition during the pandemic.
More pertinently, the normalisation committee again does not address concerns about its daily operations.
The normalisation committee only pretended to try to answer the question. And it was a weak pretence. Score: 1/10.
Wired868’s overall mark for the response from the Fifa-appointed quartet of Hadad, Daniel, Romano, and Gomez to concerns raised by the TTFA Membership: 7/70.
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