The Fifa-appointed normalisation committee has requested a report into a row between Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team assistant coach Kelvin Jack and 18-year-old player Gary Griffith III, which occurred just hours before their World Cup qualifying outing against The Bahamas on Saturday 5 June.
Jack, the 45-year-old 2006 World Cup goalkeeper and former Scotland Premier League player, criticised Griffith III—the son of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith—on Saturday morning for his behaviour the previous night when the player refused to attend a team bonding exercise in Nassau.
The rookie player, according to eyewitnesses, reacted angrily to the admonition and began taping the exchange, which he since released to unnamed persons back in Trinidad and Tobago.
Wired868 has not seen the tape, although team manager Adrian Romain confirmed that the normalisation committee is looking into it.
“A report has been requested by the normalisation committee, and that is as much as I can relay at this point in time,” Romain told Wired868. “Also the team is focused on finishing this campaign on a high.”
Jack, who has joint assistant coach and goalkeeper coach duties for the men’s team and was recently announced as goalkeeper coach for the Women’s National Senior Team, declined comment—for now.
“Right now, I have a huge game to prepare for and a sick mother in Couva with Covid to think about,” said Jack. “But I will absolutely comment at the right time.”
Trinidad and Tobago play their final World Cup qualifier against St Kitts and Nevis from 5pm tomorrow at the Estadio Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo. However, the Warriors have no chance of advancing to the next stage, as the ‘Sugar Boyz’ are already four points clear atop Group F.
The normalisation committee, which replaced the board of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), is chaired by Robert Hadad and also includes Judy Daniel, Nigel Romano, and Trevor Nicholas Gomez.
The exchange between player and assistant coach followed a remarkable outburst by the police commissioner on Friday night, when he publicly vowed to stop assisting the TTFA due, he claimed, to questions from Trinidad Express investigative journalist Denyse Renne regarding his relationship with Soca Warriors head coach Terry Fenwick.
Earlier that day, Fenwick informed his son that he was not included in the 22-man squad to face the Bahamas and would be one of three standbys.
Griffith, an avid sport fan and former domestic top flight hockey player, has been a patron of the TTFA for at least the last eight years. However, his level of involvement with the current Soca Warriors team—with his son in the player pool—is so high that he was even a member of the coaching staff’s WhatsApp group.
The police commissioner left the WhatsApp group on Friday while his son also, allegedly, expressed his frustration at missing out on selection to face the Bahamas by returning to his room after dinner and refusing invitations to rejoin his teammates for a bonding exercise.
On Saturday morning, Griffith III apologised to his teammates for his behaviour. However, as the team assembled for breakfast, Jack was not prepared to leave it there.
“Jack told him: ‘you are very disrespectful and you should not be eating with the team, you disrespected the staff and your teammates’,” said one eyewitness, on condition of anonymity. “And Gary [Griffith III] replied: ‘wam to you boy?’ And he took out his phone and started taping him.
“Jack went on telling him that he can go ahead and tape and send it to his father and that his father can’t do him anything, because he has more influence in Trinidad football than his father.”
Fenwick, according to eyewitnesses, did not publicly address Griffith III’s behaviour but said only that he would speak to the teenager privately.
Wired868 asked Fenwick for his view on the exchange between Jack and Griffith III and whether he supported the actions of his assistant coach. The website also asked Fenwick and Griffith whether the police commissioner was a member of the national team technical staff’s WhatsApp group and, if so, for what reason.
Neither Fenwick nor Griffith responded by the time of publication.
An eyewitness claimed several players expressed gratitude to Jack for his actions, although that could not be confirmed. However, one person close to Griffith III described Jack’s criticism of the young man as ‘an aggressive rant’ and claimed the coach ‘put his hand in [Griffith III’s] face’—although that source is in Trinidad at present and was not at the hotel in Nassau.
Hadad and his colleagues disbanded all of the TTFA’s standing committees since 2020, including the technical committee and disciplinary committee, which leaves their quartet as the sole arbitrators within the local game—although none of the four officials had any meaningful involvement in football before their Fifa appointments.
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