FC Santa Rosa owner and coach Keith Look Loy has called on referees to end their protest action against him and turn up for duty when his club squares off against Siparia Spurs in a rescheduled TT Super League match at the Palo Seco Recreation Ground on Sunday. Look Loy, in a press conference yesterday at the Arima Town Hall, described the referees’ actions as “illegal and unethical” and currently detrimental to local football.
Look Loy was supported by Clynt Taylor, general secretary of the Central Football Association (CFA), and Selby Browne, president of the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago.
Referees have boycotted three games since Look Loy and his assistant coach Jovan Rochford verbally abused referee Cecile Hinds in a November 5 fixture vs Guaya United at the Arima Velodrome after one of their player was knocked unconscious during the game and they felt Hinds was not giving him the attention he required.
Look Loy and Rochford extended apologies to Hinds via email on November 6 and later accepted the $1,000 fine and one-match ban imposed by the disciplinary committee of the TTSL.
Look Loy said yesterday the committee’s ruling must be respected and believes the issue has been allowed to fester for too long.
The FC Santa Rosa boss rejected claims by Joseph Taylor, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association, that the punishment was too lenient and referees are wary of threats they may face while officiating FC Santa Rosa games.
“Joseph Taylor has been creating an imagery of threats of violence against referees at FC Santa Rosa games. I want to make something clear, the only club – bar the Police and Army – that provides uniformed security for referees from changing room to field back to the car park when they’re leaving is FC Santa Rosa. There has been no report of referee abuse by anybody associated with FC Santa Rosa up to the match against Guaya United on November 5. To try and paint a picture of the environment surrounding FC Santa Rosa as a threat to referees is a falsehood.
“We were fined $1,000 – five times what we would have to pay if a Magistrates Court was dealing with it (obscene language). Whether they like it or not, they have been paid to referee and they have to come and referee...In the interest of football and the league in general, we should move forward from this and complete the league,” he said.
Clynt, who is also a referee, said he fully condemns the abuse of Hinds by the FC Santa Rosa coach but he cannot support the current standoff between Look Loy and the referees as it is affecting all other teams in the league.
“We (referees) went from bypassing discussion to punishing the league because we (referees) want to punish Mr Look Loy for apparent transgressions of the past. We can’t say ‘all these years Mr Look Loy has been speaking out against referees’ and now we get an opportunity to punish him for all of it. It don’t work that way. The league via the Disciplinary Committee imposed a sanction and whether we like it or not we have to live with it. Hence the reason why the CFA has taken the reason to stand with Mr Look Loy and the TTSL for what is right,” Taylor said.
Taylor pointed out teams are spending significant sums on match days and when officials do not show up, it is money down the drain especially when they have to travel between the islands. He said it is quite difficult in the current economic climate to attract sponsors and money cannot be wasted. Two Super League games which did not feature FC Santa Rosa were boycotted recently after Look Loy made statements questioning the impartiality of Tobago referees.
Browne believes the TTFA needs to get involved immediately for the matter to be resolved in the shortest period.
“I want to congratulate the TTSL for taking its own initiative in having a fine and sanction against Mr Look Loy for his conduct.
I await the TTFA calling both parties together. Football is a team sport. It’s led by an administration and it’s priority is the footballers. Who must the administration serve?
The footballers. Who then are affected by this action? The footballers,” he said.