US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John McIntyre has issued a statement criticising TT Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams, for "poor planning" and "dropping the ball" regarding women's team visa applications for the Concacaf U-15 Championship.
The developmental tournament kicked off on Monday, with several smaller Caribbean nations including Dominica and Antigua & Barbuda, as well as an invited team from Portugal, in attendance.
The Under-15 TT team was preparing specifically for the tournament and were reportedly "very disappointed" upon learning they would not be able to attend since their applications were not processed by the given deadline.
In the statement, which appeared on the embassy's website and Twitter page, McIntyre said he felt compelled to respond because John-Williams' "failure to plan is effecting (sic) promising football players from Trinidad and Tobago who we would welcome playing in the USA."
On Thursday, John-Williams was quoted in a newspaper report saying the TTFA applied for visas within the usual time frame using the normal procedure.
“We applied for the visas at no different time than we normally would apply," John-Williams said.
McIntyre, in his statement said, "In addition, your comments can adversely affect our ongoing efforts to grow our sports diplomacy programmes here in TT."
"I will be blunt," he added. "Mr Williams and the TTFA just flat out dropped the ball on the visa process. Our Embassy for months noted that individuals and groups should plan well in advance for any trips to the USA. The Trinidad and Tobago Girls Under-15 representatives approached the Embassy about visas after we were closed on Tuesday, July 31 to get their visas by Friday, August 3 with the Emancipation holiday in between."
"Many groups have successfully travelled to the USA by being prepared and planning in advance. In fact, if you look at our Facebook page from a few weeks ago you will see a youth team playing in the USA at a major football (soccer) tourney," McIntyre said.
"Know, as you see in the news almost daily, we are committed to our relationship with the citizens of T and T at all levels, including sports diplomacy. Don’t let folks with cocoa in the sun mislead you."