A FRESH cloud of controversy has covered the TT Football Association (TTFA) as its president David John-Williams has been accused of purposely keeping the TTFA board in the dark over the September 11 resignation of then vice-president Joanne Salazar.
Salazar indicated her resignation to the rest of the board on Friday – 10 days after she notified John-Williams and general secretary Justin Latapy-George of her departure.
It came as a surprise to the board as according to one board member, TT Super League president Keith Look Loy, they all believed she was included in the controversial voting process led by John-Williams and chairman of the TTFA technical committee Richard Quan Chan to select Shawn Cooper as head coach of the women's national team.
In another twist in the story, early yesterday morning – hours after Salazar's email to the board – Latapy-George also emailed the board and admitted he was aware of Salazar's resignation but said he was simply following orders from John-Williams not to immediately notify them of the development.
Latapy-George's email to the board read: "...as General Secretary I have been insisting since Sept 11 2018 that the required notice be sent and was, and remain under, hold instructions, in the first instance verbally and in the last instance in writing, from the President."
A TTFA press release on September 15 which revealed the selection of Cooper as head coach of the national women's football team noted "five gave approval of the recommendation, one abstained and three did not approve of the round robin process." Names of the voters were not issued.
"(The non-inclusion of names) is the smoke behind which he (John-Williams) tried to hide but those nine votes had to include her," said Look Loy in an interview with Newsday yesterday.
In declaring Cooper as coach, John-Williams allegedly did not recognise votes from Julia Baptiste, Collin Partap and Sharon Warrick because they are provisional heads of their respective arms of the TTFA.
And with Salazar's resignation, that left only eight voters: John-Williams, Ewing Davis, Look Loy, Quan Chan, Joseph Taylor, Karanjabari Williams, Wayne Cunningham and Anthony Moore.
"Williams, Taylor and I declined approval and joined with Baptiste, Partap and Warrick in calling for a board meeting under article 35."
Newsday was unable to reach John-Williams by telephone yesterday. However, he responded to an email sent to him requesting information on the voting process. Among the questions he was asked was: "Did you include Ms. Salazar in the votes to appoint Mr Cooper? If not, who did the remaining 'yes' vote come from?"
John-Williams was also asked a number of other questions including whether or not he instructed Mr Latapy-George to delay giving the board notice of Salazar's resignation, and why aren't board meetings held with the frequency stipulated in the TTFA constitution?
He responded: "Dear Sir, I can confirm that Ms Salazar was not part of the voting process and was not one of the five persons supporting Mr Cooper appointment. Regards."
John-Williams was subsequently asked to name the five members who voted in favour of Cooper's appointment but there was no further response to the email by press time.
Apart from John-Williams, Newsday also made several attempts to reach Quan Chan to ascertain the members who voted in the selection process.
Latapy-George, in a response to Newsday about remaining silent about Salazar's resignation, stressed that he was just following instructions and protocol. He said, "My position was articulated to the president on a few occasions and I remain guided by the instructions received. Per Ms Salazar's notice now shared with the Board of Directors, I have since advised the Board of my efforts and will be guided by their instructions noting that the recognised structures of authority, in ascending order is the president, the Board of Directors and the general membership. I also remain beholden to the authority structures of the FA while seeking to achieve a progressive balance building a working relationship within and among each level of same."
The issue of poor and sometimes no communication in the TTFA continues to be a problem and reared its ugly head just last week when women's team manager Jinelle James was accused by TTFA brass of not making any request for a pre-tournament camp prior to national footballers begging on social media for help internationally to host one in the US. James subsequently provided email evidence where she did call for a camp but no response was forthcoming from the TTFA president or general secretary. She was also reprimanded for approaching the Ministry of Sport without permission to request funding for the CONCACAF Women's Championship. She revealed, however, she did have a conversation with Latapy-George on the topic and was given clearance to proceed. Her initiative bore fruit as the Sports Ministry has funded the team over $400,000.
HARFORD: WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
"Why didn't he reveal that Joanne had resigned?" This, according to Northern Football Association president Anthony Harford, is the question John-Williams needs to answer.
"Why did he (allegedly) ask Justin Latapy-George to say nothing? Why was that done? Standard protocol is that if a vice-president resigns, that ought to be news to the membership of football. A week or more later, you take this vote and now it is emerging that she may very well have been included but you have no way of knowing," Harford said in an interview with Newsday yesterday.
He shared his view on John-Williams' response that Salazar was not included in the vote.
"David is saying no because, of course, David has to get himself out of a hole, and we can't prove it. I cannot point my finger and say David definitely did not include or did include Joanne. None of us know. But David's track record is not a good one.
"North Zone is not sure of David," he added, "because David has breached integrity so many times in the past in his dealings with the board that we are not certain that he will now tell the truth."
Harford said he hopes Cooper's selection will be ratified at the next board meeting which will take place within the coming days with or without the presence of the president as stipulated in the constitution.
"Now, the thing is, David has been sharing this view that people are against Shawn Cooper. No one is against Shawn Cooper, you know. What we are saying, is David should have called a meeting. The head of the technical committee should have said, 'the technical committee has decided that the preferred candidate is Shawn Cooper.' But no one knows who the other candidates were. They have not told us who the candidates are."
Former national goalkeeper and ESPN analyst Shaka Hislop, who has over 71,000 followers on Twitter, shared his frustration with the newest debacle to affect TT football.
He tweeted the following: "On the face of this story, we – our football – have gone from plain ridiculous, to int’l embarrassment...in a week...I accept only one side of these stories is being told. I await the TTFA President’s response."