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Sunday 26 May 2019
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Corneal cries foul again

Look Loy calls for FIFA intervention as…

TTFA president David John-Williams, right, with then-FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino at the TTFA office in Couva in 2016. Infantino went on to become FIFA boss.
TTFA president David John-Williams, right, with then-FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino at the TTFA office in Couva in 2016. Infantino went on to become FIFA boss.

ANTON CORNEAL has decided to down tools and withhold his services as technical director of the TT Football Association (TTFA), until his outstanding salary is paid.

This move is another stain on the beleaguered TTFA and its president David John-Williams, whom Corneal has accused of disrespectful and inhumane treatment.

TTFA board member Keith Look Loy yesterday issued a call to FIFA to intervene, since the technical director is a crucial component in any member association.

Corneal, the former national midfielder and youth team coach, wrote to the TTFA yesterday saying his financial burdens were too much to bear and he needed to take a stand in order to get the salary owed since July 2018.

This is not the first time that the 54-year-old Corneal has been at loggerheads with the TTFA over unpaid salaries. He was appointed technical director by then president Lennox Watson in January 2012, but stepped down in April 2014, when Raymond Tim Kee was at the helm. Months later, Corneal took legal action against the local governing body to get his outstanding salary, estimated at $3 million.

On August 9, 2017, he was rehired as TTFA technical director by John-Williams for two years with an option to extend.

At the time Corneal, son of football great Alvin Corneal, said, “We came up with a long-term agreement to pay me off on a contractual basis. The courts would have done nearly the same thing, so this is a better way.”

Corneal also revealed TTFA has not paid his arrears from his previous tenure since December 2017.

In his e-mail to the TTFA, Corneal said, “I have been promised salary payments continuously but to no avail. I had meetings with the president and the general secretary (Justin Latapy-George) indicating the inconvenience of not being paid, and the toll it is taking on my life.

“In September 2018, I explained to the president, I am having to borrow a vehicle to perform my duties and on two occasions having a rent a vehicle to transport FIFA and CONCACAF officials.

“I am tired of the disrespect and inhumane manner in which I have been treated by the (TTFA) president.”

John-Williams, whose primary focus of late is the controversial Home of Football project in Couva, has remained silent in the face of criticism of his leadership style by board members, coaches (notably TT youth team’s Russell Latapy), men and women players and the US Embassy's chargé d’affaires John McIntyre.

Corneal wrote, “In December I wrote to the president again, asking him to use his office to pay me during the festive season – again totally ignored, not even an acknowledgement of the mail.”

On January 5, Corneal said he was called to a meeting with John-Williams, vice-president Ewing Davis and chairman of the technical committee Richard Quan Chan and told his salary would be paid at the end of next month.

But the TTFA would “not be paying the agreed payments to my arrears and/or any arrangement concerning transportation, which is clearly stated in my contractual agreement with (the) TTFA.”

He said his financial constraints have affected both his health and his family life, and he may have to look for other sources of income.

Corneal continued, “I have seen the development of football suffer in our country, coaches working in our programmes disenchanted by the way they are treated by the (TTFA).”

Contacted yesterday, he would only say that his decision to withhold his services would take immediate effect.

Several calls to John-Williams’ phone went unanswered yesterday, Latapy-George declined comment, as he alluded to his current situation with the TTFA. Latapy-George, brother of ex-TT captain Russell, has been working on a month-to-month contract since his term expired on November 30.

The outspoken Look Loy, a fierce critic of John-Williams’ leadership style, said, “I believe that it is time for FIFA to intervene in the TTFA. The technical-director position is one that is mandated by FIFA regulations and one that FIFA sets aside money for national associations to pay someone to fill the post and perform their duties.

“While the grass is growing, the horse is starving. We have (funds) coming in, by way of FIFA subventions, and all (the TTFA) is taking about is Home of Football, while football is collapsing all around our ears. The worst is yet to come where this presidency is concerned.”

Look Loy, the president of the TT Super League, said, “This is further evidence of the validity of the motion to dismiss John-Williams that was submitted by my club, FC Santa Rosa, to the 2018 annual general meeting.

“In the week after that motion was not passed, we had the futsal (team) winning their judgement against the TTFA and the men’s team saying that they’re not going to be playing because they’ve not been paid.”

Look Loy called for an urgent board meeting to discuss the respective positions of Corneal, Latapy-George and TT men’s coach Dennis Lawrence, whose contract is set to end on January 30.

Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe yesterday said her ministry could not get involved, as national sporting bodies are all autonomous.

She said, “I know there have been some challenges within the TTFA. They had some long-standing bills (and salaries) that they would have incurred over the years. We (will) provide assistance as it relates to development programmes. We are yet to receive a proposal or a request from TTFA as it relates to assisting or paying coaches, or their programmes.”

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