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Wednesday 24 July 2019
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TTFA DEBT SOLUTION

In this Aug 19,2018 file photo,TTFA president David John-Williams, right, discusses the progress at the Home of Football site, in Balmain, Couva with Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, centre, and FIFA director of Member Associations and Development for the Caribbeand and Africa Veron Mosengo-Omba. PHOTO COURTESY THE MINISTRY OF SPORT AND YOUTH AFFAIRS
In this Aug 19,2018 file photo,TTFA president David John-Williams, right, discusses the progress at the Home of Football site, in Balmain, Couva with Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Shamfa Cudjoe, centre, and FIFA director of Member Associations and Development for the Caribbeand and Africa Veron Mosengo-Omba. PHOTO COURTESY THE MINISTRY OF SPORT AND YOUTH AFFAIRS

OFFICIALS from Fifa and Concacaf yesterday called a meeting with the TT Football Association (TTFA) board of directors, asking them for a solution to deal with the association’s debt crisis.

Only two board members were absent for the meeting with Fifa and Concacaf representatives.

The visiting delegation included development director for Africa and the Caribbean region, Veron Mosengo-Omba, Concacaf director of Caribbean football, Horace Reid, Concacaf project director, Howard McIntosh and chief financial and administration officer Alejandro Lesende.

Newsday obtained a copy of a report of the meeting in which the officials asked the board to offer proposals to deal with the mounting debt haunting the organisation.

Board member Keith Look Loy, who took the association to court because of TTFA David John-Williams’ refusal to grant him access to contracts and other documents related to the Home of Football Couva-based project, said he told the delegation that since John-Williams’ election, the TTFA has never discussed its debt issues in a board meeting.

The point was supported by Joseph Taylor, head of the TT Football Referees’ Association, and a long-time board member.

A proposal was subsequently put forward by Veteran Footballers Foundation (VFOTT) president Selby Browne, who suggested a loan be sought to pay off the debt.

In an interview following the meeting, Look Loy said the solution was, “pie in the sky, because you need to have property or something to put up as security for a loan.”

The Home of Football cannot be mortgaged, as clarified by Mosengo-Omba, nor can the TTFA use funds from the Fifa Forward programme to satisfy debts, as both are prohibited by Fifa.

“I asked them if Fifa and/or Concacaf can give us a loan. The answer as I understand it is no.

“So they are asking us for a solution for something that we have not discussed,” Look Loy said.

One Concacaf official admitted John-Williams and newly-appointed general secretary Camara David submitted a proposal to clear the debt, which came to the annoyance of some board members.

“I said this is the problem that we are faced with. That proposal is not a proposal from the board of the TTFA. The board of the TTFA should be discussing that and then making a proposal if we chose to do so to Fifa.

“What I said last is that the debt crisis in the TTFA is not the problem, because the debt crisis is merely a manifestation of a wider problem which is the lack of leadership and poor management style, which does not bring people into discussion both inside and outside the TTFA...That under the John-Williams administration, the TTFA has collapsed. The committees...national team programmes collapsed, we have no technical department, we have no women’s football, we have sponsored programmes with which people still can’t be paid, and of course we had the elephant in the room – the Home of Football – and I recounted to them that I had go to court (for access to information) and all of that.”

He said the Fifa representative responded, saying it cannot get involved in TTFA affairs and from Fifa’s standpoint, the expenditure of its funds is their primary concern.

“I said that is not the point. The accounting might be good on Fifa side, but from the TTFA side, nobody has ever given approval for a contract and we don’t know how the money has been spent, who received it, and that is our issue.”

Look Loy said he offered a three-part proposal.

“One, David John-Williams and Ewing Davis (vice president) must resign immediately; just like Joanne Salazar and Anthony Warner (former vice presidents), they need to go too.”

They need to resign, Look Loy said, in order for the football body to “talk to creditors, who say they will talk, but not to them (president and vice-president).”

“Secondly, we have a board meeting scheduled for next Wednesday and that meeting should appoint an interim president and call an election within 60 days, according to the constitution; and thirdly, that meeting should order a forensic audit of all TTFA finances, and specifically the finances of the Home of Football and the income generation project,” a proposal supported by Central Football Association’s Colin Partap, Northern Football Association’s Rayshawn Mars and Women’s League representative Sharon Warrick.

Look Loy said the meeting ended “without a clear path forward other than the promise of a discussion of this matter at the FIFA and Concacaf levels.”

The debt crisis is expected to reach a practically insurmountable point if former general secretary is awarded a substantial judgement for damages resulting from a lawsuit he filed for wrongful dismissal.

The case is expected to close late April.

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