‘This is an attempted coup’

In this Nov 24,2019 file photo, newly-elected president of the TT Football Association William Wallace speaks with the media after the TTFA’s elections. - Marvin Hamilton
In this Nov 24,2019 file photo, newly-elected president of the TT Football Association William Wallace speaks with the media after the TTFA’s elections. - Marvin Hamilton

FIFA, the global governing body for football, has scrapped the TT Football Association (TTFA) board and decided to appoint a normalisation committee, in accordance with article 8.2 of the FIFA Statutes.

This decision, by the Bureau of the FIFA Council, was announced on the FIFA website, on Tuesday. It means the tenure of president William Wallace, and his deputies Clynt Taylor, Sharon Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip, which began on November 24, 2019 has come to an end.

Wallace and his United TTFA team defeated Team Impactors, led by David John-Williams, 26-20 at the elections, which took place at the Home of Football, Balmain, Couva.

However, Wallace has questioned the move made by FIFA, since his administration has been seeking to erase some of the $50 million debt inherited from the 2015-2019 John-Williams’ regime.

“It’s unfortunate in that we had four years of members of the TT Football Association complaining and many people outside the football fraternity asking what’s happening,” said Wallace. “Having come into office and identified some of the stuff that occurred under the last regime, and no action was taken then.

“It’s little strange that an administration that has come into office in November and this decision has been taken,” Wallace added.

Keith Look Loy, a member of the TTFA board and an influential member of United TTFA during their election campaign, was vocal in his condemnation of FIFA’s act.

“This is, in my view, an attempted coup d’etat by FIFA to remove a democratically elected administration, an administration elected by the will of the football community,” Look Loy said. “They are seeking to overturn that will and acting like a colonial absentee landlord that feels he could do whatever he wants, regardless of what the local people think because their views don’t matter. It is highly disrespectful.”

According to an article on the FIFA website, “The decision follows the recent FIFA/Concacaf fact-finding mission to TT to assess, together with an independent auditor, the financial situation of TTFA.

“The mission found that extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt, have resulted in the TTFA facing a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity. Such a situation is putting at risk the organisation and development of football in the country and corrective measures need to be applied urgently.”

However, Look Loy stressed that FIFA never took such drastic action during the previous TTFA leadership.

“FIFA presided over the mess created by John-Williams and his administration,” said Look Loy. “The debt that we inherited, the $4 million in monies deducted (from office staff) and never paid to the authorities, spending FIFA money on the Home of Football and the (Fire Service) refuse to allow us to open it.

“(FIFA) came and celebrated with him. The TTFA electorate rejected John-Williams. They want to hold a new administration, that has done nothing wrong, responsible for the sins of John-Williams’ administration. It is objectionable, unreasonable and unacceptable, and we’re not going to be taking it lying down.”

Wallace admitted that he was yet to be officially informed by FIFA about their decision.

“I got the same news that you got, via the same way that you got it,” he alluded. “I have not gotten anything official from FIFA as yet, neither my secretary (Ramesh Ramdhan).”

Look Loy added, “I understand, up to now, when I spoke to them about 15 minutes (before the interview) that FIFA has informed neither the president nor the general secretary of this move officially. That summarises the disrespect, that they feel they could sit afar and just dictate to us. People, including myself, repeatedly pointed out to FIFA officials that there was mismanagement. Their attitude was hands off and it was TTFA’s business, but suddenly it is their business.”

Wallace recently said the fact-finding mission was a positive one. However, he did not want to be drawn into speculation that this move was indirectly linked to John-Williams’ close ties with FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

“I wouldn’t want to aggravate anything at this point, I would want to hold (back) on those statements. I don’t want to go down this road at this point.”

Look Loy opined, “(Team Impactors) have been trying to find every little opening to attack, and they’re being encouraged by high football authorities (as well as) the international and local media.”

The mandate of the normalisation committee includes – running the TTFA’s daily affairs; establishing a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA; reviewing and amending the TTFA statutes; organising and conducting elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate.

The normalisation committee will comprise an adequate number of members to be identified by the FIFA administration, in consultation with Concacaf. In line with the FIFA Governance Regulations, all members of the normalisation committee will be subject to an eligibility check.

The normalisation committee will act as an electoral committee, and none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions in the TTFA elections under any circumstances.

The specified period of time during which the normalisation committee will perform its functions will expire as soon as it has fulfilled all of its assigned tasks, but no later than 24 months after its members have been officially appointed by FIFA.

Asked if he will be looking to appeal FIFA’s decision to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), Wallace replied, “It is new territory for me, we need to get some information on that.”


"‘This is an attempted coup’"

More in this section