WAYNE Sheppard, assistant coach of the TT men’s Under-15 football team, wants good sense to prevail as technical staff members of the various men’s and women’s squads are yet to be paid by the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee.
Sheppard and fellow members of the Coaches Steering Committee (Clayton Morris, Angus Eve, Richard Hood and Jefferson George), issued a letter to the United TTFA head, former TTFA (TT Football Association) president William Wallace on Monday.
In August, the coaches met with the normalisation committee and were promised that their outstanding salaries would be dealt with. The coaches were appointed to the various national teams by the TTFA between December 2019 and February 2020.
The letter, which was released to the media, said, “In previous newspaper articles and interviews, you and other members of the United TTFA have indicated that you were not opposed to the office staff and coaches being paid by FIFA or Concacaf and would not interfere or act in any manner to negatively affect the payment of staff.”
The letter continued, “On Saturday 26th September, however, we were informed by the normalisation committee that FIFA is unwilling to make these payments because of the reinstated court action by the United TTFA.”
The United TTFA, on Friday, resumed their court matter against FIFA, regarding FIFA’s decision to suspend TT from international matches and competition, based on the United TTFA’s late response to withdraw their legal action from the local High Court.
“We, the national staff members, would appreciate hearing from you how you can assist us with regard to our remuneration in the existing circumstances,” the letter ended.
Sheppard said on Monday, “I have said from the beginning that we’re confident we would be paid. The key part was coming to some sort of agreement with the normalisation committee, which we did. Mr Wallace and the United TTFA has said that they wouldn’t stand in the way of us getting paid, and now is the time to honour those words.”
Sheppard continued, “People have been without salaries, without pay for the better part of (a) year. So that means there are households who are suffering, which is only exacerbated by the pandemic. We can’t go out and work otherwise. The sooner it ends, the better. I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m hoping to get an answer from (United TTFA) that stays true to their word and allows this process to come to an end. Not just the coaches but the players are in the same boat as well. A lot of people are forgetting the players, especially the players who are here in (TT) who can’t play any football as well. We’re hoping for them, as well as us, that the end of this struggle is near.”
Wallace, on the other hand, thinks that the normalisation committee is using this latest legal move by the United TTFA as a reason to avoid paying the TT technical staff.
“It is passing strange that the court action is now being blamed for not paying the coaches when the court action has been there for quite a long time,” said Wallace. “As far as I know, the head of the normalisation committee (Robert Hadad) met with the coaches and promised payment. It is strange that they have now gone back to saying that the matter being in court is what’s stopping the coaches from being paid. Any monies that comes from FIFA goes to the normalisation committee.”
Wallace added, “The court matter can’t stop anything from coming to the normalisation committee. Why are they blaming the court matter? If the monies (are) coming from FIFA, the monies to pay the office staff, then what is the difference? I’m not sure, I’m confused.”
According to Wallace, “This is more than an excuse. Everything is being used to put pressure on us to act in a particular way. We expect that and, given that the matter is still in the court, and given that probably the court matter is two weeks away, we expect there will be sustained pressure between now and then. But that’s okay. We are standing firm at this point in time.”