MINISTER of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe echoed the sentiments of the Prime Minister that the United TT Football Association (TTFA) had won the battle against FIFA, but will lose the war in the end as the country’s footballers will suffer.
Cudjoe, who has criticised the United TTFA’s battle against world football body FIFA, told Newsday on Thursday that she agreed with Dr Rowley’s comments.
On Tuesday, Justice Carol Gobin’s ruling said FIFA’s decision to appoint a normalisation committee to run local football was “illegal”.
On March 17, FIFA removed the TTFA executive led by William Wallace and appointed the normalisation committee mainly because of the TTFA’s $50 million debt.
Wallace and his executive were only in power since November 24, 2019 and inherited most of the debt.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday at 1.18 am, Rowley said, “Success that comes at such a high price and at other people’s expense sometimes results in the price of the 'victory' proving too costly to have been worth it. In that case, what happens when the powerful King wins the battle but the thousands of subjects lose."
Rowley said that the country’s footballers will only be allowed to match their skills against each other.
"So now United TTFA has 'won' and FIFA has lost. The matter is settled in local court. We are now free of the 'colonial' FIFA. We, boys and girls, men and women, are free to play by ourselves and against ourselves because nobody will be allowed to play with or against us. Oh. That’s it! I finally understand it. That means we can never lose and will always win because we will only be playing by ourselves. Brilliant!"
Cudjoe said, “I think it is the same thing that I had been warning TTFA about since earlier this year. When I called the meeting on August 27 to meet with the different clubs it was to find out what is really their (United TTFA) plan and the way forward in this matter (and) if they really want to go down this road. It was pretty much warning them against winning the battle and losing the war.”
At the August 27 meeting the Sport Ministry invited local football stakeholders to discuss the way forward for TT football.
It was reported that Wallace and the former executive did not attend.
Cudjoe said the footballing community will feel the pain. “So you (United TTFA) have won the battle and the young people in TT, the players, the whole football fraternity, even the fans now have to suffer based on the actions of a handful.”
She added, “It is just unfortunate, another sad day for TT and I agree 100 per cent with what Prime Minister would have said.”
In her ruling, Gobin said the Sport Minister’s intervention could have legal “implications”.
Gobin said, “I am not prepared to ascribe improper motives to the honourable minister for her intervention to 'find a way forward' nor indeed to the delegates who requested the EGM (extraordinary general meeting). These were concerned parties who would not have been cognisant of the negative legal implications of their actions, which I do believe were well-intended.”
Cudjoe said she was not trying to impede the judicial process from unfolding.
“TTFA would have asked her to rule on the fact that I would have called a meeting of the membership to determine the way forward. She said that she cannot fault me for that. At the end of the day the judiciary has its work to do and the executive has its work to do. Justice Gobin has her work to do and I have mine. I don’t get in the way of her work…my reason for calling the meeting is I stand in defence of the young players, the people who are going to be affected by this.”
The United TTFA plans to have an EGM (Emergency General Meeting) with the TTFA membership by October 25 to continue charting a way forward.
Cudjoe is hoping the TTFA members get to air their concerns.
“I hope that in (the EGM), his membership have the opportunity to stand up and really have their voices heard and they try to redeem this thing in whatever way it could possibly be redeemed and do what is best in the best interest of football.”