TTFA must move quickly to address avalanche of financial issues claims former first VP Browne

By Sports Desk November 29, 2019
Newly elected TTFA boss William Wallace. Newly elected TTFA boss William Wallace.

 Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board member Selby Brown has insisted the body must move quickly to address an avalanche of financial issues, which threatens to drag the association into insolvency.

Brown, who previously served as a first vice president under the David John-Williams administration, failed in his bid to get re-elected as second vice president’s position in Sunday’s elections, losing to United TTFA candidate Clynt Taylor.

With the association facing debts in the region of $US 7,108,608, in a large part due to a culmination of several lawsuits, Brown insisted that the new administration must hit the ground running.

“The delegates have spoken and that democracy must be respected, and I wish the United TTFA visionaries well. Most of those who served the previous regimes were the ones who incurred the huge debt of the TTFA of some $TT40 million and celebrated the added two judgments in the amount of $TT8.4 million last week. That does not include a further $TT15 million that Mr. Jack Warner claims is owed to him by the TTFA and confirmed by TTFA President Raymond Tim Kee in a letter dated November 2015,” Browne to insideworldfootball.

The former vice president insisted that as well as the administrative issue, there were issues to solve off the field as well.

“The vote by delegates for the United TTFA is No problem. They all intend to get billions from NIKE. Did they ask themselves the question: Why would a brand associate itself with a team that lost 14 out of 15 games?  What exactly is the benefit to the brand? Unless the United TTFA plans to provide Nike with a new slogan; ‘Wear NIKE and Lose’,” he continued.

“I look forward to the TTFA urgently receiving the promised Nike sponsorship millions to avoid the TTFA from being declared bankrupt or avoiding insolvency.”

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  • BFA treasurer Donovan expects FIFA suspension for TTFA BFA treasurer Donovan expects FIFA suspension for TTFA

    Barbados Football Association (BFA) treasurer Adrian Donovan believes the Trinidad and Tobago FA are on their way to being suspended, considering recent retaliation against the implementation of a FIFA normalisation committee.

    The football world governing body made the decision to disband the TTFA and implement a normalization committee, following what it claims was a fact-finding mission to the twin-island republic.  According to FIFA the TTFA had “extremely low overall financial management methods” and extreme debt.  In doing so FIFA quoted article 8:2 of FIFA’s statutes, which states, "Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time."

    The William Wallace-led association has, however, since threatened to take the matter to the Courts of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) a move that Donovan considers a mistake.

    “I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that the TTFA will be suspended,” Donovan told the Barbados Advocate.

    “In all of this FIFA is absolutely correct if they have to suspend this national federation because all those who signed off on the FIFA Statutes are expected to follow their rules and regulations,” he added.

    “When you sign under FIFA rules and regulation and you have no legitimate evidence as to how you have spent their money, it is only a matter of time before the weight of FIFA would be felt.”

    Since coming to office the William Wallace-led association pointed to mismanagement in the implementation of the Home of Football project, put in place by the previous administration.  The new executive seemed set to put into place another ambitious project at the Arima Stadium.

     

  • Opinion: FIFA article 8.2 promotes bullying Opinion: FIFA article 8.2 promotes bullying

    The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the most powerful sporting body in the world and it should be.

    FIFA is in control of 211 football associations throughout the world, in a sport that is the most popular and profitable on the globe.

    However, the association hasn’t always used that power in the most judicious ways and recently went through a harrowing couple of years with evidence of widespread corruption beating down on its reputation.

    Many bans and jail sentences later, FIFA has tried to change its image with new, progressive bosses with a more inclusive management style.

    But, in truth, FIFA is a fiefdom and that was made very clear in the events in Trinidad and Tobago over the last week.

    The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) board does not exist anymore and its president, scratch that, former president, looks set for a lengthy legal battle to change that.

    I do not want to get into the who is right and who is wrong, even though there are questions FIFA should answer.

    Here are the facts as we know them.

    An arm of FIFA called the Bureau of the FIFA Council investigated the financial affairs of the TTFA, which had just gone through the process of electing a new president in William Wallace just over three months before.

    According to the council’s findings, the TTFA was in bad shape financially, so bad, that it risked the possibility of insolvency if the situation were not arrested.

    Further, the council says it found that there was no plan to assuage the situation, leading it to replace the TTFA’s board with a normalization committee that would be in place for a maximum of two years after which it would hold elections to create a new board with its own mandate.

    On an interim basis, FIFA installed former TTFA Finance Manager Tyril Patrick to oversee the day-to-day activities of the organization before the normalization committee could be properly vetted, organized and begin to work.

    According to FIFA, that normalization committee would be given a mandate to:

    • Run the TTFA’s daily affairs;
    • Establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA;
    • Review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress;
    • Organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate.

     

    But today, the TTFA has no direction as interim boss, Patrick, declined the position after lawyers for Wallace wrote to him, calling his appointment illegal, or at the very least unconstitutional.

    In fact, the former TTFA boss has not taken his ousting lying down and is contemplating taking his grouses to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, pointing out that FIFA has ignored his plans to get the TTFA out of debt and is claiming prejudice against his administration, pointing first up to the timing of the ‘coup d’etat’ and the implications of a friendship with the TTFA’s previous boss, as well as inconsistencies regarding a FIFA-TTFA joint project dubbed ‘The Home of Football’.   

    I won’t look at any of that, however. I am more interested in the entrenched laws that allow FIFA to make a decision of this nature.

    Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, Randy Harris sympathises with the ousted TTFA administration but believes FIFA well within their rights to install a normalization committee.

    Harris is right because of article 8.2 of the FIFA statute.

    Article 8.2 states: ‘Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time’.

    It is here that I have a problem though.

    I suppose, FIFA, as arbiters of the sport, must have in its bylaws, appropriate actions to ensure the continued growth of the sport throughout the world, but I find this article distasteful.

    The article admits that the council is removing an ‘Executive’ body which has been duly elected by administrators of the sport within a country. This means, FIFA is saying it reserves the right to ignore the democracy of an entity when it has a mind to do so.

    I say ‘has a mind’, because it is the council who decides what is an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and in this instance, it very well might be. But the fact that it is FIFA making this judgement, is problematic.

    Each Member Association has elections and it is there that they decide if the fate of their organization can be managed by its leaders. It should certainly not be as easy as it was for FIFA to overturn that decision.

    It means, in essence, if a Member Association does not operate its own affairs just the way FIFA says it should, and each country has a different set of circumstances to deal with that could mean varying ways of operating such affairs, then you could find that you have no say.

    Harris pointed to this fact in a radio interview with Trinidad and Tobago’s i955 FM’s ISports radio, saying “The Trinidad and Tobago FA has found itself in a sad situation which all of us in the Caribbean could be in tomorrow.”

    Therein lies my problem. This particular ‘takeover’ may very well be warranted with the TTFA in debt to the tune of TT$50 million, the question is, who decides this, and how can it be that ‘little’ Member Associations have no say in deciding whether or not they need outside help?

  • Opinion:  Much of TTFA, FIFA fallout still shrouded in confusion and contradiction Opinion: Much of TTFA, FIFA fallout still shrouded in confusion and contradiction

    Even from a distance, it seems impossible not to gawk at the mangled train wreck that has unfolded at the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and not be overcome with a sense of bewilderment.

    In a press conference earlier this month, then newly elected president William Wallace became the latest in a long line of TTFA bosses to firmly plant allegations of widespread corruption at the feet of the previous tenants.  The new head honcho pointed to unpaid statutory deductions, bounced checks, a faulty finance structure as partial contributors to the body accruing a towering $US7,370,990 (TT$50,000,000).  Wallace also pointed to an incomplete Home of Football in Couva, which he claimed was shown to have structural flaws and lacking proper insurance. 

    In the midst of the doom and gloom, Wallace then went on to paint a much rosier outlook for the future of the TTFA, after claiming the newly appointed administration had already taken major steps to alleviate some of the issues.  A settlement had been reached with television commentator Selwyn Melville regarding the issue of who owns the ‘Soca Warriors’ (Now famous nickname of the Trinidad and Tobago Men's Senior team)  and the announcement of an unspecified memorandum of understanding that would clear the debt in ‘two to three years’. The president pointed out that the new body had secured a TT$25-million apparel deal, secured a broadcast and digital rights partner, sealed a domestic sponsor and secured a sponsor for the FA. 

    Good so far, but crucially, Wallace claimed that the work of a pair of accountants posted within his administration’s new internal finance structure satisfied a recent delegation of FIFA and Concacaf officials and that a better relationship could be expected going forward.  The bodies have long been at odds regarding the financial state of the local football body and had delayed its annual subvention.  A little over two weeks later FIFA disbanded the Board of the TTFA and appointed a normalization committee to take over affairs.  What on earth is going on? Nobody has explained to date.

    The timing of FIFA's intervention seems strange, deciding to disband a newly formed executive that seems to not only have implemented structural reform but also pledges for financial support. A perceived sense of chumminess with the former administration, whether real or imagined put this in an even worse light and could be a real black eye for a Gianni Infantino-led organisation, which claims to have taken on the mantle of crusaders against corruption.

    The response of the former TTFA members is, however, also interesting.

    Any claims about a violation of sovereign and democratically elected officials certainly does not fly as when it comes to football the twin-island republic falls directly under the governance of FIFA itself and not the state. In several instances, countries have been suspended from the organisation for violating just that principle. The charter and ordinances that govern all 211 national associations of which T&T are a part, and the particular article that was quoted, gives them the specific right to intervene in the affairs of a member nation.  Normalisation committees are not after all aberrations on the global football landscape with Ghana, Egypt, Pakistan and Namibia among a few of those that have received such ‘assistance’ in recent years. This isn't even the first time this has happened in the Caribbean, with FIFA taking over the Guyana Football Federation and putting in a normalisation committee for a little over a year.

    In other words, Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Randy Harris was right, even if not popular, in pointing out that the appointment of normalisation committees is the prerogative of FIFA and can happen to any of the 211 national associations.  With all members agreeing to and playing under those statues it is difficult to see how it can be argued otherwise.

    Secondly, it’s hard to imagine supporting the argument that a measure put in place to mitigate against damage the TTFA has admitted exists, is unfair, and to do so with the question, 'why now?'. FIFA should perhaps have intervened long ago, but few could argue with firefighters attempting to save any part of a house that has been engulfed in flames for a prolonged period. We would not advocate them letting it burn to the ground. 

    Though they may not be required to, FIFA should, in the interest of the transparency they have long sought, give more details on the specifics of these particular circumstances.

     

     

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