FIFA’s latest football rankings published this week listed the Caribbean powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago at 105th in the world, their second-lowest in history.

A Normalization Committee appointed by FIFA is charged with sorting out dire financial and administrative affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA) but will the virus that has seen the regional giants plummet to their lowest levels all-time be tackled as well in this process?

The eight-time Caribbean Football Union (CFU) champions have now spent a 10th consecutive month outside the world’s top-100.

The last time T&T’s Soca Warriors were the top-rated Caribbean team on the FIFA Coca-Cola Rankings was October 2016. From 65th in the world three and a half years ago, they have steadily plunged to embarrassing levels, not good enough for a football programme that had long been regarded as the best in the Caribbean.

Absorbed in a political football power war in the past year that included acrimonious election campaigning and subsequent unseating of David John-Williams (DJW) as President, T&T’s football results have been ghastly.

The Coronavirus has dismantled all sporting schedules globally and maybe it’s a good thing for T&T’s football since the inactivity may have eased their fans from some more painful match results.

Former England international and 1986 World Cup defender Terry Fenwick is the new head coach, replacing Dennis Lawrence and the straight-talking ex-defender’s job is likely to be negatively impacted by the current administrative turmoil.

Indeed, there are already media reports of heated exchanges Fenwick has had with the Technical team over dissatisfaction with efforts to sort out passports for foreign-born players being targeted for T&T representation.

T&T’s football fraternity is divided over FIFA’s intervention that sidelined last November’s elected executive, whose attorneys Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne have now gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in an effort to annul FIFA’s intervention.

FIFA’s track record globally clearly indicates they are powerful enough and have the right to intervene in any of its 211 affiliates’ administrative affairs if they are deemed not to be following the FIFA Statutes -- rules and regulations – that they themselves have signed to.

Opponents of the FIFA intervention in T&T reason that it was indecently done, given the fact the new executive had only been in place for three months, trying to tackle massive financial problems that were largely inherited.

The fact that serious financial problems existed when John-Williams was boss and FIFA did not intervene, begs the question why didn’t they at the time? The answer is fairly obvious. John-Williams has a good relationship with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and profited from FIFA’s support and understanding.

Days ahead of the November 24, 2019 TTFA elections, Infantino attended the glitzy opening of John-Williams’s biggest project, the “Home of Football” in Couva and he praised DJW as a leader displaying “wisdom and vision” with the project the FIFA President said represented “an investment in the future”.

Unruffled that T&T were just coming off setting all-time records for longest losing streak, winless streak and run of games without scoring, Infantino downplayed results in a SportsMax interview with George Davis, declaring firmly that when there is a heavy investment in stability with an eye for future development it was wrong to make a “sporting result (loss)” become a “tragedy” or a “catastrophe”.

Asserting obvious support for DJW’s team ahead of the TTFA Elections, Infantino defended the Home of Football investment as a building tool for the country’s football. “You need to build, you need to be stable … and that’s exactly what has been done and then the results will come because of the seriousness of the investment. We have now a solid foundation in this so that football can grow and be built and I am sure this will happen in the future with John-Williams,” Infantino said.

Infantino’s “future with John-Williams” narrative was ruined by DJW’s 26-20 loss to William Wallace’s men at the TTFA polls and I suspect that as far as FIFA is concerned, the wrong men are in charge.

A FIFA/CONCACAF audited study of the TTFA’s Finances in February apparently triggered the move to step in and remove the elected officials even though General Secretary Ramesh Ramdhan had reported to local media then that the mission was favourable and that FIFA were on their side.  

Leadership of major sporting organisations has long been about politics and power and football presidency at the global and confederation levels perfectly illustrate this.

I attended a few Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress sessions that were open to the media during Jack Warner’s reign and saw the God-like sway he held over his subjects as a FIFA Vice-President and the CONCACAF Chief.

With that power, also came freedom to make unobstructed decisions, especially in a FIFA culture fashioned by Joao Havelange that while financially flourishing always had integrity question marks.

Brazilian Havelange, widely considered Warner’s mentor, enjoyed a 24-year reign -- before Sepp Blatter took over in 1998 – that boasted exponential football growth while never entertaining opposition. History shows you don’t fight FIFA and win so the odds are heavily against the relegated TTFA executive challenging this move by FIFA.

In the meantime, T&T’s football fans deserve more from their national team. Their October 2010 ranking of 106th in a brief sojourn outside FIFA’s top-100 almost 10 years ago, is the only ever weaker ranking position than they have now. Heading for a whole year outside FIFA’s top-100 as they are now, is unheard of in T&T’s glamorous football history.

How and when will the turnaround happen? Fenwick did not make it as a manager in his native England, but has had success in T&T, copping Pro League titles with Central FC (twice) and San Juan Jabloteh. He knows the T&T landscape well enough but appears short on the kind of talent that has propelled T&T’s International programme in the past.

Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad, Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano along with the yet-to-be-named others on a five-member panel will have a tough job resuscitating T&T’s football, especially in this contentious climate fraught with bitterness and legal dispute.

Former England defender, coach of Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh in the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Pro League, Terry Fenwick, has been named the head coach of the twin-island republic’s senior football team, the Soca Warriors.

Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president and Port of Spain Mayor, Raymond Tim Kee is dead.

The 71-year-old Tim Kee, passed on Sunday at his Flagstaff home after a long ailment, leaving the football fraternity in mourning.

TTFA President William Wallace issued condolences to the family, saying he had lost, not just a colleague in football, but a friend.

“He was a good human being who cared for his fellow men. As an administrator, he never micromanaged but instead allowed guided initiative. He had the game at heart and was one of those persons who hurt over the last couple years,” said Wallace in an interview with T&T website Wired868.

Wallace was the National Senior Team manager during Tim Kee’s term in office.

“I salute the memory of an exceptional man who I knew as a voice of reason. My heartfelt sympathy condolences to his entire family,” he said.

Wallace’s comments were made on the back of a TTFA statement, which also issued condolences, remembering Tim Kee as a kind-hearted man, ‘devoted and committed to serving his country the best way he could.’

Tim Kee took over presidency of the TTFA in 2012 after Jack Warner was forced to resign amidst a US investigation into corruption within FIFA that implicated him.

Tim Kee’s presidency saw a resurgence of the Soca Warriors but also an increasingly troubling financial situation. Constant squabbles with his board over those financial issues led to his eventual ousting in 2015 by recently deposed president, David John-Williams.

Trinidad and Tobago Super League president, Keith Look Loy, as well as Strike Squad captain Clayton Morris have also expressed their condolences.   

 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.”

William Wallace is the new president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) after he unseated controversial former boss, David John-Williams in an election at the weekend. The question is, what next?

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