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The Home of Football hotel in Couva.

Keith Clement and

Mark Bassant

The controversial Home of Football, which was deemed unusable by former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association president William Wallace back in November, is now one of the venues Government is considering for use as a step-down facility in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) following a visit yesterday.

Minister of National Security Stuart Young led a party of officials from the Ministries of Health, National Security, Fire Services and FIFA Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad on a tour of the facility.

Guardian Media confirmed this with Hadad late yesterday and he revealed it was an option being considered for a while.

“They (Government) have been speaking to us and I suggest you speak with either Minister Young or Deyalsingh for an update. They have to decide what they want to do,” Hadad said during a telephone conversation without revealing anything further.

However, sources told Guardian Media the touring team spent a considerable amount of time at the facility.

“We are not sure what is going to happen at this point, but I know they are trying to get the necessary approvals,” a source familiar with the tour explained.

The source added that there were other venues being considered for step-down facilities by the Ministry of Health. Before the TTFA facility can be given the green light to house recovering COVID patients, it will have to meet the necessary requirements, the source added.

Last November, then newly-elected TTFA president Wallace had said the multi-million dollar facility was not fit for operations.

Wallace told Guardian Media then, “There are two things. There are no Fire Service approvals and of course if it’s a place for the public you need liability insurance, which you get when the building is completed. The building is not completed, there are still things to be done.”

On November 18 last year, the TTFA held a gala opening ceremony for the hotel which was attended by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and FIFA president Gianni Infantino and other dignitaries. However, two days after being elected as president of the TTFA, Wallace closed down the facility saying it was uninsured and not certified by the Fire Service.

The Home of Football is a 72-room hotel which cost the TTFA an estimated TT$16.85 million and sits on a 17.5-acre parcel of land leased to the association by the Government. However, the issues surrounding the closure of the facility were said to be at the heart of FIFA removing Wallace and his three vice presidents, Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip, from office on March 17 and replacing them with the Hadeed-led Normalisation Committee. Wallace and his team are now challenging FIFA’s decision at the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Rowley toured the National Racquet Centre, which houses the country’s national tennis facility, along with Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and declared it a step-down facility in the Government’s fight against the novel coronavirus. The Tacarigua facility will have a 50-bed capacity. There is also a step-down facility at Brooklyn Settlement, Sangre Grande.