Local football has been mismanaged for decades and the financial woes of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) did not start under the David John-Williams administration. The current association members also no longer support the United TTFA executive led by William Wallace.
This was the view expressed by former national defender and Sports Minister Brent Sancho yesterday.
Speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew, Sancho said FIFA should have appointed a normalisation committee nearly three decades ago to stop the financial improprieties of the then TTFA executive.
“Every president that has come into power has fallen short when it comes to transparency and accountability, and hence the reason why the association is saddled with close to a $100 million in debt,” Sancho told host Natalee Legore.
Sancho’s comment came even as FIFA was meeting at its 70th Congress yesterday. Many were expecting the TTFA to face sanction during the event due to the United TTFA’s court action against FIFA in the local court. However, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said yesterday the matter was not on the agenda and it was not dealt with then.
Hours after the congress, however, FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura sent a letter to FIFA Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad advising that they were giving Wallace’s team a new deadline of September 23 to withdraw the legal action against FIFA. Barring this, Samoura said the relevant FIFA bodies will meet to decide on the suspension of the TTFA.
Sancho told Legore that the structures that should have been in place at the executive level of the association were not and over the years, successive presidents had been voted out of office because of it.
He said despite their campaign promises ahead of last November’s AGM, even the recently-elected Wallace administration was no different.
“We brought in the William Wallace administration to the floor because the membership felt that the platform that they placed, that they campaigned on, which was transparency, accountability, was the right one for us and of course we saw in the first four months of their operation where they would have ran up a debt of approximately $15 million, that they too were culpable in the culture that has destroyed football for so many years,” Sancho said.
He said the Normalisation Committee headed by Hadad was put in place to ensure the TTFA’s debts were paid and the decision by Wallace to challenge those appointments in the court does not reflect the views of the association’s membership.
“From a membership point of view in the TTFA, they feel as if we are being hijacked and kidnapped into this scenario – that the leadership of the TTFA has not shown the view of the membership. The mere fact is that four to five individuals are making decisions on behalf of not just the membership but T&T,” Sancho said.
Sancho said it was also “absolutely ridiculous” that the association is in so much debt.
“The membership has been let down so many times and it is startling to see that a lot of the administrators have been involved in the sport for 30-plus years,” he said.
“This is not a new behaviour, this is learnt behaviour and a pattern which has taken place for so many years. So many of them who are currently here now were part of FIFA, were part of the TTFA for so many years and continue to exemplify that type of behaviour.”
He said local football is in desperate need of change.
Sancho said if FIFA decides to place any sanctions on T&T, the young generation of footballers are the ones who will suffer the consequences as a suspension can lead to T&T being kicked out of the World Cup cycle.