Sport and Youth Affairs Minister Shamfa Cudjoe wants to see an end to the constant bickering between the sidelined William Wallace-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and a FIFA-appointed normalisation committee led by local businessman Robert Hadad.
“I’m hoping in due time, or in quick time, that good sense prevails,” Minister Cudjoe said in a recent television interview.
Bypassed by FIFA, Wallace and his executive are fighting their demotion through the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but have also refused to hand over power to the Hadad-led body which FIFA appointed as their replacement for the next two years. However, the minister is hoping for co-operation between the parties in the interest of the sport and footballers.
“And everybody could come to the table and speak with a face of positivity, unity and moving forward in the best interest of the sport,” she said.
With US$1.25m in FIFA funding immediately due to T&T, the latest power struggle is a battle for control of the Association’s bank accounts.
FIFA will send the money only to the normalisation committee, but it needs access to the accounts. Wallace, a signatory to the account at First Citizens Bank, is battling to keep financial power through his attorneys. With the two parties claiming legitimacy, First Citizens has opted to deny access to both until the matter is legally or mutually resolved.
With the parties battling, the fall-out is affecting 15 or so members of the TTFA’s administrative staff, who have not been paid since February, when general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan took a loan to pay them. Technical staff of nationals teams have also not received salary for six months. This prompted an unsigned letter from at least one staff member begging Wallace to take the humanitarian view of their plight.
Cudjoe’s opinion is that FIFA is here to help T&T and she has urged cooperation between the two sides. The Association has built up $50 million-plus in debt and owes several creditors. The local body is also facing litigation in a number of cases.
“I think FIFA, the people through Mr Hadad and the committee that FIFA had established, have come to assist, and I think that those who are in position to assist, should jump on board and assist,” Cudjoe said.
Cudjoe said it was no secret that T&T football is in peril.
“Football in Trinidad and Tobago has been in trouble for quite some time,” she said.
“So if the parent body (FIFA) has stepped in with intention to restore football, to straighten things out, and to assist in coming up with a plan to get TTFA out of debt, then I think everybody who cares about football, and cares about the sport, the athletes, the footballers and so on, will get on board,” the minister added.