Minister Cudjoe to TTFA membership “your action or inaction can shatter dreams of TT youth”

Sport and Community Development Minister the Hon. Shamfa Cudjoe, called and hosted an emergency virtual meeting of all major stakeholders of football from 3:30pm on Thursday August 27, 2020, to clearly articulate the Government’s expressed concern on implications of this debacle between the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and  the Federal Internationale of Football Association (FIFA). Thirty nine (39) persons representing various clubs and interests attended the meeting representing a wide spectrum of stakeholders and membership of the TTFA.  The invitation was also extended to all members of the TTFA Executive including TTFA President William Wallace, however, neither he nor the other executive members attended.

Following the decision taken and subsequent communication by FIFA, by letter dated August 26, 2020 to Mr. Robert Hadad, Chairman of the Normalization Committee of the TTFA, the issue of the future development of football and the loss of return on years of investment in the sport is under severe threat. In its letter, FIFA clearly outlined its position on the claim between TTFA and FIFA at the Trinidad and Tobago Courts and drew attention to art. 59 of the FIFA Statue, which expressly contains the prohibition of recourse to ordinary courts unless specifically provided for.  In the letter FIFA underlined that the failure to meet these obligations may, according to art. 14, paragraph 4, of the FIFA Statutes, “lead to sanctions as provided for in the FIFA Statutes, including a possible suspension.” Such sanctions can and will have a devastating impact on football in Trinidad and Tobago.

Minister Cudjoe invited Chairman of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Douglas Camacho, to share his understanding and interpretation of the implications of a decision of suspension by FIFA, the most critical of which would be on our athletes and our youth.  A decision to suspend TT’s membership will mean,

  • Youth National teams to Senior National teams cannot participate in any international football competition including friendlies
  • Players would not have the opportunity to compete in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers forcing some players into retirement.
  • The marketability of players will be affected with youth National players not being afforded the scouting opportunities at these qualifying matches
  • Youth teams will not be able to travel to compete in sanctioned club tournaments outside of Trinidad and Tobago i.e. Dallas Cup.
  • Scholarship opportunities will also be impacted as players who play at the CONCACAF U-17/U-20 tournaments are positioned to have top college recruiters watching those
  • Loss of investment from private sector
  • TTFA continued indebtedness

In addition, local clubs will not be allowed to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League, no opportunity for referee appointments, match commissioner appointments at any international tournament and Trinidad and Tobago will not have access to development programmes from FIFA, CONCACAF, CFU. or any confederation or Member Association i.e. Dutch, English etc. Trinidad and Tobago would also face the reality that its FIFA rankings will be severely impacted.

The floor was opened to the members present to share their views on the situation. All who spoke shared their concerns about the situation, indicating that the actions taken by the four individuals of the united TTFA were without the support of the membership and that they were not approached for their position before these legal proceedings began. They expressed that this situation had to be looked at from the athlete’s position and it was their duty to support the FIFA Normalization Committee and the sustained development of the sport sector.

Sport Minister, called on the members to “take action and let good sense prevail in the matter.” She reminded them “about the work and investment that the Government has and continues to make in football and the campaign for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the opportunities that will be lost for economic expansion through sport tourism and the loss in the potential that sport and in particular football has for addressing the ills in many communities”.

According to Minister Cudjoe, the situation that the TTFA now finds itself, with the appointment of the Normalization Committee, is as a result of years of poor management in football administration, and the continued indebtedness that the Association is now in,  and that what was now required is vision, strategy, financial prudence, sound management and structure. This is the purpose of the Normalization Committee and the FIFA suspension and sanctions will push Trinidad and Tobago’s position back decades to the detriment of all and especially the young ones.

It was also made abundantly clear, that Association’s refusal to speak up and act responsibly to address and resolve this issue will result in severe financial implications for the sport. The Sport Minister said that it will be “ludicrous for the football fraternity to expect the government and hardworking tax payers to bail out TTFA after years of mal management or for the private sector to continue to make investment when there is no clear direction or opportunities for growth and prosperity.” She therefore called on the right thinking stakeholders at the meeting “to step up; your action or inaction can shatter the dreams of our athletes and our youth.”

While it is not the practice of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to dictate the decisions and actions of the autonomous TTFA,   Minister Cudjoe called upon members to understand that the “ball was on their court or in this case on their field and it is their duty and responsibility to be resolute in the position, to be fearless in their action and to play it wisely.”

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago continues to stand in defence of our athletes and the promotion of the welfare of our sporting fraternity. The Ministry of Sport and Community Development remains committed to working with all stakeholders to advance the development of sport and the development of our people through sport.