Chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee, business executive Robert Hadad
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Chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee, business executive Robert Hadad
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee, business executive Robert Hadad says it will be a long, arduous process to restore credibility and stability into the organisation and the sport in the two-island republic.
Hadad was speaking on Radio I95.5 FM, after world football's governing body Fifa announced on Thursday that T&T were free to return to international play, following the lifting of a suspension on the TTFA with immediate effect.
The end of the suspension followed the recent decision of the T&T Court of Appeal to reverse the ruling of High Court judge Carol Gobin that Fifa's appointment of the normalisation committee was illegal, null and void, and of no effect.
Recognition of the authority of the normalisation committee by the membership of the TTFA was also another reason Fifa general secretary Fatma Samoura gave for the lifting of the suspension.
Hadad said he and other members of the normalisation committee were relieved that months of legal wrangling was now over, but they were now dealing with the reality of the magnitude of the work ahead of them.
“We are ready to work, but we are very concerned that there is a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.
“There is relief, definitely, because we are very happy that T&T is back into football and we can start playing again. But the work now starts for us. We will surely follow our mandate (from Fifa).”
by TaboolaPromoted Links You May Like Airport Security Couldn't Believe These Jaw-Dropping Moments Noteabley Remember Tiger Wood's Ex-wife? Try Not To Smile When You See Her Now SportPirate Suicide or murder? Jamaica Observer Look Closer, The Photographer Was Not Expecting This Photo Elite Herald Shopkeeper killed in Alps Jamaica Observer The TTFA was suspended this past September, after the executive committee at the time — led by William Wallace — took Fifa to court over its decision to appoint the normalisation committee to temporarily manage the sport in T&T.
Fifa claimed that the TTFA, under Wallace's leadership, “had engaged in various acts of serious mismanagement”.
Hadad said the work to restore credibility in the TTFA was divided into “four main buckets”.
“The first is to get the operations of the TTFA up and running again, getting the committees in place, taking a look at the league in T&T from grassroots to the professional league and what they will look like because it is no secret that some of them are all over the place,” he said
“We also have to get the national teams — male and female at all age groups — up and running again and ensure we have the right staff in place to coach and manage these teams.”
He added: “Another area is the past debt, which is a big area. We have to sit down and put some committees together to deal with that immediately.
“And the fourth area is the corporate governance. Thankfully, we have good support from Concacaf and Fifa, so hopefully we will be able to get all of the governance issues rectified.”
The TTFA suspension had put in jeopardy the Soca Warriors' participation in men's qualifying competitions for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup and 2022 Fifa World Cup.
But Hadad said players had already started train again under the guidance of head coach Terry Fenwick and he expected things to be ramped up in the coming weeks.
“We are going to definitely have to sit down and have discussions around the current coaching staff and this has been said to them already about what they roles are, and we may have to tweak some and rearrange some, but I do not want to commit to what that would look like now,” he said.
Jameson Rigues, reign of interim president of the T&T Super League will continue for the foreseeable future after the annual general meeting (AGM) which had on its agenda the elections of a new leader was halted due to disturbances by the membership on Sunday.
The highlight of AGM which was held virtually was expected to be the contesting of the post of President of T&TSL between Rigues and former national football team captain Clayton Morris.
Rigues, the manager of Guaya FC manager and Morris, coach of the University of T&T (UTT) were the only candidates for the position of President.
At the nomination, Rigues was nominated by his club and seconded by Petit Valley/Diego Martin United while Morris was nominated by Club Sando and seconded by Bethel United, but the meeting never get past that stage.
Contacted for comment, former T&T Football Association (TTFA) board member Boris Punch, the current chairman of the TTSL Elections Committee confirmed the elections was called to a halt without the post of President being acted upon.
The outcome of today’s AGM may well be accepted by Rigues for the time being as last week he told Guardian Media Sports that he felt the that he should be at the helm as Interim President until post coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which will allow for elections to be held in person or until the Public Health guidelines from the Ministry of Health are as such that the elections can be held.
While Rigues was against the holding of the AGM, the other existing board members, Second Vice President Eddison Dean, and elected members Colin Murray, Terry Joseph and Anderson Veronique, were all in favour of the elections taking place.
However, in a release to the media on Sunday Rigues, the TTSL Interim President stated that he had to close the TTSL AGM 2020 due to deliberate disruptive actions of certain elements to usurp the proper conduct of the Meeting.
Rigues pointed out that there were attempts by the TTSL League Secretary, Peter Thomas and accomplices to usurp the TTSL AGM 2020 with their deliberate disruptive actions and despite his exercising an abundance of patience he had no choice but to call the meeting which was convened at 11:30 am to a close at 1:42 pm.
Rigues lamented the fact that despite the darkness of the turbulent time for Trinidad and Tobago football during the past nine-month period, there are those within the ranks of the football fraternity bent on being obstructionists at every opportunity.
Rigues stated, “I have requested a report of the AGM based on the recording of the virtual meeting and despite the disruptive actions today, I wish to confirm my intention to have the proper conduct of the business of the T&T Super League to ensure the rights of the entire membership are respected and guaranteed in keeping with the TTSL Constitution and Bye-Laws, all within the TTFA Family.” November 29th 2020 Interim President, TTSL
On Saturday, Rigues in another letter to the media attempted to have the election of President left vacant by Keith Look Loy postponed as he felt it would have served the body better to hold the AGM in person than via a virtual forum.
Rigues noted that according to the Constitution and Bye-Laws of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) he had taken all necessary precautions well within his mandate and responsibilities to ensure the strict and proper operation of the TTSL within the Constitution and Bye-Laws, Statutes and Codes of the T&T Super League with particular reference to our TTSL AGM 2020.
He added, “As you are aware, the Members of the Board of the TTSL have set November 29th 2020 as the date to host the TTSL AGM 2020 and the members of the Board have also stated that the AGM will be hosted virtually and you have been provided with the Agenda.
However, he noted that having received the expressed major concern of certain members of the TTSL concerning the fact that the ‘Election of President’ is listed on the Agenda, which is in contravention with the directions of the TTSL Constitution, Article 26.1 that states; “Elections shall be conducted by position and shall be conducted by secret ballot” and the TTSL Bye-Laws, Article 30.1, which also states; “Elections shall be conducted by position and shall be conducted by secret ballot” I dispatched two letters in this regard to seek the best manner of ensuring the strict and proper operation of the TTSL.
Based on those observations Rigues who had written to Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith on November 13, for permission to host the TTSL AGM at a venue that would provide for live assembly within the COVID-19 restrictions of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and also rote to Robert Hadad, the head of the Fifa installed Normalization Committee on November 23 to enquire whether an “Election for President” was considered acceptable to the TTFA and by extension FIFA was against the staging of the elections.
Attorney Judy Daniel, the deputy chairman of the FIFA appointed Normalisation Committee of the TTFA.
A response from the FIFA appointed Normalisation Committee to the membership of the T&T Football Association is expected on Tuesday, a member of the Board of Directors of the TTFA has said.
The members accused Hadad of gross mismanagement last week Saturday (May 1) in carrying out a mandate given by the sport's world governing body for football - FIFA, to stabilise T&T football, clear a crippling debt and prepare the members for elections in two years time.
Hadad was called out for a number of issues, including the non-payment of salaries to staff, players and coaches of the senior national men's team, no audited and compliance committee, no annual general meetings (AGM), no audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020; increasing debt and poor financial management, and the mismanagement of the World Cup match against Guyana that was eventually played in the Dominican Republic.
Attorney Judy Daniel, one of the members of the normalisation committee who had been trapped abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said on Monday that while she was not at liberty to speak on issues coming out of the committee as there is a spokesman for that purpose, she did give the assurance that the committee will be issuing a response to the TTFA membership very soon.
Hadad and his other members, former banker Nigel Romano and businessman Trevor Gomez could not be reached for comment, but upon receipt of the 15-page letter from the membership on April 8, Hadad said: "The Normalisation process was fully allowed to function as of November 2020 and the process for any Member Association is difficult and challenging. FIFA and CONCACAF continue to guide this process as we work towards resurrecting football out of its doldrums, which has been made more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It must be noted that many details outlined in the document are inaccurate and based on assumptions. We will endeavour to improve on the communication channels between the TTFA and its membership so that the members are provided with accurate sources of information on these matters, with the aim of fostering a stronger relationship between all parties."
Trinidad and Tobago footballers and technical staff members are expected to receive outstanding money and stipends owed to them by the end of May.
This follows two meetings held over the past week between members of the National Football Coaches of TT (NFCTT) and members of the normalisation committee. The normalisation committee runs the affairs of local football.
In a WhatsApp message to Newsday on Saturday, interim president of NFCTT Jefferson George, said, “The coaches association is pleased to announce that we had a fruitful meeting with the normalisation committee yesterday (Friday).”
The normalisation committee told members of NFCTT that outstanding salaries will be paid in the coming weeks.
“We received satisfactory updates on many issues including but not limited to outstanding payments to technical staff and stipends for players. A commitment was made by the normalisation committee to resolve the pending remuneration situation by the end of May. The coaches association and the normalisation committee will make a joint statement that time with more details.”
Businessman Robert Hadad - chairman of FIFA Normalisation Committee.
The FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) has assured its commitment to fulfilling the mandate given to it by the sport’s world governing body- FIFA, in March last year, and has sought the services of Accounting firm Ernest &Young to achieve its goal.
The mandate includes the liquidation of a rising debt that has for many years, crippled T&T’s football. The mandate also requires the normalisation committee to position the T&TFA for fresh elections after two years.
In a response to the TTFA membership that comes almost three weeks after concerns were raised about blatant mismanagement in the sport, Robert Hadad, the chairman of the normalisation committee issued a four-page response that highlighted the state of affairs of the sport presently and the challenges they faced in attempting to achieve their mandate.
On May 1, Hadad was called out for gross mismanagement, ranging from his non-payment of salaries to staff members, players and coaches of the senior national men's team which is scheduled to play World Cup qualifying matches against the Bahamas and St Kitts/Nevis in June, to no audited and compliance committee, no annual general meetings (AGM), no audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020; increasing debt and poor financial management, and the mismanagement of the World Cup match against Guyana that was played in the Dominican Republic.
Hhowever, Hadad said yesterday: “The audited financial statements for years ended December 31, 2017, and 2018 reported that the TTFA’s current liabilities far exceeded its current assets, casting doubt on the TTFA’s ability to continue as a going concern. In the most recent audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019, dated February 26, 2021, the auditors were not able to provide an opinion since they could not be assured of the TTFA’s ability to satisfy all its debts and to continue as a going concern.
Given the TTFA’s poor financial condition, the NC engaged an independent professional services firm, Ernst & Young Services Limited (EY), to verify the TTFA’s creditors. EY’s report, dated April 9, 2021, revealed total estimated outstanding liabilities and unasserted claims (contingent liabilities) of approximately TT$98.5 million as of February 9, 2021. EY also reported major policy, procedural and control deficiencies within the TTFA’s Purchase to Pay process. EYs work will assist with the formulation of a debt repayment plan as well as inform the remediation requirements necessary to enhance the TTFA’s overall governance and control environment.”
Hadad assured that since financial governance is a cornerstone and an indication of the strength of an organization, pursuant to the audited financial statements, the NC’s review of the organization and EY’s findings, it appears that the Association suffered from weak financial governance and, as a result, has been mismanaged for several years.
“The financial statements, which were ratified at General Meetings over the last decade, suggest that the Association has consistently failed to manage its expenses within approved budgets. The result: mounting debt and the TTFA facing the very real risk of insolvency and liquidation.
Therefore, it is critical that, the TTFA’s financial affairs be managed in a sustainable manner. We cannot repeat what happened at the start of 2020, when the TTFA appointed dozens of coaching and technical staff for its various National Teams and other administrative staff, committing to pay net salaries amounting to just under US$1.0 million; about 100% of the TTFA’s annual FIFA Forward allocation, the TTFA’s only confirmed source of funding. Therefore, funds for other expenses, including airfare and accommodation for tournaments, utilities and insurance, to name a few, were not adequately budgeted,” the report said.
According to the normalisation committee, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has further exacerbated situations, as it dispelled claims it mismanaged the country’s World Cup qualifying matches to be played at home, which including Guyana match on March 25.
“After FIFA lifted the TTFA’s suspension on 19th November 2020, and CONCACAF confirmed the new schedule of the 2021 World Cup Qualifiers on 4th December 2020, the NC held the first of many meetings, with the Sports Company of T&T on 21st December 2020 to develop plans for hosting the Guyana Qualifier in Trinidad and Tobago. However, based on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) response on 19th February 2021, to the TTFA’s proposal, the match had to be played in another territory.
Since then, in preparation for the June 2021 Qualifiers, the Ministry of Health has been engaged in numerous discussions to evaluate the option of hosting those games on home soil. However, given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, that option is not feasible.”
In the meantime, the committee assured that the country participated at FIFA and CONCACAF tournaments, while the senior women’s team will begin training soon.
The committee is also in the process of forming a Unified League, as League football in T&T has been going through a transitionary period with discussions centred around the development of a national league structure. As such the NC has contacted the FIFA League Development Programme for advice and technical guidance as it designs the unified league structure from grassroots to elite players. The exercise is being led by a Steering Committee which comprises representatives from key stakeholders of league football in T&T.
A response by the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) on Tuesday to concerns raised by the T&T Football Association’s (TTFA) membership on May 1, appeared to have raised more questions than it provided answers.
Ramesh Ramdhan, the former TTFA general secretary who worked for several months with the NC before he was suspended, has raised a number of questions surrounding the TT$98.5 million debt.
Ramdhan believes that the response by the normalisation committee which is chaired by businessman Robert Hadad, and includes Attorney Judy Daniel, Nigel Romano, and Trevor Gomez, only served to confirm the ill intention of the appointment of the NC by FIFA, rather than to fix the issues plaguing local football, inclusive of the debt.
The local football members, in a stinging 15-page document accused Hadad and his committee of mismanaging the affairs of the sport, and called on the Hadad-led committee to stick to the mandate given by FIFA to stabilise local football, clear the existing debt and prepare for fresh football election to be held after a period of two years.
The NC in a four-page unsigned response summarised that the TTFA has, for the past decade been on the verge of insolvency, not only because of the debt but because of decisions in the past that continue to increase its financial burdens.
Hadad, via the services of accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) has put the debt at $98.5 million to date, which he promised will be cleared by both entities - EY and the NC.
Ramdhan, a former FIFA World Cup referee, said the report is an indication that Hadad and his committee are incapable of achieving its mandate and FIFA is well aware of it.
“What FIFA did by bringing a committee is to use a nuclear weapon which will destroy everything. The nuclear weapon is the normalisation committee to achieve the removal of the previous administration, which promised to be transparent and disclose the whole thing with the Home of Football (Couva) and how the monies were spent. That is all FIFA wanted to achieve and they achieved it, so they have put the TTFA in a worse position,” he said.
Only recently certain members of the TTFA questioned the sincerity of the sport’s world governing body for football after they failed to get as simple as a letter of acknowledgement to their letter of concern on May 1, sent to all the NC members and the FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.
“Are they really interested in solving the problems with T&T football?” one member asked.
Ramdhan, who was quick to dissect the NC letter, challenged the veracity of the TTFA debt and questioned the new figures that were highlighted for the salaries of coaches Derek King, an assistant to senior team coach Terry Fenwick, Kelvin Jack, the goalkeeper coach for all the national teams, and why the NC has paid for futsal coach Constantine Konstin.
According to Ramdhan: “What Ernst and Young did was what we got done for free which was verifying the debt. Our debt stood at $53 million and there were other things that were factored in separately, like the debt to Jack Warner which is estimated at TT$23 million, and a couple other financial matters which are yet to be determined and which if you add all, came up to about TT$71 million dollars.
"What they paid EY to do, our auditors of Madan Ramnarine and Company, who were the TTFA auditors confirmed the debt and had an audited financial statement completed for 2019 and that formed part of FIFA’s mission report. So unless he factored in all the contracts that were given under Wallace, and not considering that Terry Fenwick’s contract was a one-year contract in the first instance, then there’re certain achievable.
"Then we were paying Kelvin Jack, the goalkeeper coach TT$20,000, a month and I saw where it's quoted as US$9,000 which is a lot more money than we agreed to pay him. We gave him a one-year contract for $20,000 per month, and he couldn’t do anything because he couldn’t come to T&T. Then, I see they raised Derek King’s salary from US$6,000 a month to US$8,000 so I don’t know what is the rationale for changing those. All the coaches we appointed were up to August after the competitions. So I don’t understand how they arrived at that exorbitant figure of close to a million dollars.
"Also, the futsal coach wasn’t being paid by the TTFA. Edwards who is the president of the Futsal Association had made arrangements for Konstin to be paid. We were only paying the manager who was Nigel Roberts and everything was handled by the futsal association.”
Hadad told Guardian Media Sports earlier this year that several debt-eradicating initiatives were being considered to clear the existing debt, including mortgaging the controversial Home of Football. Despite rumours now of ongoing work to fix the Home of Football now by the normalisation committee, there are questions of how Ernst and Young, in a collaborative effort with the normalisation committee, can clear the existing debt of the TTFA, unless there is some kind of revenue stream to do so.
Under the Wallace-led administration, the United TTFA, a series of initiatives to reduce the debt, including the transformation of the Arima Velodrome to a multi-purpose-residential, commercial, and sporting state-of-the-art facility by UK architectural firm Lavendar, to the Avec Sports deal, to hosting English Premiership giants Manchester City for an international friendly match with the T&T team, but all fell flat upon their removal.
Ramdhan said the sport faces a difficult situation with the abandonment of corporate citizens in T&T, the reluctance of the government to get involved and the inability of the current administration to do anything.
Sport and Community Development Minister Shamfa Cudjoe
The T&T Pro League will have to produce a very strong business plan if it is to receive funding from the government.
Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe said this on Saturday as she addressed the issues facing sports in T&T, as well as the ways the government can help, on the Andre Baptiste Radio Programme on I95.5FM.
“Football is everybody’s sport, so of course, the government will invest and contribute but their business plan has to be a sound one, and we have to do better than we did before,” Cudjoe said.
The T&T Pro League has been on a transitioning phase with a possible merger with the T&T Super League (TTSL) to form the main Leagues in the country, which is set to be comparable with the top International Leagues such as the English Premiership, the German Bundesliga and the Spanish La Liga, among others.
This process was being assisted by the sport’s world governing body- FIFA, CONCACAF AND UEFA, along with the country’s parent body the T&T Football Association (TTFA), back in 2018.
Cudjoe said her government has invested in the Pro League for some 16 years and the league is still not sustainable.
"We have invested in the Pro League from as early as 2004, that is over 16 years of investment in the Pro League that had the intention of becoming self-sustainable, and with that arrangement with the Pro League, where we said after three years have been completed, we would look at the business plan on the way forward.”
According to Cudjoe: “I knew they were making significant strides as it relates to having the Pro League and the Super League merge, and under the guidance of the TTFA, those conversations had started.
"I don’t know where they are right now, but I haven’t seen a proposal, as it relates to that. Of course, I hope it will be something that will redound to the benefit of all local athletes and the development of football."
In 2020, Cudjoe said publicly that funding was only going to be given to grassroot sports, a comment that came in the midst of the wrangling between the embattled football association which was led by William Wallace, and the sport’s world governing body FIFA over the right to replace the Wallace-led United TTFA with a FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee.
ROBERT Hadad, chairman of the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee, which conducts the affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA), said on Monday that his group will be investigating an alleged incident involving national men’s team goalkeeper coach Kelvin Jack and uncapped TT player Gary Griffith III, which took place at the team’s camp in Nassau, Bahamas on Saturday morning.
TT drew 0-0 with the hosts Bahamas hours later, at the Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, a result which saw them eliminated from a chance to advance to the second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone qualifiers.
Hadad, in an interview on Monday evening, said, “I don’t have any details on it as yet. I don’t know what happened. We are investigating, though, the issue.”
Asked if this incident will may see Griffith III facing punishment by the team’s management ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against St Kitts/Nevis, at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Hadad replied, “That is the coach’s decision. I’m not there and I can’t (dictate) to the coach (Terry Fenwick).
“I don’t know what his intention is,” he added. “But we know of something (that happened) and we will be investigating.”
Hadad, who said he is awaiting a report from team manager Adrian Romain, said, “Let me get the analysis because we have to interview everybody, who were witnesses, before we can find out exactly (what to do).”
He added, “I cannot comment on exactly what happened until I see the report. I don’t know what has taken place.”
CoP Griffith pulls his support of TT men's football team JELANI BECKLES 3 DAYS AGO
In this March 5, 2021 file photo Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith speaks with reporters at a luncheon and training session held, at the Police Barracks, St James for members of the TT men's football team. - ROGER JACOB
COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith said he will not be lending assistance to the national men’s senior football team again after being questioned why he is supporting the team.
Griffith’s son Gary Griffith III has been a member of the national team training squad under head coach Terry Fenwick.
Griffith has been seen at national team training sessions regularly over the past year.
In a statement on Facebook on Friday, Griffith said, “Today, I am more convinced than ever, that my decision to now, walk away completely from any further assistance, support of, or with the men’s national senior team is the correct thing to do, as nothing in this world is more important to me than my family. Today, Express journalist, (named reporter), in her continued attempts to obtain an ‘ah ketch yuh’ moment, has now moved into sport reporting, and joined the ranks of the many in this country who have found it fulfilling to discredit, disrespect, and pour disdain upon my son.”
Griffith was asked if his interest in football is because of his son. Griffith said, “The Express have never asked about my support of the numerous other national teams over the last ten years I have supported in the past, nor of the numerous players my family and I have bent over backwards to facilitate, but today, her lines of questioning included, ‘Was assistance to the TTFA a condition for your son receiving a spot on the national team?’
Griffith said his support for the national team is not only in recent times.
“The Express reporter, sent me a number of questions on my support of the national team. Interestingly enough, because of her total lack of knowledge about TT football, she obviously did not know that I have worked closely with the TTFA for the past decade under (former TTFA presidents) Raymond Tim Kee, David John-Williams, William Wallace to Robert Hadad (chairman of the normalisation committee), and assisted the national coaches from Stephen Hart to Dennis Lawrence to Terry Fenwick, inclusive of being on the technical staff and the local organising committee.”
Over the past year, Griffith has facilitated national team training sessions at the St James Police Barracks.
A TTFA official informed Newsday that Griffith “has been a great support to the TTFA and the senior men’s national team from assistance in using the fields, transportation and meals for the senior men’s national team. Also, a great help with logistics as the covid19 situation is dynamic.”
Griffith said his son has never been treated equally. “Gary Griffith III’s career started at six years old, and every time he has touched a ball in this country, he has been the victim of who his parents are.”
Former Miss TT Nicole Dyer-Griffith is the mother of Griffith III.
Griffith said, “He has never received a fair shake, based on his skill, ability or competence. When competing for a spot on the national Under-15 team, he was told by a well-known coach, ‘Even though everyone else is getting a full game, you can only play a ten minutes to show your worth, because we don’t want people thinking we giving you precedence over others because of who you are.’”
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith speaks during a media briefing at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain, on Monday. - Photo by Sureash Cholai
COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith said his son’s selection to the national senior men’s football team was achieved based on his own merit and not on the premise of his father’s position at the helm of national security.
Griffith made these statements at a police press briefing on Monday. This comes nine days after an incident involving now former national men’s team goalkeeping coach Kelvin Jack and the CoP’s son, Gary Griffith III, which took place at the team’s camp in Nassau, Bahamas.
A short video clip of the incident was recorded by Griffith III and showed a visibly upset Jack telling the player, “I don’t care who you go and tell because your father doesn’t have more influence than me in TT football.”
Hours after, TT was eliminated from a chance to advance to the second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone qualifiers.
Ironically, when the team returned home, head coach Terry Fenwick, assistant coach Derek King and Jack were all sacked for their failure to reach the second round of FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Before Griffith’s statement, it was said that Griffith III stormed out of a team-building exercise and was disrespectful because he was not selected to play in the Bahamas clash.
The CoP opted to clear the air on this matter and took aim at two particular journalists, who have “never kicked a lime” and who he said have been targeting his son to tarnish his character.
“Now we are seeing a desperate point to absorb lies, fake news, especially if it is juicy, to discredit my son because of who I am. Talks about my son being indisciplined and how he stormed out disciplinary meetings. That is a lie!
“That is a blatant lie. He never stormed out. My son was at a dinner table with the national team and after he completed dinner, he was going to the bathroom and he left. That is it! My son said nothing, he did nothing!
"The hatred and bitterness that some (people) have over me; they have trained it to my family. Judge people for who they are and not who their parents are,” he said.
Since the incident, the CoP said his son has been negatively affected. He added that anyone who holds a position of authority in TT is “demonised and discredited” because, as a society, “we always find everything negative and see the glass half empty.”
Griffith even said that the team was not even in a team-building session but was singing karaoke.
According to him, his son played for TT in the Under-17 World Cup qualifiers and was invited on a number of English trials with Queen’s Park Rangers, Ipswich Town, Bury FC, Gateshead FC and South Shields.
He is also the only TT footballer to receive a full football scholarship, for two years, at Sunderland College. Griffith III, however, although making the final 23-man team for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, did not feature in any of the four matches (Guyana, Puerto Rico, Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis). He is the youngest players on the senior team but is yet to make his national debut at this level.
Griffith even directed blame at an online journalist hinting that his negative reporting on the national team prior and during the tournament may have been the decisive factor in getting them kicked out.
“Every article he has put out on the TT football team has been negative, something of bacchanal and of gossip. That has done nothing to assist the national football. Thanks to (name called), he might have very well been the catalyst towards us not qualifying for the World Cup.
“Because when you put negativity constantly on a team, that can affect players before they go on to the field. So thank you Mr (name called) for what you have done.
“Here we have an 18-year old national player doing his best for this country and all you have from persons with no degree of coach qualifications in any aspect in football wants to demonise a national footballer without understanding the fact,” he added.
The CoP also called on corporate TT and other entities to stop criticising the team’s shortcomings and help invest and elevate the squad in its development.
So much so, that he even challenged those questioning his son’s talent for a game of one-vs-one against Griffith III.
“How many persons in the private sector have assisted any of our national teams ever? Very little! Our objective is to demonise, criticise and discredit our national teams, players and staff.
“People who want to continue to criticise my son, I challenge any of you all, seeing that you figure he can’t play football, let’s have a small goal (tournament), him against you. I’ll give you a four goal head start (to five). If you win, I’ll eat my police cap,” he said.
After the incident, Griffith said he would step away from his involvement in sport if it continues to affect his son.
When asked if this decision remains, he said, “It’s still the decision. If it is that my involvement is going to affect the development of my son, I’ve achieved, my son is just starting. I think I am the only person in this country who has been doing anything to help our national football team.
“We have so many companies, so many persons; just help. It’s unfair for me to be doing everything possible to help my country and to help the national team, and my son is being targeted for it. I think it is unfair to him. He should be judged based on who he is and not who his father is.”
Jameson Rigues, the former interim president of the T&T Super League is offering his services and expertise to the members of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) to find a solution to the problems affecting the sport of football.
Rigues, who contested the leadership of the organisation last year against former 'Strike Squad' defender and captain Clayton Morris and lost, said he intends to chat with Robert Hadad, chairman of the NC to agree on common grounds moving forward.
Rigues, the First vice president of the T&TSL in his letter dated June 8 to Hadad, stated: "The constantly declining state of T&T football is desperately calling for a proper T&T Football Plan (TTFP), a vision for football in 2030. The plan is a set of ambitious, yet tangible goals that everyone in T&T football can work towards over the next eight years, at least, as we strive to become the most popular and well organized footballing nation in CONCACAF and qualify for consecutive FIFA World Cups from 2026."
He noted: "Along the way, football will nurture a lifetime connection to the game for all our people in all our diversity. We all want football to live and breathe beyond the 90 minutes.
The (TTFP) is a collaboration involving all of Football’s stakeholders; everyone from national, state and private enterprise to the community participants, from top Tier clubs to fans on the bleachers and in digital communities. The TTFP represents the game’s collective wisdom at this point in time. The plan will give the sense that the game is on the move and that our best years are ahead of us."
Hadad and his members - attorney Judy Daniel, the deputy chairman and businessmen Nigel Romano and Trevor Gomez may feel that they are in need of much-needed help following the disclosure of a $98.5 million debt, discontent among the membership, no development programmes, no functional committees, and a senior national team that just failed to emerge from the first round of the FIFA World Cup Concacaf Qualifiers recently.
According to Rigues, "We need to harness the unity of purpose, energy, confidence and ambition that exists in T&T football, explore the potential of our youth in the decision-making process and ensure that there is a new breed of qualified individuals in leadership roles.
To me, it makes no sense hiring and firing coaches, expecting results from matches, without a clear national football plan.
Like any game of football, the TTFP will inevitably spark debate and become a contest of ideas where the outcome cannot be easily predicted. That’s the nature of any grand undertaking.
In developing this plan, football must make a decision not to be limited by the game’s resources in 2021.
There must be a firm conviction that football’s best years are ahead of us. This growth will bring the promise of greater revenues and new income streams, enough to fund the future. But I can say with certainty that without an inclusive national plan with a long-term vision,
T&T football cannot possibly reach its potential."
TTFA normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad. -
CHAIRMAN of the normalisation committee Robert Hadad said the TT Football Association (TTFA) will continue working with the Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith as local football needs all the help it could get.
In a Facebook post on June 4, Griffith said he would no longer support the national men’s senior football team. Griffith’s announcement came shortly after he was questioned by an Express reporter whether his support for the team was in an effort to get his son Gary Griffith III selected.
In the post, Griffith said he has been supporting TT football for many years.
At a police briefing on Tuesday, Griffith said he has continued to help the national team.
New interim head coach Angus Eve recently contacted Griffith as one player and three staff members were in need of visas to travel to Ft Lauderdale for the Concacaf Gold Cup qualifiers.
Griffith said he contacted the US Embassy and helped those who were in need of visas.
Responding to questions asked via Whatsapp about Griffith's involvement, Hadad said, “Football in our country requires help and support from as many people as you can find. Gary has been there to help and support football and for that, we are grateful and appreciative. We will use any resource we can find to help us get over the problems we face.”
Hadad said he saw no conflict of interest in the commissioner’s involvement.
“No, there is no issue. Gary has never asked for any special treatment from any of the normalisation committee members. He has helped of his free will."
He added, "Gary Griffith III deserves a fair chance of proving himself and I think you also should leave the young man to develop his own identity.”
TT men’s football team head coach Angus Eve. - Griffith III, 18, has been a part of the TT men’s senior football training squad for more than a year. The CoP and former national coach Terry Fenwick shared a friendly relationship and partnered as well in the hosting of the Commissioner Cup in 2019 through Fenwick's Football Factory Foundation. During Fenwick’s tenure, the national team trained regularly at the St James Police Barracks.
Asked if the Ministry of Sport and Community Development or the management of the team should have assisted with the visas instead, Hadad said, “The ministry has helped and continues to help football. Gary is just supporting and giving a helping hand. The entire country needs to jump on board and work in a positive manner to help get football out of the low place it is in.”
Former TTFA president and former manager of the national team William Wallace said receiving help from Griffith was not unusual.
He told Newsday, “We would have had help to get them (visas) – help in the sense of facilitating the process, but it is not a strange thing.”
Wallace added, “If you know somebody who is working there and (they can) help facilitate the process (of a) national team, it was done. It was never going through any ministry of anything. We did it direct.
“We had somebody by us who knew somebody there and we were able to facilitate it.”
Eve, speaking to media on Zoom during a briefing on Wednesday, said goalkeeping coach Clayton Ince, strength and conditioning coach Adaryll John and player Reon Moore got help from Griffith in getting their visas. At the time Eve could not recall the fourth person Griffith helped, but later it was confirmed that performance trainer/massage therapist Saron Joseph got his visa.
Eve said, “Commissioner Griffith has always been a friend to the TTFA as far as I see, going way back and he has reached out and helped in this scenario…he is a Trinidadian and if he can help the team going forward in a positive manner of course. Just as you guys (media), we need you the same way.”
Asked if Griffith III is in his future plans, Eve simply stated, “He is a Trinidadian and he is a young footballer.”
CoP has change of heart, helps Trinidad and Tobago footballers, staff get visa JELANI BECKLES YESTERDAY
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith speaks during a press conference, at the Police Administration Building, Port of Spain, on Tuesday. - SUREASH CHOLAI
COMMISSIONER of Police Gary Griffith has continued to assist the national men’s senior football team weeks after saying he will no longer support the team.
Over the past decade, Griffith has thrown support behind the national team. Over the past year, he has come to the aid of national players under former coach Terry Fenwick which included providing meals and transport.
He has also allowed the team to train at the St James Police Barracks.
Angus Eve replaced Fenwick as interim head coach on June 13. Eve contacted Griffith in an effort to get visas for two of his players and two technical staff members.
At a Police briefing on Tuesday, Griffith said, “As the Commissioner of Police at times I would interact with the US Embassy…I was liaising with the immigration department to try to see how we could fast track to get those passports to have players that might very well have competed or even replaced my son (Gary Griffith III). In this same situation, Angus Eve got the job yesterday for today. He had to fly out a couple days later, he contacted me and there were two players he needed to get on board.”
Griffith confirmed two members of the technical staff also needed help getting visas.
“There were four persons that he asked for me to assist desperately…I interact on a regular basis with our international allies so I was able to liaise with them and explain the situation (that) it was national duty for national players and if they were able to assist.”
Griffith has been criticised for his connection with the national team and was questioned if he was trying to get his son Griffith III on the team.
In a statement on Facebook on June 4, Griffith said he will no longer support the team following criticism that his involvement was in an effort to get his son chosen.
“Today, I am more convinced than ever, that my decision to now, walk away completely from any further assistance, support of, or with the men’s national senior team is the correct thing to do, as nothing in this world is more important to me than my family. Today, Express journalist, (named reporter), in her continued attempts to obtain an ‘ah ketch yuh’ moment, has now moved into sport reporting, and joined the ranks of the many in this country who have found it fulfilling to discredit, disrespect, and pour disdain upon my son.”
On Tuesday, implying that his son may be next in line, Griffith, who is not a TT football selector, said, “These two individuals got their US visas and because of that my son who was on the previous squad of 23 for the last World Cup (qualifying) game against St Kitts was then dropped for another player who I got the visa for. So persons who claim that I have influence on getting my son on the national team put that in your pipe and smoke it.”
Griffith III was part of the 60-man provisional squad for the Gold Cup qualifying tournament named on June 18. When the squad was cut to 26 a week later Griffith III was not included.
TT will face Montserrat in the first round of the qualifiers on Friday in Ft Lauderdale.