By Gordon Pierre
In their quickest response to football stakeholders yet, the Normalization Committee issued a statement calling for dialogue and for all to work together in good faith. Mere hours after the majority of the TTFA membership delivered a letter to the Normalization Committee head, Mr. Robert Hadad, and copied to FIFA’s Secretary General Fatma Samoura, the Normalization Committee released a press release calling for patience in dealing with the issues raised and promising a meeting to address the issues raised in the coming weeks.
The Normalization Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has received a letter from TTFA Members on 1st May 2021. We understand the concerns of the TTFA Members and will be addressing those issues with the Membership directly this week.
The Normalization 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 endeavor 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.
It is however unfortunate that this letter, which was sent internally, has found its way into the media space. Trust between the TTFA and its Membership is paramount to developing this strong relationship and we believe that by working together earnestly, it can be achieved.
Stakeholder’s immediate response
In an immediate reaction, TT Proleague acting chairman Brent Sancho, was cautiously optimistic by the Normalization Committee response and looked forward to open dialogue moving forward, “This is a good moment in football, where the stakeholders are asking questions and demanding accountability and transparency in the way football is managed,” the former World Cup player who led the Soca Warriors charge for unpaid bonuses from the 2006 World Cup campaign further stated, “Coming from a time when a man and his dog ran football and not a dog barked or ask a question, this letter from the members and the response from the Normalization Committee is very health and I am looking forward to the promised talks”. Sancho highlighted though, that a major sticking point for a number of the Proleague team owners was the Normalization Committee handling of the alleged headbutting incident between National team head coach Terry Fenwick and TTFA’s media officer Shaun Fuentes, “We the Proleague had a board meeting on May 1st, and a number of the board members had a very real issue with the way the Normalization Committee handled the Terry Fenwick issue and this will be brought up when we meet with them”. The Central F.C owner also hoped the Committee would clarify which parts of the stakeholders letter was inaccurate as state in their press release, “I hope the Normalization Committee would clarify the points that their deem inaccurate because you can’t just issue a statement without identifying the areas of inaccuracies”.
Also weighing in on the reasoning behind the letter was recently elected President of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Merere Gonzales, “The SSFL’s position is simply the need to have a meeting,” the former FIFA referee concluded, “We think it is long overdue that a meeting should be held with the stakeholders to plot the way forward collectively”
President of the newly formed Coaches Association Mr. Jefferson George state that he too was happy at the quick response by the Normalization Committee and the general tone of the press release, “While we the Coaches Association are not yet an official delegate to the TTFA, we are an important stakeholder and is happy that a response is forthcoming”. The former National youth goalkeeping coach stated that his Association have made numerous attempts to have an audience with the Normalization Committee to deal with number of issues but to no avail, “We the coaches have tried on many occasions to meet with the head of the Normalization Committee Mr. Hadad to iron out many issues so this promise of a meeting this week and the promise of better communication is music to our ears”. Only this week the coaches had to take to the media to clarify that the National Coaches still had not been paid their full salaries owed, very different from what was said by Mr Hadad. The former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper was quick to point out that the coaches were by no means trying to create confusion but if as a major stake holder if you are seeing dangerous signs, then you are obligated to ask questions and seek proper information, he reiterated the Coaches Association Commitment to working for the betterment of Trinidad and Tobago football,“ We are not here to fire Mr. Hadad because at the end of the day if the Normalization Committee is successful and Trinidad and Tobago’s football is on a good footing we all win”.
It seems like this week is going to be a very important week in the history of football in T and T as the TTFA members await their promised meeting with the Normalization Committee. Stay Tuned.