By Paul Nicholson
August 2 – The former president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), Tim Kee, who left the federation with a crippling TT$40 million debt when he vacated the presidency in 2015, is making a bid to regain control as part of a group calling itself ‘United TTFA’ when elections take place later this year.
The ‘United’ group says it is frustrated by the performance of national teams, their claims that there has been collapse of grassroots football and what they say is a lack of transparency and accountability within the TTFA. It is a hard hitting list of criticisms from a group that fails to acknowledge the political environment they exited at the time of the worst crisis ever in Caribbean football in 2015, and the financial constraints the TTFA has had to operate under with the debt the previous administration – that they were part of – had built.
Tim Kee, who was president from 2012 to 2015 and who had been finance manager under the previous president Ollie Camp, has aligned with a number of former TTFA colleagues who were all supporters of former Concacaf president and FIFA vice president Jack Warner. Warner had never held the presidency of the TTFA but he had been general secretary. He this week filed court proceedings in Trinidad for the repayment of a $2.3 million loan which he claims is still outstanding – adding further uncertainty to the TTFA’s already shaky financial outlook.
Speaking at a gathering of ‘United TTFA’ supporters, Keith Look Loy, former technical director of the TTFA, said that their “collective body will create a United slate of candidates for the next elections of the TTFA”. He said he would not stand for election himself but others in the room would, though he didn’t say who would stand for which position.
Those present with him and Kee included William Wallace (former manager of TTFA national teams), and Suzanne Warrick (women’s football) as well a number of other regional stakeholders tied to the Warner administration of the Caribbean.
Described by one Trinidad football observer as the “Jack Frat” – referring to their close and long association with Warner – their announcement that they were bidding for control came before Warner filed for repayment of his loans that were made when most of them were in power and in control of the TTFA’s spending.
That claim by Warner will not help their own for a return to power as it serves to highlight the financial mis-management of the federation. TTFA’s finances were highlighted as a by-product of the US indictments in 2015 and how Warner had become the central figure in those investigations. Money that should have been sent to the TTFA instead made its way to Warner’s personal accounts.
While the TTFA could now perhaps look back and see itself as a victim of Warner, its former officials that oversaw the spending, the legacy and relationships with Warner – and who now see an opportunity to return to power at the TTFA – will likely struggle to win the trust of their wider football communities and almost certainly not that of the international one.
Selby Browne, president of the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) and a new TTFA board member, emphasised that the leadership of Trinidad and Tobago should be carried out through the proper channels of the TTFA and football stakeholders across the whole community, and not by disenfranchised or ad hoc dissident groups seeking their own power bases.
“The sense of responsibility, for implementation of the vision, strategic approach, proper administration, management, transparency and accountability now lies, most importantly, with responsible Members of the Board of Directors of the TTFA of which the president (David John Williams and the target of the ‘United TT’ attack) is the Chairman.
“Unfortunately all Jack’s men standing in line under the banner United TT, complete with its self appointed Football Ombudsman have now been thrown under the Bus (by the lawsuit against the TTFA from Warner) as they plot and plot to return to the controls of the TTFA. That decision lays squarely in the hands of the TTFA delegates representing the forty seven members.”
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