By Paul Nicholson
September 1 – Despite calls from clubs, players and government to the ousted TTFA president William Wallace and his board to drop the legal complaint against FIFA in the Trinidad and Tobago courts, Wallace is refusing to back down and has written to confederation presidents and member associations with a plea for support.
It is a remarkable letter that is long on rhetoric but very short on the truthful detail of why FIFA imposed a Normalisation Committee and the suspicions and evidence of corruption, profiteering and lies to the rank and file membership that had become the hallmark of his short three-month term in office.
Wallace has refused to respond to most of the corruption allegations or to explain with full transparency the reasons for his decision making.
In a letter to Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa (Wallace gets his name wrong in the letter) Wallace appeals “to all fair-minded Member Associations of FIFA, and our brothers and sisters in Asia to investigate FIFA’s decision ahead of the Congress in an effort to protect football democracy and fair play.”
The first step of that investigation should be a harder and more forensic look at why Wallace and his ‘United TTFA’ were crew removed, the dubious contracts they had entered into, the relationships with known fraudsters they were promoting, and the loss of the federation’s bank account that was frozen by the court (not FIFA) and their failure to attend court sessions. Wallace references some of the allegations in his letter.
He fails to mention the strong personal ties his group have to Football’s Most Wanted, disgraced former Concacaf president and FIFA vice president Jack Warner who since the 2015 US Justice Department indictments has been battling extradition to the US and the likelihood he would spend the rest of his life in a US prison.
With all the local media noise and strings pulled with multiple diversionary stories and even the Police Commissioner coming out initially supportive of them (surely he is meant to investigate crime?), the cover-up of their dodgy dealing and the changing of the agenda has been impressive. Without looking at the facts you could almost believe they were the aggrieved party – certainly their enraged sense of entitlement to position and FIFA money .
Wallace and United TTFA ringmaster Keith Look Loy have variously called FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport corrupt, and deliberately and unfairly stacked against them. FIFA says the dispute over their suspension should be heard at CAS which is the recognised court for dispute as per their statutes, and not in the potentially rigged Trinidad and Tobago justice system (the protection of Warner would be an example of that in action).
What has never been brought to account is the catalogue of governance failure and financial discrepancies by Wallace and the failure to put forward a transparent and credible plan to move forward. Instead Wallace, and he mentions it in his letter, had his hand out for his FIFA ‘entitlement’ that not surprisingly never arrived. It appears he still does have his handout for that money.
Wallace says that: “We were able to start attracting international and local sponsors.” The reality was that there was no sponsorship. There was a kit supply deal with a little known kit supply company from the North of England called AVEC (see TTFA’s muddy kit deal reflects a federation that has spiralled out of financial control http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2020/03/16/ttfas-muddy-kit-deal-reflects-federation-spiralled-financial-control/).
Indeed, a sponsorship announced as part of Wallace’s election campaign from the Junior Sammy Group with a signed letter of support turned out to be a forgery with current national team coach Terry Fenwick said to have forged the signature. Junior Sammy Group deny any sponsorship. (See England player, club manager…forger. Terry Fenwick implicated in Trinidad scandals
http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2020/06/08/england-player-club-managerforger-terry-fenwick-implicated-trinidad-scandals/). Wallace was elected on a promise of new money into the country’s football though election fraud (Wallace has admitted that he knows the letter was forged) is another issue that has never been satisfactorily dealt with.
Fenwick, fresh from his alleged forgery, rapidly landed the national team coach job after incumbent coach Dennis Lawrence was fired less that two weeks into Wallace’s tenure.
Fenwick’s contract, that has never been signed, has since been a point of contention as there are in fact two contracts in circulation with different amounts.
The start of Wallace’s regime saw a number of peculiar decisions taken, including the immediate closure of the House of Football facility that had been opened just two weeks previously with FIFA and Concacaf in attendance. Wallace maintained the House of Football was not fit for purpose and was too costly to put right. That was clearly not true as the facility is currently being used as a Covid-19 recovery and quarantine centre.
Instead Wallace and Look Loy embarked on a separate property development venture in Arima and the proposed $50 million regeneration of a velodrome, via a partnership with newly installed marketing director Peter Miller – an English fraudster currently being chased by Port Vale Football Club lawyers for shares granted but not paid for in a scam that pushed that club towards insolvency.
Wallace’s big play (though it probably wasn’t his, he was just along for the ride) was a property development, not football development. The Arima scheme had no detail of the contracting parties, sources of finance or the ultimate beneficial owners. Neither Wallace, Look Loy (who lives in Arima and is close to the local politicians) or the rest of the then TTFA board have explained the ownership or money trail for this project. (See Disgraced TTFA board touted half-baked Arima Velodrome plan as debt solution http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2020/03/24/exclusive-disgraced-ttfa-board-touted-half-baked-arima-velodrome-plan-debt-solution/).
With money running out Wallace refused to confront the debt issues of the TTFA but quickly accepted a TT$7 million claim from Jack Warner – a claim that had not been recognised by the previous administration which was also disputing a number of spurious and fabricated claims against the federation.
With Wallace and his lawyers also failing to turn up to court dates and failing to supply explanations or payment plans to legitimate debtors, the court suspended the TTFA’s bank account. Staff went unpaid but Wallace and Look Loy continued to make promises that money was coming and they were on the right track.
FIFA, after an inspection visit and examination of Wallace’s financial floundering stepped in and removed him.
Wallace is asking his Asian ‘brothers and sisters’ for help. They will be well advised to take a harder look at the facts of this case before committing.
Wallace says in his letter that FIFA federations will be asked to vote on Trinidad and Tobago’s suspension on September 18. That is not the case and again shows a misunderstanding of FIFA processes and his lack of basic governance understanding. The decision on suspension will likely be made at the FIFA Council meeting that usually precedes the Congress. It is hard to see many tears amongst the membership – elected or otherwise who respect and follow the constitutional rules – for the pickle Wallace, Look Loy and the United TTFA have driven football in the twin island state into.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org