March 17 – The Trinidad and Tobago FA (TTFA) plumbed new depths of ignomy when head coach Terry Fenwick yesterday allegedly headbutted media officer Shaun Fuentes, twice, before then putting his hand to his face and pushing him. Fenwick had to be separated from Fuentes by his kitman.
Fenwick has subsequently denied the accusations and the TTFA even issued a press release – from the assaulted press officer Fuentes – saying “the matter was blown out of proportion”. But it was not before voice messages were being shared on social media by players and media who witnessed the confrontation.
The assault took place (Wednesday) minutes before a press conference was due to be held before the team leaves for the Dominican Republic (today) for the first of two World Cup qualifiers. Fenwick was objecting to the presence of one member of the local media.
Initially it was unclear whether Englishman Fenwick would be allowed to leave with the team as the incident, as reported by witnesses, constitutes a clear case of gross misconduct and would theoretically provide just cause for his removal. But it now looks like, in the interest of whatever harmony can be left after such an incident like this, it has been swept under the carpet.
It is a another blow to the reputation of the TTFA and the country which lost credibility in its football management as it racked up debt and on the pitch was spanked 7-0 by a makeshift US team in the only competitive match of Fenwick’s tenure. The days of the 2-1 win that kept the US out of the 2018 Russia World Cup, and qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany now seem a very distant past.
Fenwick has long been a controversial character. Strongly believed to have arranged a forged letter of sponsorship support from local construction business Junior Sammy, Fenwick delivered it to a press launch before the election of former president William Wallace and his ‘United TTFA’ group of officials. The letter was later found to be fraudulent and the signature forged – though issued on company letterhead – and no sponsorship had been agreed.
The fraud was not discovered before Wallace had been elected TTFA president and appointed Fenwick as head coach of the national team, removing Dennis Lawrence who had a year left to run on his contract.
While the disgraced Wallace was removed by FIFA and a Normalisation Committee imposed, Fenwick (who does not hold a current professional coaching qualification) continued in position.
Fenwick has been no stranger to violent conduct during his time in Trinidad having previously been banned for elbowing an opposition player in the head in the technical area while managing in a club game, slapping one of his own players in the head after substituting him, and in another incident chasing a club owner into the car park 15 minutes before the end of a game and abusing him.
English fans will remember Fenwick more for his heading ability than ball playing ability, and they will doubtless wish he had used his head more effectively when Maradona ran rings round him in England’s defence at the 1986 World Cup.
The last Trinidad and Tobago manager Dennis Lawrence used his head to much greater effect. He headed the goal that took Trinidad and Tobago to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
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