Shamfa Cudjoe

RESPECTING PARENT BODY: Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Shamfa Cudjoe.

Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs (MSYA) Shamfa Cudjoe is expected to meet with FIFA Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad for the first time sometime next week.

FIFA apart, the T&T Government, through MSYA and the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago, is the major provider of funds to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Cudjoe admitted FIFA had brief the Government of its impending action, prior to dissolving the debt-ridden TTFA on March 17 and subsequently imposing a Normalisation Committee — headed by local businessman Robert Hadad — to manage local football.

“I am yet to meet with the new head of the body, which FIFA has put in charge, but I expect to do so in the next week or so,” informed Cudjoe, who has also indicated to availing herself to a meeting with William Wallace, president of the usurped former TTFA executive.

US$7m debt inherited

Wallace’s regime, which was elected to run the TTFA only five months ago, inherited a US$7m debt; several current and impending litigation matters; and has had its accounts frozen by a creditor prior to when FIFA intervened, citing the possibility of impending insolvency. Wallace has declared that he is still in charge, even as the ousted TTFA executive contest FIFA’S expulsion, via an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). However, Cudjoe indicated that MSYA would deal with Hadad’s Normalisation Committee rather than Wallace’s former TTFA executive.

“We have to operate on the basis of what is before us,” Cudjoe explained. “Each national body has an international parent body and in the case of football, it is FIFA.

“FIFA has come in and done what it has done. We will monitor what is taking place,” Cudjoe continued. “We have been updated by FIFA and we are keeping abreast of developments.“

The Minister has on several occasions reiterated that football is a very powerful tool for youth development in communities and provides many avenues for personal and professional growth.

Last year, Cudjoe issued a cheque for $3.6 million for funding of eight of 11 clubs that participated in the 2019 Trinidad and Tobago Pro League. Arising from a Cabinet decision to fund the TT Pro League for a period of three years, a number of clubs, namely Central FC, North East Stars FC, Calendonia AIA FC, W Connection FC, Pt Fortin FC, Club Sando FC, Terminex Rangers and San Juan Jabloteh FC.

Cudjoe also does not expect FIFA intervention to last indefinitely and thinks that football needs to be in a better place than it is now. She has urged stakeholders to focus on creating opportunities for the nation’s youth.

“We have all been concerned with the situation in football for some time,” the Sport Minister stated. “I hope that all stakeholders will work together because at the end of the day its about football and restoring Trinidad and Tobago football to its former glory.”

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