THERE will be no compromise between William Wallace and his sidelined executives of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and the FIFA-imposed normalisation committee.
TTFA president William Wallace and technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy were both guests on the Field of Dreams programme on cable television on Monday. There, a combative Look Loy defended the Association’s decision to prevent access to its bank accounts by FIFA’s normalisation committee, chaired by local businessman Robert Hadad.
But while these two Goliaths battle, feeling the effects are ordinary TTFA administrative and coaching staff who have not been paid for four months.
The TTFA is owed US$1.25 million in FIFA funding. However, with both the Wallace-led TTFA and the normalisation committee claiming legitimacy, bankers First Citizens have withheld access to the Association’s accounts, barring a compromise or a court decision favouring one of the parties. In the meantime, TTFA staff have remained unpaid since February.
“We have nothing against the staff,” Look Loy said on the programme. “If FIFA wants to pay the staff directly from money that is owed to us the TTFA, they are free to do that.
“We wish they would pay the staff,” Look Loy added, “so that the staff can be paid for work they have done. They are owed.”
While the political battle rages on, an adult TTFA staff member spoke to the Express of having to once again depend on parents to make ends meet. Not paid since February, the administrative staffer shared with this newspaper the hardship faced by not being paid for four months, especially during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
“You can’t pay bills. You can’t do anything,” the TTFA staffer said. “People are calling and asking for money and for three months you have to tell them you have not been paid.
“Whatever little you have, you have to use to make sure you can eat. So all bills are packed up. You are struggling,” the staffer explained.
“There are some of us whose families are dependent on them. I am now dependent on my parents who are pensioners.”
The staffer is eagerly awaiting a call for a meeting or news that things have been resolved.
“I have not heard from the past (Wallace) regime,” said the staffer, who also reached out to TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan, who is working with the normalisation committee.
“All of them (normalisation committee) are saying they working on it, but everything is tied up with all the court matters and what not and what not.” Normalisation committee member and National Flour Mills chairman Nigel Romano was recently quoted on a television programme as stating they (normalisation committee) are working on paying the staff. Aside from access to the FCB accounts, the normalisation committee also has the difficulty of trying to protect incoming FIFA funding from garnishee orders from creditors who are owed approximately $50 million by the TTFA.
“Once we can organise a payment mechanism, then we can pay. We are taking advice on the best way because the last thing you would want to do is have the monies to put into a bank account and then you cannot get the money out,” Romano said.
Speaking to moderator and former national footballer Steve David, Look Loy spoke of a strategy of preventing the normalisation committee from taking control of T&T finances and banks accounts at First Citizens.
“We are not blocking the staff, but the FIFA normalisation committee will not control the TTFA bank accounts, because it cannot overturn an elected government,’ Look Loy insisted.
However, the ordinary TTFA employee has a different view of things.
“We, the ones in the office, are the ones who are always affected by these things,” the staffer lamented.
Meanwhile, Look Loy‘s focus has not shifted from the battle to have FIFA rescind its decision to replace Wallace’s four-month old executive.
“We have blocked them at every turn. They tried to put Terrell Patrick—who was signing checks with John-Williams—to put him in charge. That was blocked,” he said.
“They tried to impose a normalisation committee, we blocked the committee from getting access to the bank accounts,” Look Loy added.
“This little Trinidad and Tobago has forced the FIFA Goliath to respond to his case in the local court,” said Look Loy. “They were shocked because they did not expect us to stand up, and now they have to come in a different stadium to play.”