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Watson tells Sport Minister: We’ll call elections in our time
Lennox Watson, acting president of the T&T Football Federation, says Minister of Sport Anil Roberts is out of place to call on the federation to have internal elections. Watson was responding to a statement made by Roberts on Wednesday during Parliament’s tea break. Roberts called on Watson, whom he said had suddenly become “a bastion of accountability,” to call the election. “Call the football election because people are calling for that. They want to see transparency, democracy. Call the football elections," the minister urged.
In his response, Watson said Roberts was out of place. “He (Roberts), is not the one to call elections in the T&TFF. This is not his business. He cannot respond to our statements, so he has decided to get personal, but the federation will not allow any minister to direct our affairs. We will call the elections in due time,” said Watson. Roberts on Wednesday renewed calls for chairman of the TTFF Authorisation Committee, Anthony Harford, to provide proper accountability for $11 million which was provided by the Government to fund the national senior football team for the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The minister accused Harford of using the funds to pay his company All Sport Promotions $936,000. Roberts also stated that Harford failed to submit proper accounts of how the $11 million was used, even though Harford and the T&TFF have stated they complied with all the Sports Ministry requests. Displaying a list, Roberts said: “He (Harford) has not presented the ministry with receipts, bills and invoices as requested on several occasions.” Asked if he gave the T&TFF and Harford a deadline by which to submit its proper accounts, Roberts replied: “There is no deadline, but All Sport, T&TFF and Anthony Harford are not getting a cent.”
Roberts said football will continue to get funding but not through Harford, or the current T&TFF management. “Our football teams will not suffer during the Government-placed funds freeze on the T&TFF. Instead, the managers of individual national football teams can submit their budget on a T&TFF letter head, and come to the Ministry of Sport to discuss funding.” Roberts also admitted receiving a letter from National Security Minister Jack Warner. “He did write me a letter, and as any citizen he can do that, but nobody will tell me what to do when running a ministry.
I read the letter and put it in the bin.” Roberts reminded that despite the issue surrounding Harford’s accountability, his ministry spent over $1.5 million on national teams, since then. “But we did not spend it through Harford. That is the difference, he did not get the money. The money went to whoever it was owed, provided it was Crowne Plaza, Cascadia Hotel, or travel agencies or transport or whoever. So why is he upset that he did not get money. We see why he did not get money, because he did not account for the money properly to the permanent secretary. So Harford, account and provide the receipts and bills please,” pleaded Roberts
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