The decision of the T&T Super League (TTSL) to throw financial support behind the former T&T Football Association (TTFA), four executive members, in their efforts to fight the world governing body for football, FIFA, through the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland, for removing them from office on March 17, is being challenged.
On Thursday, Keith Look Loy, president of the TTSL, who is also the former chairman of the TTFA technical committee, said the majority of clubs in the super league have agreed to give US$2,000 (estimated TT$12,000) as a donation to help cover the legal fees of the TTFA, which stands at an estimated TT$300,000 to $500,000.
The former TTFA officers have so far raised US$1,905 through its https:/www.gofundme.com/f/TTFA-Fights-FIFA-Intervention account.
The former TTFA executive officers who will be represented by Attorneys Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew GW Gayle launched a ‘go fund me’ initiative on March 30, which called on members of the public to give generously to cover the cost of their legal challenge.
The former executives of president William Wallace and vice presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Warrick-Joseph and Joseph 'Sam' Phillip are trying to garner financial support, after FIFA appointed a normalisation committee to manage the affairs of local football on March 27.
However, some clubs have said they were unfairly left out of the decision-making process as they were never consulted.
Jameson Rigues, TTSL’s first vice president as well as Guaya United owner Randy Hagley, Derek Edwards of Petit Valley/Diego Martin United and Police have said they only learned that such a decision was made via the media.
Rigues also explained that several clubs that were suspended from not competing in the league’s last two competitions have also called him seeking answers. The 2019 season was contested by 13 clubs.
“As a board member, I have received no letter of communication, no email or WhatsApp message seeking support for the TTFA. In fact, I believe that by Look Loy is being heavily involved in the then TTFA as a former board member and technical committee chairman, I see it as a direct conflict of interest as he lobbies for something that would directly impact him,” Rigues explained.
He said, “Clubs such as Marabella Family Crisis Centre, Harlem Strikers, Defence Force, 1976 Phoenix among others, should be given respect and honour as shareholders, although being suspended. The clubs believe they should have been part of a decision that would impact on the monies that they are invested. Where is the financial statement of the organisation, and how much do we have in our accounts, and can we afford to spend that kind of money on former TTFA members. I think this is very unfair.”
Asked by Guardian Media Sports if as First vice president of Super League if he was part of the League's decision to give TTFA support to challenge FIFA decision to send a Normalisation Committee to fix T&T football? Riques said: "I learned of the league's decision via a newspapers article on March 24 and I learned of the decision to donate US$2000 to United TTFA to challenge FIFA in CAS via a TV Sports report."
Questioned further as to if the President's actions are a conflict of interest Riques replied, "I find the TTSL President, Keith Look Loy is operating like he has something to hide. Those actions call into question an abuse of power, because there is no transparency in the manner that those decisions were made, and here you are making announcements in the media about TTSL support. Who really knows how many clubs were For or Against these decisions? Where is the evidence? Where is the transparency? He wouldn't run it by me because he knows that I will ask the right questions. I think that the method utilized, without transparency was to manipulate the clubs."
TTSL’s membership of some 22 clubs has whittled down to 13 presently, due to issues of non-compliance, inability to pay registration fees, club drop-outs and a clause which leads to automatic suspension if clubs miss consecutive competitions in the League.
Rigues called for the names of the clubs that agreed to support the TTFA, to be put out to the public for all to see.
Guardian Media Sports sent three questions via WhatsApp to Super League president Look Loy regarding the questions and comments made by Rigues and some club officials, however, he read the message but up to press time he did not reply.
Meanwhile, Colin Murray, a member of TTSL’s board of directors said he knows for sure that letters of the request were sent out to the membership via email and WhatsApp, and he knows that about eight or nine clubs responded positively.
When contacted two of the clubs that heeded the call of the TTFA request were Erin FC and Prison FC. Prisons manager Ferdinand Bibby said, his club’s decision to support the former TTFA was to show the other clubs that the membership will be ready to support clubs that fall on hard times.