It is believed FIFA's intervention into local football through a Normalisation Committee, may or may not be a blessing in disguise.
The normalisation committee was implemented on March 17 by the world governing body for football, FIFA, after it felt the financial position of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) hinged on it being insolvent. Since then three out of five members of the committee were chosen, despite desperate calls to rescind the committee as the former TTFA executive decides to challenge FIFA through Court of Administration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland through attorneys Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle.
In a response to the implementation of the normalisation committee, three football coaches including Brian Williams, an former Strike Squad defender and national Under-20 coach, Shawn Cooper, a former national Under-17 coach who also led Presentation College (San Fernando) to its first Coca Cola National InterCol title last year, and Lyndon Andrews, a coach at Arima North Secondary, believe the committee could be a blessing, once it can turn T&T's football fortunes around.
Williams told Guardian Media Sports it is no secret that the sport has been struggling in all areas for some time now and something has to be done to revive it.
"The FIFA is the world governing body for the sport and if it feels that the sport here is not being run as it should be and they want to assist, then so be it," Williams explained.
He said that members of the public have been left in the dark concerning what has been taking place in the sport, saying one day you hear about the Home of Football being an income-generator, and the next thing, it cannot be used for the purpose that it was constructed for.
"I just want to see football being run the right way. I want to see coaches being allowed to coach and be paid for it. I want to see the huge TTFA debt liquidated completely, players allowed to play and the national teams competitive once more. Right now there is no motivation. There's no prize money for competition and players cannot make a living from plying their trade, etc."
Williams also sympathised with the William Wallace-led TTFA, noting that with only three months in office, it was very little that could have done.
Meanwhile, Andrews who has been one of this country’s creative midfielders from the youth to senior levels, made it clear a normalisation committee in T&T football was needed a long time now, even in the Jack Warner days.
"Unfortunately, the committee came during the Wallace-led administration, but it was needed in David John-Williams, Raymond Tim Kee and in the times of Jack Warner because for all those times our football had been in the red. It is necessary now because our football has been going backwards. We need our football to move forward again and I believe the normalisation committee will put us on that path,” Andrews said.
“When John-Williams came in, everyone thought he would have rescued us by clearing the debt but instead our football sunk further into debt. Now while Wallace team may have ideas, we are not sure. What is important for us now is to ensure that our football gets back on track.”
In February officials of the FIFA and CONCACAF visited the TTFA on a fact-finding mission which including examing the TTFA books to determine what plans to implement going forward to eradicate the claimed $50 million debt. And soon after it (FIFA) confirmed this in a letter, by stating further that the TTFA appeared to be facing insolvency.
Meanwhile, Cooper, who was overlooked for a coaching position under the former president Wallace said the implementation of the committee was inevitable.
"It is sad we cannot run our affairs but it was always incoming. We have had a problem with our debt, not only now but under Jack Warner, Raymond Tim Kee, David John-Williams and now William Wallace. Some people believe the committee should have come before. However, once it can ensure that crowds would come out at the Pro League matches or if the debt will be paid or if clubs will be self-sustainable at the end of the two years then it will be worth the while," Cooper said.
The FIFA normalisation committee is led by businessman Robert Hadad as chairman with attorney Judy Daniel and deputy chairman and retired banker Nigel Ramano as member.
Meanwhile, Wallace, the former president of the Secondary School League (SSFL) is calling on the nation to support he and his elected vice presidents to challenge the world governing body for the sport of football - FIFA through the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, via a ‘go fund me’ campaign which was launched on Monday.
The campaign will require members of the public to contribute generously towards fighting the cause of injustice against FIFA, through the website (https://www.gofundme.com/f/TTFAFights). Wallace together with vice presidents — Clynt Taylor, Joseph Sam Phillip and Susan Joseph-Warrick will be represented by sports attorneys Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew GW Gayle. The legal cost is estimated to be around TT$300,000 to $500,000. The deadline for the challenge to be registered is April 7.