NORTH East Stars director of football Michael Awai says he was misrepresented in a recent newspaper article, which quoted him as saying the appointments of Keith Look Loy and Sam Phillip as members of the TT Football Association (TTFA) board of directors were done illegally.
On February 21, the Trinidad Guardian published an article, which read, "Michael Awai, Director of Football at TT Pro League campaigners North East Stars believes Keith Look Loy, President of the TT Super League was illegally appointed as a member of the Board of Directors of the TT Football Association.
"The outspoken Awai, equipped with a copy of the TTFA constitution pointed to the minutes of December 23, 2017, reconvened Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the office of the National Cycling Centre (NCC) in Balmain, Couva, at which Look Loy and Sam Phillip, the former TT Pro League chairman was appointed to the Board."
Since the publication of the article, Phillip called on Awai to apologise for the accusations made in the article and to correct that.
Phillip said, “I am asking Mr Awai to correct that statement publicly, apologise to Mr Look Loy and myself by correcting that statement. He is wrong. He is misleading the football public. I want to remind Mr Awai – you see that word illegally – I don’t involve myself in anything illegal.”
Phillip said Saturday he intends to sue Awai for defamation since he failed to apologise in a timely manner.
Awai was reached by Newsday yesterday and said his comments to the Guardian reporter were misconstrued. Awai said he was not contacted by the reporter for direct comments but was quoted solely from an e-mail, in which the word "illegal" was never used. Awai said he had e-mailed the newspaper asking for the information to be corrected "so that the proper context would be established going forward."
He said yesterday, "I was just asking questions (in the e-mail). If what I said was incorrect, then fine." Awai provided Newsday a copy of the original e-mail from which he was quoted.
In the e-mail to football stakeholders, Awai wrote: "I have had the opportunity to review the minutes of the reconvened AGM of the TTFA of 23rd December 2017 held at the National Cycling Velodrome in Balmain Couva. I wish to point you to several items which will reveal that certain actions and decisions taken at that meeting were ultra-virus (sic) and unconstitutional."
He challenged decisions made at a reconvened TTFA meeting, wrongly citing a lack of quorum for his interpretation of the supposed breach. He, however, did not explicitly say "illegal" in the email provided.
"I'm just asking questions," he said.
In response to Phillip's threat of a lawsuit, Awai said, "Well he can sue if he wants, but I know what I said and the documents are there."
Phillip, during a telephone interview on Saturday, said, “In life you have a minimum of two choices, either you do something or you don’t do it. I’m using my second choice of option.
“I first asked Mr Awai to apologise and, up till this time, he has not done so. I responded within 24 hours after his article. I’m using my second option which is to seek legal advice on this matter.
Phillip said he held talks with his lawyers and will be seeking legal action this week.
He added, “I also noticed that the TTFA (TT Football Association) has been silent on this issue, moreso the vice-president Mr Ewing Davis who had chaired that meeting.”
Asked if he will give Awai more time to apologise, Phillip replied, “I’m not giving him any more time. I’m seeking legal advice at this time to proceed with a legal matter of defamation of character.”
The former Joe Public FC manager said, “Over the last four decades, in my tenure of employment, my character was never questioned. I have worked in a number of sensitive areas (in security). My character has never been blemished. Nobody has ever asked me to resign. If I did resign, it was on my own will.”