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Wed, May

Candidates prepare for TTFA elections.
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A new-look T&T football administration is on the horizon.

At least three persons are eagerly awaiting the election date of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) to be called now that approval of the constitution is completed.

Sunday’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the TTFA at which 33 of the 47 members present unanimously agreed to accept the amendments of the constitution, and also invoked the right of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee being led by businessman Robert Hadad, to call fresh elections and conclude their mandate to manage the local sporting discipline as handed down by the sport’s world governing body- FIFA, in March of 2020.

At present, the constitution gives the right for a 60-day notice-period for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which includes the election of an executive. This means that notice to members should be known today (January 31).

However, the members are concerned by one of the new amendments that would only allow people contesting the election to be part of a slate. Also, members can only vote for a slate and not for an office position as was in the past. The slate with the most votes will manage the sport for a four-year term.

It was one of many proposed amendments to the constitution that, though objected to, was still included by the Concacaf and FIFA. T&T’s constitutional expert Osmond Downer admitted the day before the EGM that some of the minor objections were changed while the major ones were not.

Still, the majority of the members voted in favour of, considering a promise that changes to the constitution could be made within only a few months of having a new administration.

Another major change of concern to the members was the increased number of votes—(two votes each)—given to T&T Premier League (TTPFL) clubs - Tier I (12 clubs) and Tier II (six clubs) which makes it 36 from a total of 57 votes.

Downer believes that it was over-empowering clubs that focused mainly on football and not the management of the sport.

The fact that the Hadad-led normalisation committee was left counting down the days of their stay in office, was scarcely a consideration, one member had said and pointed to the direction the sport needed to be heading in, rather than the leader.

Hadad, who led the normalisation committee and had now achieved most of its mandate, including clearing a massive debt and ensuring that football was operational.

But now he has to make way for one of three, either Selby Browne, the president of the Veterans Football Foundation of T&T, Keiron Edwards, president of the Eastern Football Association, and Dennis Latiff, the new Southern Football Association president who admitted he is now in the process of putting his slate together.

Colin Wharfe, the TTPFL chief executive officer, said that while he has been approached by quite a few persons to be a presidential candidate, his focus now is totally on the T&T Premier Football League which is into its first full season.

But before any candidate could be considered, each had to meet the criteria of another constitutional change. A nominee must be involved in the sport for the past eight years if he/she wants to contest the election to serve on the executive.

Before that, a time frame of two out of the last four years at a managerial position had to have been met to be eligible for election.

Edwards confirmed his interest in being the next TTFA president but clarified some of the key amendments,”It’s about where we are going more than who is leading. I think collectively, if the members come together and have a clear direction on the path we should go, we will be better off than studying who is the leader.”

He explained, “It’s no knock on Mr Hadad, but I think they would have done their job. Now, it’s time to have the mandate of the membership, in terms of charting the way forward, on a course that would benefit T&T football on the whole and not just finance, but both on and off the field.”

“I don’t see the elections being a problem, there are some new measures put in place, for example, 32 members within the set-up, and now they are requesting five members on a slate. So based on that, you can have six slates but when you start to be realistic, when you deal with the numbers you’re looking at only about three slates being able to contest the election. Those things would lend to some challenges,” Edwards explained.

He continued, “I don’t think it will impact fairness or the democratic process. There are pros and cons to it, but what I am saying is that members normally have the right to vote by positions, but FIFA would have stated why they wanted it done by slate. I don’t think it would affect anything.”

Edwards stated that, “If you watch the last four elections, wherever the president was elected then all other officers would have been elected in line with the president, so it is not something that is common to the TTFA election where everyone wouldn’t be voted in together. I think they were looking at saving time, they are protecting the group, but on a level of democracy, it is one that the members feel that they should be given the right to elect by office and not by slate, so I do understand the both positions.”

Former president William Wallace, who was removed by FIFA in March 2020 and installed the Normalisation Committee, objected to that change, saying by that alone he could not see himself returning to the administration of a sport where the governing body has been treating them with disdain.

Meanwhile, Browne said, “It is my view that the members must have a meeting before the election, to decide on a slate. At that meeting, if it is considered that there is someone better than me to be president, to restructure and develop the T&T football product, I will most definitely do what is in the best interest of the TTFA membership.