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Tue, Jan

Wallace: Enough time for Fenwick to prepare.
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WILLIAM Wallace, ousted president of the TT Football Association (TTFA) is not worried over the inactivity of the national men’s football team.

The national squad last played an international match on November 17, 2019, when they suffered a 4-0 trouncing by hosts Honduras in the Concacaf Nations League.

Terry Fenwick, who replaced Dennis Lawrence as T&T men’s coach in January, is yet to guide T&T in an official match, due to the coronavirus pandemic and FIFA’s suspension of the TTFA, which lasted from September 24 to November 19.

FIFA suspended the TTFA after Wallace and his former executive challenged the global governing body’s decision at the local courts, instead of the Switzerland-based CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) to remove them, on March 17, and implement a normalisation committee, headed by Robert Hadad.

FIFA’s decision to remove the TTFA executive was due to the $50 million debt accumulated by the local body.

The suspension was lifted after last week’s FIFA window, and the next FIFA window is carded for March 2021, which is the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualification Concacaf First Round.

During an interview on Monday, Wallace was asked if the FIFA ban may have robbed T&T of the likelihood of friendly internationals in October and November.

He replied, “Even with the suspension lifted at this point in time, I think that the coach has enough time to prepare a team for football competition. I believe there is enough time between now and when we have to play.”

Wallace and his executive (vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip) took office on November 24, 2019.

The group, who campaigned under the United TTFA banner, only had less than four months at the helm before the normalisation committee (comprising Hadad, Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano) took over.

Wallace, the former Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president, was asked if he will like to return to local football administration when the normalisation committee’s two-year term ends in March 2022.

“At this point in time, no,” he responded. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Wallace elaborated, “A major issue right now in T&T football is the debt. When I (decided) to accept the position to run (for) TTFA president, there was a plan in place to deal with that. If that was the least I could have done for T&T football, was to be able to do (my best) to pay that debt. I would have walked away at the end of that. There is no real reason for me to get back into football.”

Looking back at his executive’s legal challenge against FIFA, Wallace said, “We think we did the right thing. We indicated that whatever the outcome is, we would abide by it and that is what we are doing. I will always keep a keen interest in what is going on in football in T&T.”

However, Wallace confirmed that he is yet to contact Hadad to extend good wishes, as the normalisation committee deals with the off-field issues of T&T football.

“I haven’t (contacted Hadad),” said Wallace. “I always said that I never supported the appointment of the normalisation committee and I would not support it in any way. That is FIFA’s decision and that’s it.

“T&T football will always be my primary concern. I wish the committee all the best.”

Tuesday will make it a year since his election as TTFA president. Does Wallace have any regrets over challenging the incumbent David John-Williams for the presidency?

“I would have preferred that if FIFA had any intentions of putting up a normalisation committee in place, that information should have been given to the TT Football Association before the elections,” Wallace said. “Therefore, there may not have even been an election, or if persons had decided to run for election they would have known that was coming. They allowed an election to take place. That was an unfortunate thing.

Asked if he thinks that the normalisation committee would have been implemented if John-Williams had retained office, Wallace replied, “I would reserve my answer on that.”

He continued, “Before the election, we heard that a normalisation committee would be coming in and our joy would be short-lived. If was said that if we won the election, the normalisation committee would have been coming in, it also implies that if we didn’t, then they would not have come in.”

Reflecting on his year-long experience after winning the TTFA presidential election, Wallace said, “Right now, politics is more important than football. For me, that is unfortunate.”