KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The poisoned legacy of Jack Warner’s reign as lord of misrule continues to haunt Caribbean football, the Trinidad & Tobago FA, CONCACAF and FIFA.

Ousted officials of the TTFA want the Court of Arbitration for Sport to nullify the imposition of a normalisation committee by the world governing body.

Their removal has been described as a piece of “mischief” perceived as “politically motivated and a naked attempt to reinstate the former regime” which had been voted out of office only last November.

Warner: Former FIFA and CONCACAF powerbroker

Trinidad has been a thorn in FIFA flesh ever since the reign of Warner who was banned from football for life in 2015 after two inglorious, corruption-packed decades at the helm of the central and north American confederation CONCACAF.

Warner’s role as an influential powerbroker in the world game owed everything to his control of 30-plus CONCACAF votes which earned him, in return, carte blanche in his own region from former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Extradition fight

For the past four years Warner has been resisting an extradition application from the United States authorities arising out of the FIFAGate corruption investigation. The 77-year-old is on is on $2.5m bail while denying multiple charges. Sons Daryan and Daryl are already awaiting sentence in the US.

Football’s extensive charge sheet against Warner ranged from ticket-twisting to vote-rigging and rights profiteering. Clearing up the mess in Trinidad alone has proved complex, not least because many old associates in sport, politics and business remained in place.

The extent of Warner’s financial misrule was revealed in a court action by the players who took the national team to the World Cup finals for the first and only time in 2006. Ultimately the Trindad & Tobago Football Federation collapsed to be succeeded by a newly-constituted Trinidad & Tobago Football Association.

That did not end the strife. This continued, up to and including last November’s election when David John-Williams was ousted as president by William Wallace, head of the secondary schools association who headed a reformist group calling itself TTFA United.

The extent of the TTFA’s financial problems were laid bare by Wallace after his first 100 days. He told a media briefing: “Debt is now TT$50 million and counting. We have no money to pay staff. National insurance and income taxes have not been paid since November 2017.

“We have travel agencies owed $850,000. We have a loan from CONCACAF of US$600,000 from 2017 and interest of $2,500 monthly; $600,000 and interest of $63,000 is still outstanding. We have 29 bounced checks totalling TT$345,000.”

Training centre opening

Wallace’s rescue proposals did not satisfy CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani who took his concern to FIFA supremo Gianni Infantino. They were no strangers to Trinidad & Tobago: earlier last year both had been among VIP guests of John-Williams at the opening of a Home of Football training centre.

FIFA and CONCACAF duly sent in a fact-finding mission which led to the removal of Wallace and notice of intent to impose the normalisation committee headed by local businessman Robert Hadad.

Its mandate is “to run the TTFA’S daily affairs; establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable; review and amend the TTFA statutes to ensure compliance with FIFA statutes and requirements; and organise and to conduct elections of a new executive committee for a four-year mandate.”

This infuriated Wallace who thought he had convinced FIFA that he had all these items in hand.

Shaka Hislop, World Cup goalkeeper in 2006 and a leading critic of the old guard, told local media that “FIFA, working in concert with members of the previous administration” had “erased” whatever progress had been made over the previous decade.

Initially FIFA – bafflingly – sought to place Tyril Patrick, the finance manager, in charge of the TTFA “until the normalisation committee has been put in place.”

Withheld payments

Patrick subsequently withdrew once FIFA understood his role in charge of the TTFA’s financial operation when it withheld social and tax revenues. According to Wallace, Patrick had been responsible for issuing cheques which he knew would bounce; 29 of them.

A key role in the process was played by Veron Mosengo-Omba, FIFA’s chief member associations officer. His role has been questioned because Wallace claimed he had repeatedly ignored warnings about the mismanagement of the Home of Football project and TTFA finances generally.

Ramesh Ramdhan, the TTFA’s general secretary, has told other members of the Caribbean Football Association in a letter that the imposition of the normalisation committee “is politically motivated and a naked attempt to reinstate the former regime.”

He added: “Caribbean colleagues, this is not about finance. It reeks of political mischief . . . We humbly ask that you join with us as one voice and strongly condemn this high-handed action by writing to FIFA and CONCACAF as we pursue justice from the CAS.”

Hadad’s normalisation committee includes banker Nigel Romano and environmental law specialist Judy Daniel. Two further members are yet to be appointed.