Preserve egos, kill local football


THE great English writer Charles Dickens in his book

Oliver Twist, said the ‘…the law is a a** – a idiot’. This is not illustrative of what transpired in the courts of Trinidad & Tobago regarding the T&T Football Association (TTFA) nor an indictment on the learned High Court Judge’s ruling on the matter between Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and the TTFA but rather an illustration of what occurs when egos overwhelm common sense and refuge is sought in the courts.

Theoretically, the constitution of Trinidadand Tobago is the supreme law of the land and no other entity, including FIFA should believe its law is superior. However, whilst it may be construed that FIFA is trying to subvert the constitution, it is the world-governing body responsible for football and has very considerable influence over this game regardless of country, its size or status.

Regardless of the intentions of FIFA, not only does it provide financial resources to support local football, which has been in debt, from ‘time immemorial’ it seems but it provides a world stage for our footballers to showcase their talents in competition with other worldranked teams. Having ‘won the battle’ but seem certain to ‘lose the war’, how will the TTFA survive? How will local football survive, having faced continuous financial obstacles over the years, made worse by FIFA potentially banning T&T from all FIFA-sanctioned competitions? Would local football be relegated to only competitions amongst local clubs? How will these games be funded with the very real lack of attendance by the population? Does this not spell the death of local football? Of what value then would there be need for a TTFA?

The High Court has ruled. However, notwithstanding the learned Judge’s utterances regarding the potential impact that the ruling will have on local football, one would have expected that having ruled on the constitutionality of the case, common sense would have jumped to the defence of said ruling and demanded alternate dispute resolution in the interests of preserving Trinidad and Tobago’s football. This can still occur if egos are relegated to the sidelines.

As a leader, one has to take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates, whether they communicate with him or not. Taking responsibility when things go wrong is a key quality of leadership because it builds trust, confidence and earns self-respect from others, especially the team. Without these, team members ‘do their own thing’, as there is no defined focus. How can there be buy-in to local football when there really is no proper leadership of it?

It is not too late for the TTFA to acknowledge its principled and constitutional win, step down from all positions and revert to FIFA through dispute resolution because FIFA acted ‘high and mighty’ when it removed the duly-elected TTFA leadership and appointed a Normalisation Committee, without proper dialogue and worse yet, after the leadership was elected. Such a principled stand by TTFA will allow FIFA to preserve local football, regardless of its ‘forced errors.’

Will TTFA be the ‘mouse that roared’ against the FIFA giant and put the nails in local football’s coffin? Or, will unbelievable egos bow to common sense in the interests of local football?

Harjoon Heeralal