Tuesday 25 June, 2019

Cocoa in the sun: US Embassy claims TTFA at fault in visa matter

Chargé d'Affaires John McIntyre. Photo via US Embassy

Chargé d'Affaires John McIntyre. Photo via US Embassy

Blame for the issues encountered by the Trinidad and Tobago Girls Under-15 team in acquiring visas to attend the Concacaf Women’s Under-15 Championship in Florida rests squarely on the shoulders of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) President David John-Williams, according to a statement from the US Embassy.

Trinidad and Tobago was given a deadline of midday on Monday to sort out its travel issues but failed to do so, forcing Concacaf to withdraw its invitation to the team.

John-Williams claimed that the problems encountered in obtaining the visas for the team was a Caribbean-wide one, however, all other territories within the region secured visas for their teams for the tournament and are presently in the United States.

However, Chargé d'Affaires John McIntyre in an unprecedented statement on Friday contradicted the TTFA President’s story.

McIntyre, in responding to John-Williams’ “Red Card Commentary” said it was the TTFA President’s failure to plan that has prevented the promising footballers from playing in the USA.

He said John-Williams’ comments can adversely affect the US Embassy’s ongoing efforts to grow its sports diplomacy programmes locally.

McIntyre stated plainly that the Embassy was not to blame in any way for the TTFA’s inability to sure visas for the team.

“I will be blunt. Mr. Williams and the TTFA just flat out dropped the ball on the visa process.  Our Embassy for MONTHS noted that individuals and groups should plan well in advance for any trips to the USA. 

The Trinidad and Tobago Girls Under-15 representatives approached the Embassy about visas after we were closed on Tuesday, July 31 to get their visas by Friday, August 3 with the Emancipation holiday in between.”

The Chargé d'Affaires said no names or details about the visa applicants were provided and the process was far too rushed.

“Even after games were rescheduled, there was too little time allowed, just two working days for an established 7-10 day process, not to mention that this is peak visa season when most people have to wait six weeks just for a visa interview. 

Many groups have successfully traveled to the USA by being prepared and planning in advance. In fact, if you look at our Facebook page from a few weeks ago you will see a youth team playing in the USA at a major football (soccer) tourney.”

McIntyre advised citizens to ensure that they plan in advance for travel to the USA.

He ended by affirming the US Embassy’s commitment to its relationship with the citizens of T&T at all levels, including sports diplomacy, and signed off using a popular Trini saying.

“Don’t let folks with cocoa in the sun mislead you.”

The TTFA is on record as having said that they followed the same procedure they have done each year.

The Concacaf Girls’ Under-15 Championship kicked off on Monday with the participation of over 500 youth players from North, Central America and the Caribbean, as well as guest teams from other Confederations.


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