Sunday 8 December, 2019

Financial woes end T&T’s Olympic football dreams

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) will not field a team for the 2019 CONCACAF Men’s U23 Olympic qualifiers due to financial difficulties.

In addition, the local football organising body has made the decision to “focus its resources on other competitions for the rest of 2019.”

However, the TTFA is still committed to opening its “Home of Football Project” later in 2019 at Couva.

“The financial difficulties of the FA have been no secret to the public with a debt of over $5 million USD and most recently, the freezing of the bank accounts,” stated TTFA General Secretary Camara David in the release.

He added, “Despite these turmoil times, the TTFA with the support of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has managed to successfully field teams in all of the competitions thus far for the 2019 Competitions calendar.”

David said with limited funding available for the TTFA’s 11 national teams, the organisation has decided to “prioritise which tournaments are a must to participate in.”

The TTFA General Secretary added that the CONCACAF Men’s U23 Olympic tournament has been the most difficult competition to qualify for, with only a maximum of two countries from the region qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

David stated the TTFA felt it was “unfair to the Republic” to send an under-prepared team to compete in the CONCACAF U23 qualifiers.

To allay concerns about possible sanctions for Trinidad and Tobago’ non-participation in the Olympic qualifiers, David said that FIFA Statutes stipulate that, “Member Associations are mandated to participate in a maximum of TWO competitions for a period of four consecutive years to keep its FIFA membership status.”

The TTFA General Secretary also opined that the organisation has been “biting off more than it can possibly chew” in the past 15 years by competing in all possible CONCACAF tournaments.

The TTFA named eight tournaments which it has pledged funds towards including the 2019 Gold Cup, Nations League, Women’s Olympic qualifiers and other age-group tournaments.

As for the Home for Football project, David explained the reason for the continuation of the venture in the face of declining financial fortunes.

“It must be noted that FIFA mandates all of its members to use its FIFA Forward monies to construct these facilities first, before it can be used for other activities,” stated the TTFA General Secretary.

The TTFA stated in March that the current administration under David John-Williams inherited a debt of over TT$30 million after the High Court in Trinidad and Tobago froze the organisation’s accounts due to the non-payment of 15 members and five staff members of the T&T Futsal team.

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