NOW THAT the plight of the family of former president of the then Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) — now TT Football Association (TTFA) — Oliver Camps has been brought to the attention of the public and to the powers that be, the matter must be looked into comprehensively and urgently with a view to some sort of resolution.
Indeed, it should not have been necessary for Camps’ daughter Sandra to resort to penning a letter to the editor — which was published yesterday — on this matter. But clearly a series of circumstances and ill-fortune have befallen “Ollie”, many of which relate to matters far beyond his remit and which fly in the face of the decades of service he has given to his country and its football community.
We are not aware of the finer details of the legal dispute which has brought about the current state of affairs. However, according to Sandra, her father faces the loss of his home due to a hefty US$592,475.22 bill (TT$3.7 million) which was left unpaid in an arrangement between the TTFA and former national coach Wilhelmus Rijsbergen. We are not clear of the exact contractual nature of this matter or how Ollie came to be personally liable for a debt which appears to have been incurred by the TTFA in the wake of this country’s first appearance at the World Cup, but based on Sandra’s letter it is clear that a court matter was brought and a determination reached, leaving Ollie financially liable.
What is also clear is an apparent representation from the TTFA committing in a letter dated November 2015 that it will act, “in collaboration with the Government,” to settle the debt by December 14, 2015. Unfortunately, this promise has not been met and a court hearing is due on January 21 in the case.
Sandra summed up the situation thus: “That he is in this position as a result of his love of and involvement in football is a tragedy.” The world of football has, in recent years, been rocked. Both locally and internationally, corruption and mismanagement scandals have eroded “the beautiful game”. Though the sport has united this nation and has the potential to transform and give hope, unfortunately its more noble possibilities have been obscured by turmoil involving FIFA and our very own Jack Warner. The events post-2006 alone were damaging enough to the game.
If football is to recover, then the work of people such as Ollie must be appreciated and commemorated.
Those who have sincerely worked hard and sacrificed to build a sport which provides much benefit to our society should not be treated poorly. If only to honour that value, the State must — whatever the specifics of this case — look into the fine details of this matter. While many questions have been raised about football corruption, it is manifestly unfair for a senior football official who has never been indicted in relation to any such matter to be punished, whomever his friends and colleagues may have been in the past.
Whatever Camps’ responsibilities, fiduciary or otherwise, to the TTFA, 42 years of service to the game of football, and by extension to the country, should not be cavalierly ignored. If Camps has, in fact, erred, let him take responsibility for specific actions for which he was responsible. However, in a situation where the TTFA has already committed to intervene, it seems unfair for it to now turn its back, assuming it was right to offer relief in the first place. The court’s orders in this matter must, one way or the other, be enforced.
But it is hoped the State will do what it can to restore confidence and live up to its word.