Sat, Mar


Disappointed by what they considered to be an unjust, unfair and disrespectful act by the world governing body for football (FIFA), the T&T Football Association under the leadership of William Wallace has turned to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to overturn a decision by FIFA, which on Tuesday appointed a Normalisation Committee to run the affairs of T&T football.

The TTFA has retained the services of attorneys Dr Emir Crowne and Mathew Gayle two prominenent sports lawyers.

Ramesh Ramdhan, general secretary of the embattled football association, revealed on Wednesday that their attorneys would be writing to the FIFA to begin their fight against the decision.

"We took a while to get over the shock, it was total disbelief. Since then we have pooled our resources together and have decided that this is injustice, it is disrespect, it shows some political play going on here to protect, I don't know who, but clearly, this is unprecedented when you look at what those committees are set up to do. It is in cases of political interference, political turmoil, democratic processes such as elections. Our elections were supervised by the FIFA and CONCACAF, so there were no issues with the elections, but now they are saying because of the same financial deficiency that we pointed out to them when they were here, they are now using that as a reason, but we have gone beyond that, we have put things in place."

"What we are doing now, is using the same thing that they sent and petitioning the court of arbitration for sports to deal with this matter. Because to not do that, will be to allow injustice to prevail," Ramdhan explained.

In a letter dated March 17 to the TTFA general secretary Ramdhan FIFA wrote: Under these serious circumstances, and in accordance with article 8 paragraph 2 of the Fifa statutes (which foresees that executive bodies of member associations may, under exceptional circumstances, be removed from office by the Fifa Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time), the Bureau of the Council decided, on 17 March 2020, to appoint a normalisation committee for the TTFA.

On receiving the news on Tuesday President William Wallace told Andre Errol Baptiste on iSports on i95.5fm radio programme that: "We are not going to roll over and die."

According to the local football boss “There is still hope, we have written to FIFA and we are awaiting a response and we will take it from there. When Fifa arrived, we gave them a report from our finance professionals detailing what structures and areas need to be addressed in a report form and they told us great, that was half of their work done so now to read these statements on the financial structure, it's strange. Also, as it relates to the debt, we gave the team an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with one of our partners on how we planned to address the debt issue and as I have stated we will clear the debt in two years. So what I am saying, if they had questions on the documents, we presented, they could have called us to discuss, that is all and ask for more proof."

Wallace said he is also awaiting a response from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) in light of what had transpired.

"Incidentally, I got a call from the president of the Union - Randy Harris, and he asked about the account being frozen and I mentioned how it was a court matter and we are working on it. He told me that 'T&T is very important to the Caribbean in football so we cannot allow FIFA to send a Normalisation Committee." and that 'Whatever support we can help with at the CFU, we will'. But of course, they do not have much funds but he also stated that when our conversation was finished he was going to call CONCACAF," said Wallace.

Word of the normalisation committee had both men taken aback, particularly as it is felt the FIFA was contradicting its policy. According to Ramdhan "In summing up the visit by the FIFA/CONCACAF team over the days of activities here, they were quite pleased. As a matter of fact, they commended us for taking certain measures to rectify the financial issues we faced, and we had already done a paper to take to the Board for approval, therefore this decision runs contrary to what we were told."

Ramdhan said his association was not informed of the decision and had to get it from the website.

The FIFA correspondance continued: 'The specified period of time during which the normalisation committee will perform its functions will expire as soon as it has fulfilled all of its assigned tasks, but no later than 24 months after its members have been officially appointed by the FIFA administration. The exact date for the normalisation committee to complete its mandate will be communicated by the Fifa administration once its members have been appointed.

In the interim and before the normalisation committee is fully operational, the TTFA administration’s management will be supervised by Mr Tyril Patrick, who will directly report to Fifa. The TTFA administration—in its entirety—will therefore report to Mr Patrick until the normalisation committee has been put in place.'

SOURCE: T&T Guardian