Sat, Dec

Wallace's team picks Hovell for FIFA dispute.

Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew GW Gayle, the lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), have proposed that Mark Hovell the highly experienced sports lawyer from Manchester, England, be the sole arbitrator in their case against football’s world governing body FIFA.

Hovell is a highly experienced sports lawyer and insolvency practitioner who specialises in regulatory, governance, commercial and financial matters, across all sports, both in the UK and across the world.

Additionally, he sits regularly as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland and The FA’s regulatory commissions.

FIFA has until April 14 to submit their comments regarding the request – whether they agree to a sole arbitrator deciding matters and Hovell’s appointment.

CAS appeals cost about $20,000 with the appellant’s legal costs generally doubling that amount. The filed appeal by former president Wallace and his three vice presidents Clynt Taylor, Joseph 'Sam' Phillip and Susan Joseph-Warrick, requests a sole arbitrator that, depending on the case, would reduce fees to $10,000 and expedite the process. Currently, the appellants have paid the first CHF 1,000 to file the appeal, quite where they will get the rest required to proceed is unclear.

In a video statement on Wednesday on their crowdsourcing ‘gofundme’ page, Wallace maintains that he is still in charge of the TTFA, saying: “To be clear I remain president of TTFA based on our constitution… I can only be removed by the operation of the TTFA’s constitution, not by FIFA.”

However, Wallace and his team have raised part of the money fund via the fundraising page showed no movement from Wednesday's total contribution which was at $3,155 up to press time and it was at the same amount up to press time again yesterday. The last contribution of US$50 was made on Monday. The target by Wallace's team is TT$300,000 to $500,000 or the estimated US$25,000 for the CAS appeal.

One of those that have donated is Keith Look Loy, the TTFA’s former technical committee chair under the Wallace administration, who paid in $200. Look Loy is the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League, who has said that the league’s clubs have agreed on a donation of $2,000.

A supporter Elvin Edwards has made the single biggest contribution of US$1,000 with Wallace contributing the second largest amount of US$500.

On March 17, FIFA wrote to the TTFA advising them that they were appointing a normalisation committee to take over the running of the heavily indebted association. However, despite protests from the executive because such a move would be in breach of the TTFA constitution, FIFA proceeded to name members of the committee on March 26.

The action prompted the attorneys to file an appeal to set aside FIFA’s decision before the CAS on Monday, April 6.

On Wednesday, CAS acknowledged receipt of the appeal and issued a case number CAS2020/A/6915.

Wallace and his team also pointed to the Court that: Due to the implications of this matter, and the importance of football to Trinidad and Tobago (and the wider Caribbean region generally), the Appellants request a hearing of this appeal on an expedited basis.

a. To the extent that the CAS’ Emergency Guidelines are not extended and to the extent that the ban on international flights entering Trinidad and Tobago is lifted on/by June 1, 2020, the Appellants ask that the matter be heard in-person in Trinidad & Tobago at the earliest point thereafter. Indeed, as the Appellants and most (if not all) of the relevant witnesses, all reside within Trinidad & Tobago, the balance of convenience tips in favour of that location in our respectful view.

b. In the alternative, and if the CAS’ Emergency Guidelines and the current ban on flights entering Trinidad & Tobago are both extended beyond June 1st, 2020, the Appellants respectfully request that the matter be heard by video-conferencing means.

c. Nonetheless, whether through video-conferencing or in-person, the Appellants ask that the hearing be open to the public.

The lawyers now have until April 17, 10 days from when the appeal was due to be filed, which was Tuesday, April 7. Should they fail to do so. CAS will deem the appeal withdrawn.

FIFA then has 20 days to respond to the filed brief. They would be expected to do so by early May.

CAS has also invited the TTFA lawyers to consider the possibility of mediation.

According to a Sportsmax Antonio De Quesada, Head of Arbitration at CAS stated: “I take this opportunity to draw the Parties’ attention to the possibility of submitting this dispute to CAS mediation, which would not prejudice the Parties’ rights to subsequently re-submit the dispute to arbitration, should the dispute remain unresolved at the conclusion of the mediation procedure. A successful mediation procedure would result in a binding settlement, the terms of which have been agreed upon by both Parties.”

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