Sun, Nov

TTFA Act of Parliament vs FIFA statutes.

Since FIFA's decision on March 17 to replace president William Wallace and his three vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip as the executive of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) with a normalisation committee, lawyers representing the quartet have stated that only the TTFA constitution can remove them from an elected office, which is bound by an Act of Parliament (The Act 17 of 1982 which be cited as The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (Incorporation) Act, 1982).

In a video statement on April 1, on the former executive's crowdsourcing "gofundme" page, Wallace maintained 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.”

Wallace's lawyers Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne have pointed to that fact in letters dated March 20, 2020, addressed to Tyril Patrick and another from Wallace himself on April 16 to Stuart Young (MP) and Minister of National Security of T&T.

However, the sub item 3 of the Act states that the objectives of the TTFA:

The aims and objects of the Association are: (a) to regulate and control the conduct of Football in Trinidad and Tobago (under the Federation Internationale de Football Association system) and to provide playing fields and conveniences in connection therewith;

Accordingly, Article 2 (e) objectives of the TTFA constitution states: (e) to respect and prevent any infringement of the statutes, regulations, directives, and decisions of FIFA, CONCACAF, CFU, and TTFA as well as the Laws of the Game, and to ensure that these are also respected by its Members;

Continuing, Act item 4 states: The affairs of the Association shall be managed by a General Council whose election powers and procedures shall be as prescribed in the Constitution and Rules of the Association.

Article 7 Conduct of Bodies and Officials of the TTFA Constitution states:  The bodies and Officials of TTFA must observe the statutes, regulations, directives, decisions, and the Code of Ethics of FIFA, CONCACAF, CFU and TTFA in their activities.

Attorney at Law Peter Taylor told Guardian Media Sports on Sunday, "So the Act 17 of 1982 effectively and formally clothed or incorporated the TTFA as a body corporate. An entity becomes a body corporate either by registering a company. So, for example, Happy Construction Limited becomes a body corporate with a legal personality by virtue of registering in accordance with the Companies Act and a minimum of two directors, a registered address, a secretary, etc.

"A body corporate can also be established, as in the case of the TTFA, by an Act of Parliament, hence we have Act 17 of 1982. So a body corporate is really any company or entity that has a distinct legal personality," said the former Minister of Legal Affairs.

"Any sporting body that receives government funding is answerable to the Parliament via its Line Minister, accounting officer, ie permanent secretary and/or the Sport Company and can be called to give an account of its stewardship."

He also pointed to items 4, 5 and 6 of the Act which speaks about the administration of the TTFA.

On Friday, businessman and former club owner Arthur Suite wrote in a daily newspaper: "Sorry, Mr William Wallace. I have tried very hard but have failed to come up with a reason that I can support your actions to oppose FIFA's appointment of a 'normalisation committee'.

"Your fight is not against FIFA but the state of the bankrupt TTFA that you inherited.

"Noting that the Act of Parliament granted the TTFA the right to regulate and control football in the country under FIFA, he argued that in so doing, it surrendered all the TTFA's rights to the world body."

Kenneth Butcher, a former Parliamentary Secretary for Sport in the NAR government in 1986 and a very active member in football, cricket and netball which is also enacted by an Act of Parliament, said that his understanding is that an Act of Parliament allows a sporting organisation to operate and function as a business entity and submit its annual audited financial statements to the Ministry of Sports for oversight.  

Alvin Corneal, a former national footballer player and coach, who served as a former member of the 1972 Commission of Inquiry of Cricket for T&T under the chairmanship of Justice Evan Reese said, "I am very sympathetic with William Wallace and the TTFA but the TTFA constitution gives FIFA a right to act. The question is... is it justified? That's the concern."  

On March 17, FIFA advised the TTFA that it is appointing a normalisation committee to take over the running of the heavily indebted association. However, despite protests from the executive, FIFA proceeded to name three members of the committee on March 27 including businessman Robert Hadad as the chairman, attorney Judy Daniel was named deputy chairman and retired banker Nigel Romano as a member.

In FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura's letter to TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan, she pointed to article 8 paragraph 2 of the FIFA statutes as it outlined FIFA's concerns about the financial status of the TTFA. FIFA said its fact-finding mission (February 25-27) found, among other concerns, that the “overall condition of financial management and financial governance extremely low or non-existent at the TTFA".

 FIFA stated there is a lack of documented policies and procedures, financial planning and management of statutory liabilities adding that there's no short or long-term plan to address the “urgent” situation as the current debt is US$5.5m (TT$37.4 million), the TTFA “faces a very real risk of both insolvency and illiquidity if corrective measures are not applied urgently.”

As such, the normalisation committee has been mandated to run the daily affairs of the TTFA, establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA as well as review and amend the TTFA statutes and ensure their compliance with FIFA statutes and requires before submitting them to the TTFA Congress for approval. The committee will also organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive for a four-year term.