DOES William Wallace have the authority to challenge FIFA before the Trinidad and Tobago High Court?
This is one of the avenues attorneys representing football’s world governing body FIFA will explore in its appeal to Justice Carol Gobin’s August 13 decision giving “United TTFA”, represented by TTFA president William Wallace and his three vice-presidents, leave to challenge their March 2020 dismissal and FIFA’s appointment of a normalisation committee to run Trinidad and Tobago football.
On Thursday, FIFA filed notice of appeal in a 34-page document. Representing FIFA are attorneys Christopher Hamel-Smith, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie of Port of Spain law firm, M. Hamel-Smith & Co. New City law firm attorneys Mathew GW Gayle, Dr Emir Crowne, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul represent United TTFA.
Among things FIFA is seeking is that Justice Carol Gobin’s verdict be rendered null and that TTFA’s case be dismissed or alternatively, proceedings be stayed. In the absence of both, FIFA sought an extension of 28 days after determination of the appeal in order to begin a defence. FIFA representatives also applied to have its legal costs paid by Wallace’s party.
The world governing body maintains a stance that Wallace had been stripped of all power.
“The learned judge erred by failing to hold that the president of the respondent (TTFA) did not have the authority under the respondent’s constitution to commence these proceedings,” FIFA’S appeal stated. “FIFA contends that the effect of the appointment of the normalisation committee was to immediately and unceremoniously strip the duly elected Executive Board of Directors of its powers under TTFA’s constitution.”
In its appeal, FIFA points out that the nature of the relationship between FIFA and the TTFA is contractual. The legal framework for FIFA’s relationship with its member associations is set out in its statutes, regulations, directives and decisions of FIFA (as well as Swiss Law).
The FIFA Statutes are FIFA’s constitution and they set out the terms and conditions of each individual association’s membership. Therefore, by joining the world body, FIFA said, the TTFA agreed wholly to abide by its dictates.
“TTFA has since 1964 (prior to incorporation) been a member of FIFA as the association that represents Trinidad and Tobago. It is this membership that entitles Trinidad and Tobago to participate in international tournaments and matches against the national teams of other member associations of FIFA.”
Further, FIFA in its appeal maintains that its contract with the TTFA is binding.
“The learned judge erred in law by failing to give effect to the binding agreement between the appellant (FIFA) and the respondent (TTFA) as contained in the FIFA Statutes that precluded the commencement of these proceedings before the ordinary courts in this jurisdiction.”
FIFA will also challenge other aspects of Justice Gobin’s verdict.