Wed, Jun

Minister Cudjoe: The future of athletes at stake.

It was a show of total support for the future of T&T football yesterday at a Zoom meeting called by Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe, as the sport's entire membership, with the exception of United T&T Football Association (TTFA) members William Wallace, Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Philip, said they were not in support of the country being sanctioned by FIFA, the sport's governing body.

Cudjoe said in spite of repeated calls to Wallace's phone on Thursday to get his involvement, they received no response which was unfortunate. Wallace has been at the forefront of a battle with FIFA, to overturn a decision to appoint a Normalisation Committee to manage local football, back in March 27.

But after Justice Carol Gobin gave the ousted members a first-round victory on August 13 by ruling that the High Court in T&T will be the jurisdiction to settle the dispute, FIFA's secretary general Fatma Samoura, delivered a stern letter on Wednesday, warning the United TTFA if it did not comply with the organisation's Statutes, the country faced severe sanctions that could see all its national teams out of all FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, such as World Cup qualifiers, Club Championships, CONCACAF tournaments, etc.

Cudjoe reminded the stakeholders that there were far-reaching implications to come from a FIFA ban, that was more important than the cause being fought by the quartet who was removed from office on March 17 after claiming victory in the TTFA elections in November, last year.

The minister said the future of the athletes was at stake, noting that we cannot afford to shatter the dreams of many young men and women who may be carving out a life in the sport, also reminding the stakeholders that the real power lies in the hands of the general membership.

“This is more than proving a point, but rather what it would mean for the young people who are dependent on the sport. I was surprised that everyone here was not in support of Wallace and his team, but rather the normalisation committee, so now they are going to rally their troops,” said Minister Cudjoe.

It is understood that a petition is being circulated with an aim of getting signatures of the membership to stop the court battle of the Wallace team. The petition, Guardian Media Sports learnt is also set to receive the signature of the Women's Football League (WoLF), whose president Joseph-Warrick, is a vice president.

Cudjoe also revealed that should the country get banned by FIFA, the government would not put out as much of tax-payers money to fund it, as she made a stark difference to the country's pursuit of World Cup glory to anything else.

She also said it would be unfair for tax-payers funds to be put towards a football entity that is burdened by debt, and refuses FIFA financial help through the normalisation committee.


TTFA - Oh the drama!
By Colin Murray (Guardian).

Turning my attention to the ongoing saga between the United TTFA (T&T Football Association) and FIFA, I must admit I am caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Now, don’t for one moment think I don’t support the action taken by the United TTFA. I have always written that what FIFA did was high-handed and a total injustice to the renowned democratic society of T&T. The proper thing to do was to try and work with the TTFA executive and get them out of the hole that they were put into by former executives who should have no place in football in this country now and in the future.

Madam Justice Carol Gobin’s judgement in the High Court was profound. She did not accept many of FIFA’s claims inter alia the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was the only jurisdiction to hear the case. The TTFA is enacted by an Act of Parliament and as such, T&T’s laws do in fact have merit. Based on the fact that FIFA lost its first legal hurdle against the United TTFA, the body has gone into panic mode.

FIFA will no longer have it’s way and cannot bully their way around this and since they may lose, the reality has hit home that T&T may be banned from all international football. If we are indeed banned, it will undoubtedly stifle the growth of many young footballers in the country and no right thinking patriot will wish that on our youths and some of our senior footballers, some of whom may have one final opportunity to qualify for the Gold and World Cups.

So, what can we do? I note the Commissioner of Police (CoP) is calling for mediation and while I am in complete agreement with him, when it comes to the almighty FIFA, there is no negotiation as it must be their way. Can the CoP get FIFA to change their minds and sit with a team of individuals in this country and plot an amicable way forward?

The United TTFA has called for dialogue on at least six occasions and have not had a response from FIFA. I understand the clubs are seeking a resolution to FIFA to not recognise the United TTFA. If that occurs, who are we to recognise? The normalisation committee that has and continues to do nothing?

I am all for trying to get FIFA to sit around a table but that’s just not their style. They are like a bunch of rogue politicians who cannot deal with some noisy, dissenting citizens and rather than try to understand the problem and explore ways to solve it, they take the easy way out and threaten to imprison them. How archaic, misguided and undemocratic. That being said, I suppose there is someone smiling through this all. Your guess as to who that person may be is as good as mine.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of any organisation of which he is a stakeholder.