T&T's Constitutional expert Osmond Downer has come under fire for attempts to clear the air on the use of the constitution to prevent a four-member United T&T Football Association (TTFA) team of William Wallace, Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip from challenging FIFA's decision to appoint a Normalisation Committee to govern T&T football.
The United TTFA was removed as the duly elected executive on March 17, just three months after assuming office following the TTFA elections in November last year for what FIFA claimed as administrative flaws that would have plunge the sport into insolvency.
Wallace and his team have since challenged the decision by first going to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland where they complained of institutional bias, before taking their fight to the T&T High Court. The United TTFA later claimed a round-one victory when Justice Carol Gobin on August 13 ruled that the dispute could be heard in the T&T High Court, a direct violation of the FIFA Statutes which state that all grievances by Member Association are to be settled at CAS. FIFA has since appealed the judge's ruling on August 20.
Last Wednesday, FIFA, through its Secretary General Fatma Samoura wrote to Robert Hadad, chairman of the normalisation committee indicating that TTFA could face sanctions from FiFA, if Wallace and his team does not drop the matter from the T&T High Court by September 16 and accept CAS as the body to lodge their legal challenge.
The threat caused football's membership in T&T to take action to stop Wallace and company from continuing their court action against FIFA by attempting to have an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) to remove Wallace and his three vice-presidents as administrators of local football, as well as, lobby with the T&T court to drop the fight against FIFA.
But Downer, sought to make it clear that the membership could not remove the president and his executive, furthermore stop the court battle. He also said in his letter that FIFA Congress on September 18, did not have on its Agenda, the suspension or expulsion of any member association, a comment which was dismissed by Randy Harris, the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president who said Downer had got it all wrong.
Harris speaking on the Andre Baptiste's I.95.5FM Radio Show, on Tuesday, said the time to panic in T&T is now, as FIFA is very serious.
"It is my belief that FIFA has offered the United TTFA the opportunity to withdraw the matter from the court on September 16, which gives them two days before the Congress. I believe though that FIFA is of the opinion that the United TTFA would withdraw the matter when consideration is given to what can happen to T&T football," said Harris.
Downer stated that the stipulations for requesting an EGM are clearly stated in Article 29 of the TTFA's constitution.
"More than 50 per cent of the accredited delegates to the General Meeting (not of the members) must make the request in writing. Of course, with each Member Association or League submitting an official letter supporting the request with the names of its allotted delegates supporting the request. Of course, all Member Associations or Leagues must be provided with a copy of the entire motion and its proposers which is to be debated at the EGM. The composition of the General Meeting of the TTFA is stated in Article 22 of the constitution. Note that the total number of delegates allotted is 47; therefore, a number of at least 24 of the accredited delegates is needed to request a valid EGM.
Downer questioned: "How are we going to achieve secret balloting in a virtual meeting in these COVID-19 times?"
He also said the country is not in line to face any sanctions, saying: "Yes, there is an item (f) on the Agenda - Suspension or expulsion of a member (if applicable). This item is standard for all annual Congresses.
"Contact has been made with Caribbean Colleagues who will be attending the September 18 Congress and I have been informed that the mandatory Agenda and accompanying documents sent to them, have all made no mention whatsoever of any motion to suspend or expel the TTFA.
"The motion to suspend or expel a Member can be put before the annual Congress only by the Council of FIFA, by no other body or person. I have made inquiries about the deliberations of the last FIFA Council Meeting of about three weeks ago, and I have been reliably informed that the only matter that came up concerning the TTFA was the ratification of the Bureau’s decision to install the Normalisation Committee. No decision was taken to recommend the expulsion or suspension of the TTFA to the Congress."
However, Harris said: "I know FIFA normally brings matters to the Congress that they deem as emergency, of course, the executive committee of FIFA. They have the authority to bring matters to the Congress and I would like the matter to be dealt with on September 18 and not to drag it on, because the longer it goes, the longer any sanctions can be upheld. We have the qualifications coming up, we have the Gold Cup coming up and we don't want T&T sanctioned.
"I think that is the primary interest of all persons who are committed to the game, and in the Caribbean, especially T&T, is one of our brighter lights and we would not like to see anything happen to T&T football."
CFU president: We don’t want TTFA to be suspended.
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).
RANDY Harris, president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), says the regional governing body does not want the TT Football Association (TTFA) to be suspended by FIFA if it does not end its High Court matter against FIFA by September 16.
Harris was speaking in an interview on I95.5 FM on Tuesday.
On Monday, Osmond Downer, former FIFA referee and one of the framers of the TTFA constitution, expressed his doubts that FIFA can expel or suspend the TTFA at its annual ordinary congress on September 18.
Downer, in a media release on Monday, wrote, “I have been informed (by Caribbean colleagues who will be attending the congress) that the mandatory agenda and accompanying documents sent to them have all made no mention whatsoever of any motion to suspend or expel the TTFA.
“The motion to suspend or expel a member can be put before the annual congress only by the council of FIFA – by no other body or person,” Downer added. “I have made inquiries about the deliberations of the last FIFA council meeting of about three weeks ago, and I have been reliably informed that the only matter that came up concerning the TTFA was the ratification of the Bureau’s decision to install the normalisation committee.
“No decision was taken to recommend the expulsion or suspension of the TTFA to the congress.”
According to Harris, “It is my belief that FIFA has offered the TTFA the opportunity to withdraw the matter of the court decision on (September 16), which gives them two days before the congress is held.
“I believe that FIFA is of the opinion that the United TTFA would withdraw the matter,” Harris continued. “In the Caribbean, (T&T) is one of our brighter lights and we certainly would not like to have anything happen to T&T’s football.”
Concerning Downer’s view that FIFA would not have enough time, Harris said, “I know FIFA usually brings matters to the congress that they deem as an emergency. The executive committee of FIFA have the authority to bring matters to the congress.
“I would like the matter to be dealt with on the 18th of September and not to drag on, because the longer it goes, the longer any sanctions can be upheld. We have the (World Cup) qualifications coming up, the Gold Cup coming up and we don’t want that T&T (to be) sanctioned during any of these tournaments. We want them to be included in our schedules and our competitions.”
Harris also responded to Downer’s claim that he spoke to persons in the Caribbean who seem unaware that T&T can be sanctioned in the congress meeting.
“We, in the Caribbean, are hoping that the United TTFA would really do what it is in the best interest of football in the Caribbean. We are not waiting on any sanction or any suspension. We are hoping that the matter is dealt with before the deadline of September 16.”