Mon, May

NFA secretary Rayshawn Mars

The Northern Football Association (NFA) is not in support of T&T being sanctioned by the sport's world governing body, FIFA.

At a meeting of the association's membership which was done via zoom on Thursday night, the clubs appeared to have gone against their support for the United TTFA and its members - William Wallace, Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick, Joseph Sam Phillip, Keith Look Loy and Anthony Harford, by unanimously voting 10-0 to have an Emergency General Meeting (EGM), which is being called by the TTFA membership to stop the United TTFA from taking legal actions against FIFA.

The United TTFA is challenging the decision by FIFA to appoint a Normalisation Committee on March 17 to manage local football, a decision that came three months into the United TTFA's term in office, since their victory at the polls in November, last year.

If they are able to stop the court battle by the September 16 deadline, the date given by FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura in a release last week for the United TTFA to pull the matter out of the court system and abide by the FIFA Statutes of allowing the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland to settle the dispute between the parties, the TTFA will face sanctions or be suspended.

This means that the country will be prevented from participating at World Cup Qualifiers from youth to senior levels inclusive of Girls and Women's football, preventing the country from taking part at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and CFU tournaments, preventing local clubs from going beyond the boundaries of football in T&T, preventing local referees from being scheduled for tournaments outside of T&T and blocking all international friendly matches.

NFA secretary Rayshawn Mars said the executive, in the interest of democracy and fairness, consulted with its membership to make a decision on whether to support the United TTFA, of which their president Harford is a supporter or the EGM which will ensure that the country can continue to aspire for football greatness.

From the NFA's roster of 16 clubs in the Premier Division, 10 teams - St Francois Nationals, Cultural Roots United, Trendsetter Hawks, Belmont FC, Harvard, Cantaro United, Patna River Estate, Miscellaneous Laventille United, Frontline FC and Malvern - all voted to have the EGM. The other six teams - RSSR, Morvant Elements, Combine Forces, Seekers FC, Paramin FC and North Coast FC - did not tune in to the meeting, for unknown reasons.

Mars said the clubs all receive reminders a day before the meeting. Calls were made to Harford, yesterday but they went unanswered.

The meeting was initially carded for last week Mars stated but because it failed to have a quorum, it was set to go on as planned, regardless of the turnout, on Thursday.

Mars, a former footballer himself, explained that the clubs really voted for the country not to be banned, saying otherwise they believe the actions of FIFA to remove a democratically elected executive, was a wrong one.

With the support of the NFA, the membership may feel comfortable now, after claims they have already received more than 50 per cent support to demand an EGM, as well as remove the United TTFA, which requires 70 per cent support. Robert Hadad, chairman of the Normalisation Committee has already scheduled the EGM for September 15 which the membership is eagerly awaiting.

The United TTFA has already claimed a round-one victory when Justice Carol Gobin, ruled that the matter can be settled in T&T High Court, despite it being a violation of the FIFA Statutes. The matter is now set for a show-down in the Court of Appeal on October 19.

Despite the date for the appeal-hearing, Samoura on August 26 called on TTFA to ignore the court ruling and move the case to the CAS, saying: “As you are aware, FIFA is extremely concerned regarding the decision of the claim and the arguments used to dismiss FIFA’s application. In this context, we draw your attention to article 59 of the FIFA Statutes, which expressly contains the prohibition of recourse to ordinary courts of law unless specifically provided for. FIFA takes such a principle with the utmost seriousness and therefore considers that it is the responsibility of its member associations to ensure that this principle is implemented.

"We further wish to underline that the failure to meet these obligations may, according to article 14 para 4 of the FIFA Statutes, lead to sanctions as provided for in the FIFA Statutes, including a possible suspension.”

In spite of this, Wallace and his team remain grounded in their stance and will continue to seek redress.

Meanwhile, the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) was to meet on Thursday evening as well to decided on whether to support the United TTFA or the TTFA membership. However, the meeting was postponed as its members wanted to wait until viewing the CNC3's football exposé on former TTFA president David John-Williams before a decision could have been made. The report highlighted the alleged wrong doings of John-Williams during his tenure at the head of local football.