The attorneys for former president of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) William Wallace and his team have filed an injunction on Friday to stop Tuesday's Emergency General Meeting (EGM) by the sports' general membership from taking place.
The injunction filed with the Registrar of the High Court of Justice, comes two days after questions were raised about the legitimacy of the meeting by Osmond Downer, the T&T Football Referees Association (T&TFRA) vice president, who also worked on the TTFA amended constitution in 2015, and a day after Robert Hadad, the chairman of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation committee (NC) which also comprise attorney Judy Daniel (deputy chairman) and former banker Nigel Romano (member), wrote to the membership informing them that the meeting is on and all concerns that were raised have been resolved.
Justice Carol Gobin, who ruled in the TTFA favour on August 13, that the T&T High Court can hear the former TTFA executive officers' appeal against the implementation of a NC, will hear the application during a Case Management conference on Monday.
In its application to the T&T High Court of Justice naming the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association as the claimant and FIFA as the defendant, has asked the court for the following:
1) taking any further steps to convene and/or conduct any meeting, on the 15th September 2020 or any other date, which purports to be an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Claimant;
2) instructing and/or directing any person or persons to seek to withdraw the instant claim and/or in any way, manner of fashion from interfering with or seeking to undermine, the instant proceedings, except by way of lawful representations made by the Defendant’s duly appointed Attorneys-at-Law or other lawful intervention
3) making use of and/or publication of the Claimant’s Official Logo, Letterhead, and Stamp/Seal; and 2. That the Defendant do pay the costs of this Application.
The application has listed 20 grounds for the TTFA requests, while DJ Williams has produced an affidavit with 20 documents which comprised among others, the membership signed petition letter dated August 28, the response from Hadad dated September 4, agreeing to convene the EGM on September 15 and the August 26 letter from general secretary of FIFA Fatma Samoura, addressed to Hadad, warning that TTFA would face sanctions if it did not withdraw the matter out of the T&T High Court by September 16.
Wallace is claiming that at item 12 of his affidavit that the stakeholders meeting which the Shamfa Cudjoe, the Ministry of Sports and Community Development called on August 28, he believed was attended by Hadad, and the previous TTFA President, David John-Williams as well as other persons, was to request and convene an Extraordinary General Meeting of the TTFA.
The affidavit gives a general account from the first day of FIFA's take over of T&TFA on March 17 with all relevant documents and email correspondences between parties.
Wallace and his three vice presidents Joseph Sam Phillip, Clynt Taylor and Susan Joseph-Warrick and associates Keith Look Loy, the president of the T&T Super League and Anthony Harford, the president of the Northern Football Association, have always resisted FIFA's decision to implement a Normalisation committee to manage the TTFA after it enforced Article 8.2 of the FIFA Statutes which states: ‘Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period.
The TTFA is represented by attorney Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Crystal Paul and Jason Jones, while FIFA's legal team is Cherie Gopie and M. Hamel-Smith & Co.
‘Contemptuous!’ Wallace asks High Court to stop EGM and ‘restrain’ Fifa’s normalisation committee
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace has asked the High Court to block the Fifa-appointed normalisation committee from holding an Extraordinary General Meeting on 15 September, as the two bodies continue to fight over the right to run the local game.
On 4 September, normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad announced that the ad hoc body would ‘convene’ an EGM, in keeping with the TTFA Constitution—after a request by 25 of the local football body’s 47 delegates. (There is some dispute whether three of the signatories were valid.)
The agenda of the meeting includes: ‘the recognition of the Fifa-installed normalisation committee’ and ‘consequences of initiating court matter against Fifa in local court’.
The member delegates’ request for an EGM came soon after Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura’s threat to ‘commence suspension proceedings’ against the TTFA, as a result of Wallace’s legal action against the the global body.
On 13 August, High Court Judge Carol Gobin ruled that Wallace and his vice-presidents can challenge Fifa’s attempt to remove them from their elected posts in the local courts. Fifa is appealing the decision.
Wallace and his vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip, via their attorneys, contend that the actions of Fifa and its local agent, Hadad, since then, are ‘wholly improper and/or contemptuous’ of Justice Gobin’s ruling.
Wallace and his vice-presidents, whose actions are filed as the TTFA, are represented by Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul of the New City Chambers.
Fifa is represented by attorneys Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie from M Hamel-Smith and Co.
Today, Wallace’s legal team asked the High Court for an interim injunction to prohibit Fifa and any of its agents and/or appointees, including the normalisation committee, from:
1. Taking any further steps to convene and/or conduct any meeting, on the 15th September 2020 or any other date, which purports to be an Extraordinary General Meeting of the TTFA;
2. Instructing and/or directing any person or persons to seek to withdraw the instant claim and/or in any way, manner of fashion from interfering with or seeking to undermine, the instant proceedings, except by way of lawful representations made by Fifa’s duly appointed attorneys-at-law or other lawful intervention;
3. Making use of and/or publication of the TTFA’s official logo, letterhead, and stamp/seal.
Wallace, through an affidavit filed today, accused Fifa of trying to subvert the court.
“Notwithstanding the live proceedings before the High Court and the Court of Appeal,” stated Wallace, “Fifa has, since the ruling of the High Court on 13th August 2020, simultaneously sought to adopt and employ various unsavoury, collateral tactics seemingly aimed at subverting the adjudication of the [TTFA’s] claim before the Honourable Court.
“I am advised and I verily believe that Fifa’s conduct, since the Honourable Court’s ruling on 13th August 2020, amounts to a direct and/or indirect usurpation of the [TTFA’s] lawful authority and powers which form part of [TTFA’s] claim—yet to be fully ventilated and/or adjudicated upon, before the High Court of Justice.”
Wallace pointed to the ‘recalcitrance’ of Fifa’s public statements on 8 July and 20 July respectively, which stated that the Zurich-based body ‘will never, accept the jurisdiction of a local court in Trinidad and Tobago to decide on the legality of the appointment of the normalisation committee’; and ‘the only recognised path […] is CAS’.
“I am very concerned that if Fifa and/or its delegates and/or appointees are not restrained in the terms of this application,” stated Wallace’s application, “it will continue to take steps to: improperly and/or unlawfully interfere in the [TTFA’s] day-to-day management; misrepresent the [TTFA] through the improper and/or unlawful use of the [TTFA’s] official logo, letterhead and stamp/seal; misrepresent the [TTFA] by purporting to be acting pursuant to the [TTFA’s] powers and/or constitution; and take further steps to improperly undermine the [TTFA] proceeding with its claim before the Honourable Court.”
The TTFA’s claim noted that Hadad along with normalisation committee vice-chairperson July Daniel and ordinary member Nigel Romano, were served legal warnings of their conduct in relation to the convened AGM—but proceeded anyway.
Wallace also referenced ‘an unauthorised meeting […] convened and coordinated by the Ministry of Sport of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’.
“Coming out of this meeting which, I am informed and I verily believe was attended by Mr Hadad, the Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe, and the previous TTFA President, Mr David John-Williams as well as other persons,” stated Wallace, “is a letter dated the 28th August 2020 addressed to the FIFA appointed Mr Hadad as chairman of the ‘normalisation committee’, which purports to be a request to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting of the TTFA.”
Wallace repeated his previous claim that the Ministry of Sport’s invitation for him to attend the online meeting: ‘went to my junk mail’.
“Meetings of the TTFA and its affiliates are mandated by Article 17 of the constitution to take place free from external / third party influence,” stated Wallace. “This includes government involvement and/or pressure. Ironically, Article 15 of [Fifa’s Statutes] also prohibits political involvement in the operation of its members.”
Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe has made it clear that the government would drastically reduce funding to the TTFA if the local body is suspended by Fifa. However, it is uncertain if she or her ministry played any role in the call for an EGM.
Cudjoe not be reached for comment up to the time of publication.
According to article 29 of the TTFA Constitution, the board can call an EGM at any time while the board is also obliged to hold one at the written request of ‘a majority (more than 50%) of the accredited delegates to the General Meeting’.
The constitution further states that: ‘if an Extraordinary General Meeting is not convened within the indicated time, the delegates who requested it may convene the Extraordinary General Meeting themselves’.
Fifa insists that its normalisation committee has replaced the TTFA Board. However, if members insist on holding an EGM, they could feasibly redo their motion and, this time, send it to Wallace—as chairman of the TTFA board.
The TTFA president cannot lawfully refuse the will of the majority of the football body’s members. But the members cannot possibly convene such a meeting, in keeping with the time frame given by the constitution, before Fifa’s deadline for the withdrawal of the TTFA’s case from the High Court.
Ironically, Wallace’s request that the High Court block the normalisation committee from playing any role in the TTFA’s daily operations comes months after the Hadad-led party took control of the local body’s secretariat and offices.
At present, the normalisation committee is locked in talks with national football coaches regarding remuneration for contracts entered into by Wallace’s administration; and it has already paid staff salaries.
Thus far, there has been no comment from either Fifa or its normalisation committee to the football president’s latest legal manoeuvre.
Last night, CNC3 investigative journalist Mark Bassant did an hour long piece, which suggested that Fifa might have allowed—inadvertently or otherwise—former TTFA president David John-Williams to spirit away up to US$1.5 million in funding meant for the Couva Home of Football.
John-Williams’ behaviour might therefore have contributed significantly, in more ways than one, to Fifa’s attempt to remove Wallace, who was hell-bent on investigating the controversial venue.
Wallace is seeking to retain control of the local football body. And, today, he again complained to the High Court that Fifa is not fighting fair.
“Unfortunately, Fifa appears to have adopted an uncompromising posture and has resorted to a range of methods including direct threats of punitive action against the [TTFA] and/or the [TTFA’s] duly elected representatives,” stated Wallace’s affidavit, “to indirect and subversive tactics in the form of the Fifa’s Normalisation Committee’s improper efforts to convene an Extraordinary Ordinary Meeting in the name of the [TTFA].
“I believe that an injunction in the terms of this Application has become necessary to preserve the status quo, and most importantly to ensure that the instant claim can be determined meaningfully by the Honourable Court. If [Fifa] is not restrained, it has indicated an intention to attempt to unilaterally and improperly withdraw the claim from the Honourable Court.”
United TTFA wants court stop Sept 15 meeting
By Jonathan Ramnanansingh (Newsday).
Attorneys representing the ousted TT Football Association (TTFA) executive have filed an injunction in the TT High Court to stop the September 15 Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of TTFA members which is being facilitated by the FIFA normalisation committee, headed by Robert Hadad.
This hearing is set for Monday.
The EGM has been adjudged “illegal” by the removed administration of president William Wallace and his deputies Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip, who are members of the United TTFA team that took over the helm of the TTFA at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in November 2019.
However, the executive was removed by FIFA and replaced by the normalisation committee on March 17 owing to mounting TTFA debt and "a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity."
Wallace and his executive are challenging their removal.
The September 15 meeting was called to address United TTFA's contentious High Court battle against FIFA. The world governing body insists the Court of Arbitration for Sport is the sole body authorised to handle disputes between FIFA and Member Associations.
The injunction, which was filed on Friday, seeks to prohibit FIFA and/or the normalisation committee from “taking any further steps to convene and/or conduct any meeting, on September 15, 2020 or any other date, which purports to be an Extraordinary General Meeting of the claimant (TTFA).
United TTFA also responded to an August 26 FIFA letter to the normalisation committee instructing them to warn United TTFA that the local governing body would face disciplinary proceedings if it did not withdraw the claim against FIFA in the local court by September 16.
The injunction seeks to stop the “instructing and/or directing any person or persons to seek to withdraw the instant claim and/or in any way, manner of fashion from interfering with or seeking to undermine, the instant proceedings, except by way of lawful representations made by the defendant’s (FIFA) duly appointed attorneys-at-law or other lawful intervention”.
It also seeks to stop the normalisation committee from “making use of and/or publication of the claimant’s official logo, letterhead and stamp/seal” but affirms the defendant “pay the costs of this application”.