Sat, Dec

Sancho, Awai, Edwards — Game Over.

It's 'Game Over' for the T&T Football Association and the country, said Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the T&T Pro League Brent Sancho, Keiron Edwards, president of the Eastern Football Association of T&T and Mike Awai, Business Development Officer at Pro League campaigners AC Port-of-Spain, following a court order yesterday by justice Carol Gobin, who granted an injunction to stop a planned Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) that was called to stop the membership of the TTFA from stopping a legal battle between the United TTFA and the sport's world governing body - FIFA.

Wallace and his team, via their Attorneys Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Crystal Paul and Jason Jones, in an application to the T&T High Court on Friday asked the court that:

(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: and

(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.

FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura gave the William Wallace-led United TTFA until tomorrow (September 16) to drop the court battle or else face sanctions. She also called on the TTFA to recognise the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland as the jurisdiction to settle all FIFA disputes.

The United TTFA now appears to have won round two of its battle with the FIFA to remove a Normalisation Committee which was put in charge of T&T football in March. To date, Wallace and his vice presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip, who were removed from office only three months after winning the TTFA elections in November last year, claimed round one after Justice Carol Gobin ruled that the local court can be used as the jurisdiction to settle the dispute between the parties, instead of the CAS, the legitimate jurisdiction according to the FIFA Statutes.

Both Awai and Sancho told Guardian Media Sports on Monday that the ruling means the TTFA and the country now face certain sanctions which will prevent the country from any FIFA-sanctioned football event, such as World Cup qualifiers or actual tournaments, CONCACAF Gold Cup, no Caribbean or CONCACAF World Club Championship etc.

"There is absolutely nothing that can be done before the September 16 deadline given by the FIFA now. It's game over for us. The United TTFA has finally succeeded in positioning the country to be banned, how ironic that the very court system that is used for justice, has deprived the country the right to have its teams play in tournaments," Sancho said.

According to the Central FC owner and managing director: "This injunction now makes the normalisation committee powerless, which means there will be no payment of salaries for the staff of the TTFA as well as the national teams' coaches. I wonder if Wallace and the United TTFA will now pay the coaches?."

Sancho believes the United TTFA is bent on ruining football in T&T, saying they have ignored a call by more than 50 per cent of the membership to put the country in a position where it will be banned. He called on Wallace, Keith Look Loy and company to say if they know about the FIFA Statutes before taking the action they have taken.

On Sunday, Clayton Morris, the speaker for the group of national teams' coaches, said he didn't believe any action of the court would have affected his coaches from being paid since a format for payment had already been worked out.

Following a meeting of his group on Saturday night, Morris said a decision was taken to stay the course and remain confident that, not only will they receive their salaries, but will also get new contracts and or new coaching appointments.

Awai said the decision of the court means the writing is on the wall that we will be banned. "If the normalisation committee cannot call a simple meeting then it is powerless."

Keiron Edwards, the EFA boss who initiated a petition to garner the majority support, is warning the public that they can look out for a ban by this week, saying football in this country will cease to take place because there will be no normalisation committee and no one to run football soon, despite the best efforts by the United TTFA to win a court matter against the FIFA.

After FIFA's deadline of September 16, the FIFA Congress will be held on Friday (September 18) and there are speculations that the sanctions on the TTFA can be handed down there.


Judge Gobin stops TTFA membership meeting.
By Derek Achong (Guardian).

Former T&T Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and his team have secured an injunction blocking an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the association's members, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

The injunction was granted by High Court Judge Carol Gobin as a lawsuit, brought by Wallace and his team against FIFA over their removal and replacement by a Normalisation Committee led by businessman Robert Hadad, came up for virtual hearing on Monday.

Presenting the injunction application, Wallace's lawyer Matthew Gayle claimed that the meeting, which was requisitioned by T&TFA membership and facilitated by the committee, would have sought to challenge their authority to bring the claim and have it withdrawn.

He suggested that under the association's constitution, elected members such as Wallace and his team were required to call the meeting upon requisition and that the committee, as Fifa delegates, could only act on it if they had not within 30 days.

Gayle suggested that the meeting was set before the deadline had elapsed and was seeking to usurp the functions of the court.

The application was not opposed by Senior Counsel Christopher Hamel-Smith, who led FIFA's and by extension the committee's legal team.

During the hearing, Hamel-Smith applied for a stay of the proceedings pending his client's appeal over Gobin's decision to refuse its bid to have the case dismissed over a lack of jurisdiction.

FIFA had claimed that by virtue of TTFA's membership with it and under the provisions of its constitution, it (TTFA) had agreed to forgo litigation in local courts in favour of proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which like FIFA is based in Switzerland.

Hamel-Smith noted that his client is maintaining its position and that by participating in the continued case before her, through filing a defence, may compromise it.

Gobin disagreed as she noted her directions for the case to be determined expeditiously, while the appeal was being pursued, were not appealed and were still valid.

Gobin stated that FIFA would not be prejudiced as any decision made by her in the case may be rendered null and void if the Court of Appeal disagrees with her ruling, when it hears the appeal on October 21.

She also questioned if FIFA was employing time wasting tactics.

"Is it that your client is playing for extra time?" Gobin said.

In rejecting the application, Gobin extended the time for FIFA to file its defence to Friday as it had missed its original deadline of September 4.

She also set a tentative trial date of October 9, in the event that the defence is not filed and a corresponding reply is not required.

Through the local lawsuit, Wallace and his three vice presidents — Clynt Taylor, Joseph Sam Phillips, and Susan Joseph-Warrick are seeking a declaration that the decision to remove them on March 17, and replace them with a committee on March 27, comprising of Hadad, attorney Judy Daniel, and retired banker Nigel Romano was null, void, and of no legal or binding effect.

They are also seeking a permanent injunction barring FIFA from meddling in the TTFA's affairs by allegedly seeking to circumvent the democratic process by removing duly elected executive members.

Wallace and his team initially brought proceedings against FIFA in the CAS but were forced to withdraw as they could not pay the the 40,000 Swiss francs (TT$276,000) in associated costs.

Their position was partly due to FIFA's policy to not pay its share of the fees and CAS's rules, which require the other party to pay the full costs when the other fails in its obligations.

Wallace and his colleagues are also being represented by Dr Emir Crowne, Crystal Paul, and Jason Jones, while Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie appeared alongside Hamel-Smith for FIFA.