Mon, Jun

Wallace, TTFA resume FIFA battle.

T&T Football Association’s (TTFA) fight with football’s world governing body-FIFA, is far from over.

Following on the heels of a FIFA suspension on Thursday evening, William Wallace, the leader of the TTFA instructed his Attorneys to file an emergency appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to contest the suspension. And they have also withdrawn the withdrawal documents that ordered the stoppage of the TTFA vs FIFA case, which now means the TTFA will go ahead with the court matter against the FIFA in the High Court on October 9.

Wallace and his team, which has been reduced from six to five with the resignation of Susan Joseph-Warrick yesterday as second vice president at the TTFA, as the president of the Women’s League Football (WoLF) and from the TTFA Board, have been disappointed with FIFA which slapped a suspension on the TTFA, although the TTFA on Wednesday, had already filed documentation in the High Court to drop the court action with FIFA, which was a condition to prevent them from being banned. But the TTFA missed the stipulated 3 pm time and no notice was given to FIFA on the status of the matter.

TTFA has been in a tussle with the FIFA since March 17, when its elected executive was removed and ten days later replaced by a FIFA-appointment Normalisation Committee as the administrators of local football.

FIFA had on August 26 in a letter, warned the TTFA of sanctions if it did not drop the case against them by September 16. This was followed by another letter on September 18, giving the TTFA a revised deadline of September 23 to drop the case or face suspension.

Wallace said his lawyers were expected to serve the FIFA lawyers yesterday with a letter that the documents had been filed to drop the case, since Thursday was a holiday.

However, FIFA in a letter on Republic Day (September 24) told the TTFA it had been suspended with immediate effect and until further notice.

According to the FIFA, the suspension will only to be lifted if the TTFA recognise and accept the Normalisation Committee and if the TTFA statutes are in line with FIFA statutes.

Wallace responded yesterday with a letter that said: “It is also now clear that the decision to suspend the TTFA amidst the upcoming draw for the Gold Cup 2021 is meant to, amongst other things, provoke public furore against the properly and democratically elected executive of the TTFA. It is, for this reason, that last night (Thursday) I gave instructions to the TTFA Attorneys to file an emergency appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), challenging the sole issue of the suspension of TTFA in the face of illegal threats and coercive acts by FIFA.

“The attorneys were also asked to make an application for Injunctive Relief so that if successful this would allow T&T to participate in the Gold Cup draw carded for Monday 28th September 2020.”

However, a Concacaf released stated that T&T is included in Monday’s draw, but will be given until December 18, to comply with FIFA request or the country will be withdrawn from the tournament.

Meanwhile, Wallace said: “This morning (yesterday) and on my further instructions, the TTFA attorneys also filed the relevant documents to continue with the claim before the High Court of Justice since this is the only way that we can legitimise our application to CAS. The obvious question would be, why CAS?

“The answer is that the action taken against the TTFA is a disciplinary one and CAS is charged with dealing with such matters. It must also be noted that our only financial obligation in this matter is the filing fees.”

Wallace said the action FIFA was an indication that they were going to ban the TTFA whether the matter had been withdrawn or not, an action which against the principles of fair play which has been pushed by the FIFA.

VIDEO - FIFA suspends Trinidad and Tobago indefinitely from its competitions | SportsMax Zone

SportsMax Zone discusses FIFA's suspension of Trinidad and Tobago. Guests include David Nakhid (former T&T captain and current Opposition Senator), Anil Roberts (former Minister of Sport and current Opposition Senator), Osmond Downer (VP of the Referees Association and one of the framers of the TTFA constitution), and Brent Sancho (former Minister of Sport and current Acting Chairman of the T&T Pro League)


TTFA kicks up a storm after suspension
Ian Prescott (T&T Express).

Legal claim against FIFA reinstated

A DAY after submitting it, Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace has rescinded a notice to withdraw a legal claim against football’s world governing body FIFA in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court.

Wallace’s attorney, Dr Emir Crowne, yesterday wrote FIFA and the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) seeking a stay of execution of the decision to suspend Trinidad and Tobago from international football taken by the Bureau of the FIFA Council.

CAS’s head of arbitration, Antonio De Quesada, acknowledged receipt of Crowne’s letter.

“I acknowledge receipt of the urgent application for a stay of the decision rendered by the Bureau of the FIFA Council on 24 September 2020, filed by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association,” Quesada stated.

“The application has been assigned to the Appeals Arbitration Division of the CAS. I note that the Applicant has requested a decision to be issued by Monday 28 September 2020 at 08h00 (2 a.m. local time) without giving any reason to justify such request.”

Wallace’s latest action came in response to FIFA’s suspension of Trinidad and Tobago from international football on Thursday’s Republic Day holiday.

The former TTFA executives had challenged FIFA’s decision to replace them with its own Normalisation Committee in March.

They took High Court action in defiance of FIFA’s statutes, which prohibit member associations from taking disputes to local courts and list suspension or expulsion as a consequence.

On Thursday, FIFA acted on an ultimatum sent from FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura, who demanded that Wallace withdraw the matter by 3 p.m. on September 23 or the TTFA would be suspended.

New twist

As pressure from TTFA delegates mounted, Wallace’s United TTFA group filed a withdrawal application, but only after the deadline (3.02 p.m.) according to the stamp on the High Court document.

Wallace announced the new turn of events in a news release yesterday.

“This morning and on my further instructions, the TTFA attorneys also filed the relevant documents to continue with the claim before the High Court of Justice since this is the only way that we can legitimise our application to CAS,” Wallace stated.

At 7.38 a.m., attorney Jason Jones applied to the T&T Supreme Court registry to file notice of a discontinuation of the notice of application for permission to withdraw the claim, draft order and the affidavit which Wallace filed on September 23.

High Court judge, Justice Carol Gobin, will deliberate on the new motion when the matter begins on October 9.

FIFA has confirmed it will not submit a defence since it does not recognise the jurisdiction of the local court.

Wallace also explained the decision to return to the Switzerland-based CAS with a motion to suppress FIFA’s suspension.

“The obvious question would be, why CAS? The answer is that the action taken against the TTFA is a disciplinary one and CAS is charged with dealing with such matters. It must also be noted that our only financial obligation in this matter is the filing of fees.”

TTFA VP quits

With some TTFA board members already calling for his resignation, Wallace no longer has the support of one of his vice-presidents.

TTFA VP Susan Joseph-Warrick yesterday resigned, citing a breach of trust with her former United TTFA colleagues as she announced she had quit all her positions.

“Having consulted with our membership, we took the decision to give up our principled struggle for the future of Trinidad and Tobago football and moved for the withdrawal of court proceedings against FIFA.

“How and why these papers were filed after the 3 p.m. deadline is beyond me, and I am saddened and disappointed at the turn of events,” said Joseph-Warrick.

“As for me, I am done. I wish to advise of my resignation from the United TTFA, Trinidad and Tobago Women’s League Football (TT WoLF) and my elected post of second vice-president of the TTFA.”

Contacted for a response, Wallace argued that FIFA intended to take action.

“The lawyers have advised us not to speak. I just came from their office. We are doing a release.”

Wallace, in his statement at 5 p.m., maintained that the TTFA took steps to withdraw its High Court claim against FIFA.

“It is unfortunate that notwithstanding the TTFA having taken steps to withdraw the claim before our High Court, FIFA seemingly found it fit, fair and/or proper to not only take punitive steps against the TTFA but to introduce a new and further condition requiring the TTFA to ‘bring its own statutes into line with the FIFA statutes’.

“It is now clear however that FIFA intended to take punitive action against the TTFA regardless of whether or not steps were taken by the TTFA to withdraw and discontinue the claim before our High Court of Justice on the 23rd September 2020,” Wallace stated.

United TTFA returns to ‘biased’ CAS.
By Jonathan Ramnanansingh (Newsday).

UNITED TTFA, after previously questioning the impartiality of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, has returned to the Swiss court to fight FIFA.

The ousted TT Football Association (TTFA) executive on Friday sought to withdraw its withdrawal of a lawsuit against FIFA in the TT High Court. The case is set to be heard by Justice Carol Gobin on October 9.

Although the sport’s global governing body indefinitely suspended the local fraternity on Thursday, ousted TTFA president William Wallace and his regime still believe their removal and appointment of a normalisation committee, by FIFA,was “illegal”.

Wallace’s team complied with FIFA’s request and withdrew their legal fight at 3:02pm on Wednesday – two minutes over the 3pm September 23 deadline set by the world body – to escape suspension proceedings. FIFA showed no leniency as United TTFA initially had until September 16 to withdraw but FIFA had given an extension.

United TTFA will now fight the FIFA suspension at CAS and, on Thursday night, “gave instructions to the TTFA attorneys to file an emergency appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), challenging the sole issue of suspension.”

This was revealed in a document issued by Wallace, accompanied by the TTFA letterhead, on Friday, which further stated, “The TTFA attorneys also filed the relevant documents to continue with the claim before the High Court of Justice (TT) since this is the only way that we can legitimise our application to CAS.”

Ironically, CAS was shunned upon by the removed administration during the early stages of this legal battle, as their attorneys Dr. Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle claimed that a “number of irregularities have arisen, irregularities that have caused their clients to believe their right to a fair hearing has been impinged.”

After the appointment of the normalisation committee in March, Wallace’s team of Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick, and Joseph Sam Phillip, along with TT Super League president Keith Look Loy and Northern Football Association president Anthony Harford, took FIFA to CAS.

Twelve days later, the ejected administrators turned to the TT High Court in its fight, although, according to FIFA’s Statues, this matter was mandated to be heard at CAS.

United TTFA claimed CAS showed “bias” in favour of FIFA.

Look Loy said on Friday, “We filed an injunction at the CAS against the suspension. But to ensure we had legal standing to do so, we had to have a legal matter before the local courts. Had the case been withdrawn from the court, there would be no legal standing in the local high court.

“There would be no legal standing because they have no case before the court, which means they have accepted FIFA’s imposition of the normalisation committee. We do not accept this and thus had to withdraw the withdrawal application to file such an injunction against FIFA.”

Both Look Loy and Wallace claim the first application to withdraw was done after an informal meeting of TTFA’s membership voted, on Tuesday, to end the court action against FIFA. The count revealed 21 members for, eight against and three abstaining their vote.

“We put aside our political position and principles and abided by our member’s decision and submitted the said application to withdraw. By going ahead and banning TTFA, FIFA refused the wish of the TTFA membership. It was an absolutely harsh and nonsensical decision by FIFA because they got everything they asked for, whether two minutes late,” Look Loy added.

The FC Santa Rosa president believes, however, that FIFA “needed” to suspend the TTFA because of their action to challenge its global governance structure. According to him, if TTFA was not sanctioned or punished for challenging the sport’s governing body, other country associations would have also stood up against football’s bosses.

“Whether we submitted the application to withdraw or not, FIFA still wants to show us who the real boss is. Anywhere we go from here is as a result of FIFA’s refusal to accept our withdrawal,” he further stated.

Amidst the suspension and uncertainty of T&T’s football future, normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad revealed, on Friday, that Concacaf held an “emergency meeting” hours prior stating that T&T will be included in the 2021 Gold Cup draw which is set to take place on September 28.

The Concacaf media release read, “However, they (T&T) will only participate in the competition if the suspension imposed on the TTFA is lifted by 5pm on December 18.”

If the ban is not lifted, T&T will be replaced by Antigua and Barbuda.

Strangely enough, Look Loy sees this move by the regional body as a positive sign going forward and called on football enthusiasts to remain fearless.

“Everybody in T&T could relax about the Gold Cup. Four hours after we lodged our case, Concacaf guaranteed we would be in Monday’s draw and would play in the tournament once the suspension is lifted before December 18.

“I assure you it will be lifted (suspension) because United TTFA, if we win, will call a meeting and let the membership decide if they want United TTFA or a normalisation committee. If they request the latter, we will invite FIFA to send one. They will have the authority to do that. But it will be all legal,” he noted.

In response to Joseph-Warrick’s surprising resignation as TT Women’s Football League (WoLF) president owing to FIFA’s decision to suspend TTFA, Look Loy holds no malice against his comrade.

Joseph-Warrick, in a letter disbursed on Friday morning, stated that, “it has become clear to me that we are also fighting against those that we represent: the associations, the clubs, the teams, supporters and sadly, the players.”

Look Loy said, “We love Susan and we would never hold her resignation against her. Every soldier knows how much and how long they could fight. We respect her decision and still embrace her. We have no problem with what she has done. There is no bacchanal in the United TTFA.”

From here, the ousted regime look forward to CAS’ response on their injunction and the October 9 TT High Court against FIFA.

“This could be over in two weeks,” Look Loy said.