Mon, Jul

Sancho (left) points finger; Wallace (right) silent.

Power play

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board member Brent Sancho is anticipating a long suspension from international football for this country, unless the TTFA executive, headed by president William Wallace, is steered away from its present course.

Sancho has accused Wallace of attempting to hold unto power at all costs notwithstanding there will be a price to be paid. Wallace and vice-presidents Sam Phillip and Clynt Taylor have challenged their removal by world football’s governing body, FIFA, which in March installed a normalisation committee, chaired by Robert Hadad, to take over the administration of the near-insolvent TTFA, which is $100 million in debt.

“Their true objectives are crystal clear; attempt to uphold their positions, regain control of the TTFA and its funding, and continue as if their disastrous and shady stint in charge never happened,” stated Central FC owner Sancho.

Wallace heads back to the local High Court tomorrow, where Justice Carol Gobin will rule on a claim brought against FIFA, challenging the TTFA’s dismissal. FIFA has made clear its intention not to mount a defence. In its statutes, FIFA lists the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as the only appropriate court for resolution of such disputes and has banned T&T for breaching said regulation.

“Make no mistake, the pursuit by these individuals to remain relevant, maintain a livelihood and grip to the ways of the past, is being disguised as the fight for the sovereignty of the TTFA,” stressed Sancho.

FIFA’s Bureau of the Council suspended the TTFA on September 24, due to violations of the FIFA Statutes. However, FIFA has announced it will be willing to lift the suspension if, by December 18, the TTFA complies with its obligations as a member of FIFA, including recognising the legitimacy of the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee, and also bringing its own statutes into line with FIFA Statutes. However, Sancho doubts whether Wallace’s actions will result in these conditions being met.

On Tuesday, FIFA general secretary announced that the recent suspension of the TTFA meant the withdrawal of its normalisation committee and, consequently, the funding to pay administrative staff and coaches, as well as development funding for national youth and women’s teams.

“As a result of the suspension of the TTFA’s membership of FIFA, the normalisation committee which was appointed by FIFA has necessarily ceased all operational and management functions over the TTFA,” Samoura informed via email letter.

Asked if Samoura’s letter had confirmed that he was back in charge of TTFA football, Wallace preferred to defer comment until a later date.

“That all confusing. That is the matter before the court anyway, so I don’t want to say anything until after Friday,” said Wallace. “I prefer not to comment at this point. We have a matter before the court on Friday. Any time after Friday I am willing to talk to the press, but not before.”

Samoura had also announced that T&T will be barred from participation in qualifying for the two biggest tournaments in the region, the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2022 Qatar Men’s World Cup.

“FIFA will never back down, as they will not ‘operate’ in a country that will place its system in jeopardy (one out of 211 by the way),” Sancho noted.

Wallace recently lost the support of second-vice president Susan Joseph-Warrick, one of the leading protagonists in their fight against FIFA. Joseph-Warrick announced her resignation as TTFA second vice-president, from United TTFA, and as president of WoLF (Women’s League Football) after T&T’s ban by FIFA on September 24.

“Within recent times 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,” Joseph-Warrick stated when she announced her resignation.

“I believe that the end must justify the means and that our present course of actions against FIFA would not redound to the benefit of Trinidad and Tobago and to the dreams and aspirations of our present and future generations of footballers,” she had said.