OUSTED president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) William Wallace has vowed to stick to his word and immediately convene an Annual General Meeting (AGM) with the TTFA membership to chart a way forward, if High Court Justice Carol Gobin rules in favour of the former TTFA executive (which includes vice-presidents Clynt Taylor and Joseph Sam Phillip).
The TT Football Association (TTFA) will know on Tuesday, at 3 pm, if FIFA’s decision to remove Wallace and his executive from the helm of the local football body in March, and appoint a normalisation committee, was justified or in violation of local laws.
Justice Gobin said at a virtual hearing on Friday that she will give her decision by e-mail.
However, if Justice Gobin rules in favour of the world governing body, the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee, led by businessman Robert Hadad, assumes its role as head of the local fraternity.
A victory for FIFA, according to Wallace, would bring to an end a seven-month legal battle between the two football organisations.
Wallace said on Friday, “We are waiting Justice Gobin’s decision on Tuesday and that would determine how we go forward. As we indicated earlier, we would call an AGM immediately if we are victorious. And if the decision goes the other way, then we walk away from this. There would be no appeal by the United TTFA.”
Newsday also attempted to get a response from Hadad, on Justice Gobin’s decision, but calls to his phone went unanswered.
At the November 24, 2019 TTFA election, the William Wallace-led United TTFA slate was elected to take charge of the local football organisation.
On March 17, FIFA removed the TTFA executive and appointed a normalisation committee to run TT's football.
FIFA said the move was necessary owing to TTFA's massive debt, extremely low overall financial management methods and “a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity.”
The legality of this last transition has been challenged by Wallace's executive with Justice Gobin set to make a judgment on Tuesday.
FIFA, though, did not file a defence in the case against the TTFA in the local court. The world governing body maintains its stance that it does “not recognise the claim at the Trinidad court, and that the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) is the only correct tribunal to consider this dispute.”
Wallace vows to call meeting of TTFA membership following ruling on Tuesday.
By Ian Prescott (Express).
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace is promising to give notice of a TTFA annual general meeting (AGM) next Wednesday, provided High Court Judge Justice Carol Gobin rules in his favour the day prior.
Yesterday, Wallace and his exiled TTFA vice-presidents, Clynt Taylor and Sam Phillip, had their day in court. They had challenged FIFA’s decision on March 17, to dismiss the Association’s executive, and then impose its own normalisation committee, headed by businessman Robert Hadad, to manage T&T’s football affairs.
In employing their course of action, FIFA cited their reason as being the TTFA’s massive debt of over $50 million, poor management, and a real risk of insolvency of the TTFA.
“Once we get the ruling on Tuesday, we will send out the notice by Wednesday,” said Wallace.
“If the matter does not go in our favour then we walk away,” he pledged.
Yesterday, Justice Gobin deferred judgment to at latest 3 p.m. on Tuesday, October 13. Gobin mainly heard submissions from Wallace’s legal team, from the New City Chambers, in the lawsuit against FIFA. Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul represented the TTFA.
Wallace’s executive turned to the local court after withdrawing its initial challenge in the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Going to the local court flouted FIFA’s statutes, resulting in the TTFA being suspended from international football on September 24. FIFA has repeatedly said it does not recognise the jurisdiction of the local court.
FIFA’s position remains that it does not recognise the claim at the Trinidad court, and that the CAS is the only appropriate tribunal to consider the dispute. Therefore, while FIFA’s legal team of Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie, sat in on the virtual hearing, they were under instruction not to participate into subjective matter. However, at times they interjected on other matters in the proceedings.
One such moment saw Justice Gobin asking Hamel-Smith if Wallace’s executive is back in charge of the TTFA. “The TTFA is no longer part of the FIFA system,” said Hamel-Smith, adding that there was nothing stopping Wallace from assuming control of the TTFA, with FIFA having suspended the Association and withdrawn its normalisation committee.
Following yesterday’s events, Wallace told the Express that “immediately” upon Justice Gobin’s decision on Tuesday, he would accede to the wishes of the majority of the TTFA membership and call an AGM — its purpose being to dictate the future course of local football.
“If the matter is in our favour, the AGM will be called immediately. If not, and we lose, that is it. There will be no appeal or anything else,” Wallace affirmed.
Meanwhile, TTFA board member Brent Sancho said Wallace had reneged on a previous promise to heed the wishes of the majority of TTFA delegates and should either resign, or be forced out.
“The membership should be the ones calling an EGM (Emergency General Meeting) and taking away whatever power he (Wallace) feels he has because we are now going to continue to allow him to run this thing into the ground,” said Sancho. “It’s been a devastating, almost year, of his leadership, which would have caused this body (TTFA) $14 million more in debt, after the other presidents would have failed us in the past as well.”
Yesterday, Wallace gave the impression of a warrior who had fought a good fight, but in the face of insurmountable odds was now tired of the long, hard battle. He said his fight was to be given a fair hearing and the right to defend himself -- a right he felt FIFA denied when dissolving his four-month-old administration, without giving them a chance to defend themselves.
“For me, when this normalisation committee was installed, there was never an opportunity to defend ourselves, although I asked for it in writing, seven days later, in a letter to the president of FIFA,” adding, “We went to CAS thereafter for a chance to be heard. We were frustrated out of that by FIFA not cooperating, and at least I got a chance to be heard in my local court. That’s it for me.”