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Dr Gloudon: TTFA-Fifa: an inconvenient truth that won’t be deciphered with one-dimensional thinking.
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“[…] The TTFA has undoubtedly been in a mess for a long time; and so has Fifa. Indeed, we may have learned how to be corrupt in football from Fifa. No one in a local or regional body can carry on sustained defrauding of Fifa without the assistance of someone inside of Fifa.

“[…] Nevertheless, in the case of Fifa, they are the international umbrella for the sport and do have a right, as given to them by their membership, to execute according to their rules and regulations. The point, however, is that this should be done equitably…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the legal battle between Fifa and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) was submitted to Wired868 by Reverend Dr Iva Gloudon—a former Trinidad and Tobago international athlete, sport administrator, university director of sport and former ambassador to Jamaica:

It is my opinion that the matter of the TTFA-Fifa controversy has been mostly dissected through the lens of one-dimensional thinking, which has seen this important instance in the terms of a single linear factor and scale. It seems that most are of the opinion that we cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.

As far as I am concerned, this is not merely an issue of right and wrong. The TTFA, like most other sporting organisations in the world who want to participate in the ‘big leagues’, often sign on the bottom line without the full knowledge of the significance of the terms, or in the belief that the clauses which produce a niggling feeling in their stomachs will never happen to them.

And before you even think that this only happens with sportsmen and sportswomen who are really not too smart; let me remind you of the insurance policy that you signed when you were 21 years old, only to find that, when you turned 60, the outcome was a far cry from what you expected. Or the numerous applications that you downloaded on your smart phone, without knowing the serious consequences of doing so.

The TTFA has undoubtedly been in a mess for a long time; and so has Fifa. Indeed, we may have learned how to be corrupt in football from Fifa. No one in a local or regional body can carry on sustained defrauding of Fifa, without the assistance of someone inside of Fifa.'

Just as no one can defraud our Ministry of Sport without someone on the inside knowing or not executing their oversight. Nevertheless, in the case of Fifa, they are the international umbrella body for the sport and do have a right, as given to them by their membership, to execute according to their rules and regulations.

The point, however, is that this should be done equitably. No one can convince me that Fifa would have moved on any one of the first world countries in Europe or North America—who, by the way, have also had their challenges with corruption—in the same manner that they did with Trinidad and Tobago.

There are so many other respectful ways in which this could have been executed.

What has been fascinating and unprecedented is the manner in which we as a country have capitulated to them. From the highest level, during the ongoing court matter, the president of the TTFA was publicly ridiculed after he won the first case.

The person with responsibility for our Ministry of Sport found it prudent to shout across the land and all the way to Zürich that the TTFA President had won the battle, but lost the war. The head of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago, which is responsible for funding sport, made it openly clear that there would be a sharp reduction in funding to the TTFA if the association got suspended.

Most of the TTFA membership unceremoniously tossed out their president and then moved, cap and apology in hand with almost complete acquiescence, to implore Fifa and the normalising committee to return with no strings attached; completely defeated.

It is understandable why the membership of the TTFA would have done what they did. Sporting organisations have been at the mercy of all of our governments and mostly riddled with incompetent leadership.

There are many coaches and other technical persons who have worked assiduously and have not received their remuneration for months and, in some cases, for years.

But in the face of it all, why did they not have any demand for respect from Fifa or some input in the process? They just simply opened the door to our sovereign space.

It all speaks to the way that we have been indoctrinated for generations. Our court of appeal looked at the Fifa regulations and decided that we were a legitimate party to it, and therefore we now have to play by the rules.  Nowhere did the court of appeal say that Madame Justice Carol Gobin’s statements on the case were untrue. And that is because she singlehandedly got to the heart of the matter.

The court of appeal, however, ruled that in law, Justice Gobin did not have jurisdiction over the case. I do not agree with this linear thinking, but then I know my limitations, as I am no lawyer.

Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven (27) years in prison because the apartheid laws were legitimately on the South African books. Those in charge make the laws to suit themselves and those disadvantaged by the laws often have an uphill battle for justice.

Slavery for hundreds of years was legitimately on the law books. We black people were once considered mere chattel; but downtrodden men and women with the help of powerful allies fought for it to be taken off the law books.

The Windrush Exposé, a 2018 British political scandal which included Caribbean people of colour who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation and in many cases illegally deported by the British Home Office, is a recent example.

These included the first group of Caribbean persons who went to the UK in 1948 on the invitation of the British government, who needed their services at that time. Now, after all of these years, the British government wants to deport them.

These are all such devastating and overwhelming instances that today our minds are still mired by slavery, colonialism and elitism. We have not, in the words of Robert Nesta Marley, been able to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.

It is time for us to be liberated. It is time for us to pivot. It is time for our successive governments to stop merely using sport as political patronage. It is time for us to not only assess where we are with the administration of sport, but to also delve into how it is executed and what it takes for us to improve on what we are doing.

It is time for our corporate community to come on board with sport—not just at the back end but at the front end. It is time that our universities educate persons who can administrate sport, coach sport, and research sport, and not merely produce persons who are certified in sport.

It is also time that persons in sport, at every level, take hold of their skill and their craft with the determination to shape it into what it ought to be.

To the former TTFA president, Mr Wallace, I say that not many understand or can withstand that integrity comes before creature comforts, but you obviously do. That politicians are not always those who stand on principle, but you do. That the judiciary works under the constraints of the narrow law, but you do not, as you also understand the inconvenient truth.

You too, like all of us, have made mistakes, but I support you in what you were trying to achieve and thank you for your 30 years of service to sport.

Some of us know that sport is everything, as it teaches everything. It may yet be the way out of our national quagmire in determining who we really are as a people and as a nation.

RELATED NEWS

Dear editor: There was nothing ‘pyrrhic’ about Wallace and the UTTFA’s fight, history will smile on them.
Wired868.com


“[…] The UTTFA and supporters of its stand against the mighty Fifa might also be encouraged by the words of a martyr for the cause of Poland’s Solidarity Workers in the 1980s.

“Before he was brutally murdered on 19 October 1984, Father ‘Pop’ (Jerzy Popiełuszko) reportedly urged embattled workers with words that still ring true today:

“Truth never changes. It cannot be destroyed by decisions or legal acts. Telling the truth with courage is a way leading directly to freedom. A man who tells the truth is a free man despite external slavery, imprisonment or custody…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the stance of former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and the United TTFA slate against their removal by Fifa, was submitted to Wired868 by Anthony Rock of the St Joseph Training Club:

I read and re-read Wired868’s reporting on last Monday’s appeal court proceedings that preceded the judgement released on Friday 23 October 2020.

Although I was disappointed in the appeal court’s determinations on Friday 23 October, I was not completely surprised—having noted the line of the CJ’s probings and the questions and responses traded between attorneys representing the respective adversarial parties.

So yes, I got a very uneasy feeling before release of the court of appeal judgement that things may not turn out well this time for the party I champion in this still unfolding impasse.

But really those who would resist injustice, even at great sacrifice, should continue to take courage from Madame Justice Carol Gobin’s judgements on 13 August and, particularly, on 13 October. To my mind, she properly dealt with the United TTFA’s concerns of injustice, regarding who committed the wrongs and who was the victim.

The remit of the appeal court was only about whether the matters should have been adjudicated within the jurisdiction of the Trinidad and Tobago courts or somewhere else. Therefore the appeal court hearing was not about declaring on who was right and who was wrong in the substantial matters.

That was the business of the trial judge, Madame Justice Gobin; and she did attend to that business—except of course, as we now learn, her 13 October determinations are no longer of any legal avail, since the appeal court found (regardless of the merits of that high court judgement) that the matters should not have been heard here in the first case.

Thus the appeal court’s ruling of Friday 23rd October 2020 will abide henceforth (unless a privy council ruling later overturns its findings).

But for me, I remain on course with Justice Gobin’s findings. The lady judge confirmed my own layman’s findings prior that Fifa acted improperly, unfairly and in a high-handed manner with one of its vulnerable members. Fifa also behaved less than respectfully towards T&T’s sovereignty.

I think it is important for neutrals—indeed all—to revisit the 13 October 2020 judgement of Madame Justice Carol Gobin (both the determinations and its justifications) as well as the comments of UTTFA’s Wallace, published before the appeal court determinations were released.

No doubt battle-worn, Mr Wallace might take comfort that there are still a few persons, like-minded as himself, who in empathy shared his team’s efforts in boldly standing up for principle against the odds—in the face of impending deprivation and castigation.

The UTTFA and supporters of its stand against the mighty Fifa might also be encouraged by the words of a martyr for the cause of Poland’s Solidarity Workers in the 1980s. Before he was brutally murdered on 19 October 1984, ‘Father Pop’ (Jerzy Popiełuszko) reportedly urged embattled workers with words that still ring true today:

“Truth never changes. It cannot be destroyed by decisions or legal acts. Telling the truth with courage is a way leading directly to freedom. A man who tells the truth is a free man despite external slavery, imprisonment or custody…”

I thought that in Justice Gobin’s court, much of the truth in this unwholesome Fifa drama came out.

Incidentally, Trinidad and Tobago’s appeal court met to hear the matter between the TTFA and Fifa on the anniversary of Father Pop’s death on 19 October.

I regretfully note that, from the loud voices in opposition to the UTTFA’s stand, it seems in Trinidad and Tobago that admirable civic virtues such as: conviction in cause, faithfulness to statutory duty, patriotism, willingness to make sacrifice for a greater good, testicular fortitude, etc, are no longer relevant.

These are the virtues demonstrated in the actions of Messrs Wallace, Clynt Taylor, Sam Phillip, Keith Look Loy and the rest of the UTTFA team—and perhaps were never even countenanced by those who balk at the prospect of a Fifa ban.

But if our citizenry were imbued with the aforementioned civic qualities, particularly our leaders, we would throw off the shackles of self-contempt (picked up again by Bajan Prime Minister Mia Motley in her ‘Time to Pivot’) and defend the state from its enemies: internal and external.

Whatever losses are sustained to preserve the honour and dignity of our people can be regarded as ‘acceptable losses’. And therefore any victory—be it moral or temporarily legal—in pursuit of those priorities, cannot be ‘pyrrhic’ at all.

But as they say, it is what it is. And that continued in today’s TTFA EGM. So accordingly Mr Wallace, as you have seemed to have hinted this last week, take a bow and ride out, erect and tall. Whoa!

Perhaps eons later after reflecting, some whom you fought for—and maybe some who opposed you—might endorse the following inscription on your epitaph:

“True, true, true… The odds were against you; your own people too. Yes, eventually pummelled. Yet posterity TnT is grateful. You bravely reminded Fifa: ‘Football? Yes, but not at all costs’. It is important to stand up to a bully, get in a few well directed blows and expose him for what he is.”

So look out Fifa; and others peeking in. If iz heat yuh feeling, know iz Fire coming in!