T&T’s Senior footballers can well resume preparations to be ready for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup, with both qualifying tournaments set to take place next year.
Richard Ferguson, the Terminix La Horquetta Rangers managing director and owner who chaired Sunday’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), and later penned a letter to the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad yesterday, basically apologised to the FIFA for the legal battle that transpired over the past nine months.
The letter, which was also included the minutes of the virtual meeting, also requested the return of the normalisation committee, comprising Hadad, the HADCO Group of Companies director, former banker Nigel Romano and attorney Judy Daniel, which was in accordance with of the three FIFA requirement for the TTFA to rejoin FIFA as a member, after it was suspended on September 24 until further notice for violations of the FIFA Statutes.
Hadad responded on Monday to say that he received the letter, which was sent both by email and hand-delivered to his office.
At the meeting, the membership voted to remove president William Wallace and his vice presidents Clynt Taylor and Joseph Sam Phillip, all of whom did not attend the meeting, and call for the removal of all the TTFA’s court matters against the FIFA to be dropped. One of the United TTFA attorneys Dr Emir Crowne confirmed for Guardian media Sports that the matter in the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) had been dropped.
At Sunday's EGM Osmond Downer, the T&T Football Referees (T&TFRA) representative moved the motion which read: "Be it resolved that, in view of the precarious position that the TTFA now finds itself, this extraordinary general meeting of the TTFA decides that the way forward for the TTFA is for the TTFA to fully comply with its obligation as a member of FIFA, recognising the legitimacy of the FIFA appointed normalisation committee, and bringing its own statutes in line with the FIFA Statutes, and to fully cooperate with the normalisation committee in the fulfilment of its mandate as stated in FIFA's letter of March 17, 2020. Be it further resolved that all court matters existing between the TTFA and FIFA shall be immediately brought to a stop".
The motion was seconded by Keith Jefferys of Central FC and 33 of the 38 delegates present voted in favour of it.
Wallace and his attorneys - Matthew Gayle, Jason Jones, Crystal. Paul and Crowne took a decision to challenge the FIFA suspension through the CAS, after they felt the suspension, which came although the TTFA had filed documents to drop the FIFA case on September 23, the same day as the deadline was supposed to have been dropped. However, the 3 pm deadline was missed.
Ferguson said: "We're on the right path. we need now to repair the relationship with the different institutions and organisations before we can actually be looking forward to playing in the qualifying tournaments of the World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup."
T&T, in spite of the FIFA suspension in September, was included in the CONCACAF draw which saw them pull Montserrat as their preliminary round opponent. Ferguson said that once the normalisation committee takes over, they would be in charge of the TTFA and whatever changes they need to make to the constitution, they would be able to effect through the membership.
Both constitutional expert Downer, who helped drafted the TTFA constitution, and attorney Gayle, told Guardian Media Sports after the suspension that they were unclear about exactly what the FIFA was asking for when they requested that the TTFA bring its Statutes in line with FIFA's, if the TTFA wanted to be re-accepted as a member.
Randy Harris, president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) said: “You were suspended temporarily, obviously FIFA has made certain criteria that Trinidad and Tobago and all of us, would insert in their Statutes to ensure we don’t have a situation such as this reoccurring. You may understand if something like this is allowed to happen, people would be going to the ordinary Courts of Law for just about anything that they are not happy about. I don’t believe that Trinidad and Tobago’s FA has a lot to do in terms of legal wrangling, what they have to do is to ensure that they meet the Statutes required by FIFA. Barbados itself is going through a revision and a review of its Statutes, to bring it in line with what the FIFA requires from its members.”
Asked what the changes are, Harris replied: “It is exactly what’s in the Trinidad and Tobago Statutes that we don’t take disputes of any kind to the ordinary law courts, or courts in our respective jurisdiction.”
Harris pointed out that even before the normalisation committee was inserted in Trinidad and Tobago, the FIFA had been going through the statutes of many of its members.
Meanwhile, Ferguson called on the T&T to be humble at this point, saying FIFA does not need T&T. “FIFA gives T&T probably $2 million to $3 million US dollars per year, T&T does not give FIFA anything. We need to progress from here and we need to work towards playing in the World Cup and bringing T&T talent towards the international stage. What has transpired over the last year, has a lot to do with some emotions, a bit of aggression and a little bit of arrogance, so we really need to adopt a more humble approach,” Ferguson said.