President of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Randy Harris says while the decision by FIFA to take over the administration of football in Trinidad and Tobago is unfortunate, an appeal against the move is likely to be unsuccessful.
While the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and others in the local football community have described as a coup, the plan by the world governing body for the sport to replace the board with a normalisation committee, Harris said FIFA was acting within the rules that all member associations (MAs) have agreed to play by.
TTFA president William Wallace announced Wednesday that the association has mounted a challenge to FIFA’s decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
He questioned why such drastic action was taken, considering no such move was made against the David John-Williams-led administration from which his executive inherited a TT$50 million (US$7.4 million) debt when it took over last November.
“This is a very unfortunate situation because we have a duly elected body of members to run the T&TFA,” Harris told Andre Errol Baptiste on I955 FM’s ISports radio show on Thursday. “The Trinidad and Tobago FA has found itself in a sad situation which all of us in the Caribbean could be in tomorrow.”
However, he said, an appeal would be an expensive option that had little chance of success.
“In this particular situation – in my view, based on my experience – it would be very, very difficult to win a case such as this because FIFA has a right to decide when they will introduce normalisation. If you read the statutes, basically we all agree to play under the statues of FIFA,” Harris contended.
FIFA said Wednesday that it was going the normalisation route because an assessment it carried out in conjunction with continental governing body, CONCACAF, found extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt that resulted in the TTFA facing “a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity”.
Harris noted that given the TTFA’s financial situation, it would be difficult for it to adequately administer football in the twin-island republic.
Against that background, he reiterated the need for the Caribbean to develop the sport so associations could all become self-sufficient and not have to depend on FIFA money.
“You can’t have it both ways…. The funds that FIFA is allotting to us is not a right, it is a privilege. FIFFA can get a president next week that decides that that is not the position that FIFA will take in the future. What will we do in the Caribbean?” he questioned.
“We need to get together and we need to work together to ensure that we develop football properly. Yes, we are individual MAs, but when it comes to education in the game, development in the game, searching for sponsorship, we need to get together and bring our numbers together.”
FIFA’s normalisation committee will have up to two years to carry out its work, including creating a debt repayment plan which the TTFA can implement, reviewing the local governing body’s statutes and ensuring their adherence to FIFA regulations, and overseeing new elections.
Until the committee is operational, FIFA has selected accountant Tyril Patrick, who is linked to the previous TTFA regime, to be in charge.
That move have also been questioned by Wallace who said expressed concern that Patrick had been “part of an administration that was part of a regime that led to the collapse of the association”.
In an interview on CNC3 TV online, former Trinidad and Tobago international goalkeeper and ESPN television analyst Neil Shaka Hislop said FIFA’s actions were “disingenuous and self-serving”.
“You do not install the accountant that oversaw the finances of the previous administration — that were there for the last four years while that debt mushroomed — as the interim in running our financial affairs,” Hislop said.
“Why you wait until some 10 years to install a normalisation committee into our football is beyond me. And all signs point to only one thing — that both the FIFA hierarchy and the CONCACAF leadership were in favour of the David John-Williams administration. Now, you have to question why that is, you can speculate, but I have my feeling about it, but you don’t overturn a legal, democratic election because you are disappointed that your man on the inside lost.”