It was a show of total support for the future of T&T football yesterday at a Zoom meeting called by Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe, as the sport's entire membership, with the exception of United T&T Football Association (TTFA) members William Wallace, Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Philip, said they were not in support of the country being sanctioned by FIFA, the sport's governing body.
Cudjoe said in spite of repeated calls to Wallace's phone on Thursday to get his involvement, they received no response which was unfortunate. Wallace has been at the forefront of a battle with FIFA, to overturn a decision to appoint a Normalisation Committee to manage local football, back in March 27.
But after Justice Carol Gobin gave the ousted members a first-round victory on August 13 by ruling that the High Court in T&T will be the jurisdiction to settle the dispute, FIFA's secretary general Fatma Samoura, delivered a stern letter on Wednesday, warning the United TTFA if it did not comply with the organisation's Statutes, the country faced severe sanctions that could see all its national teams out of all FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, such as World Cup qualifiers, Club Championships, CONCACAF tournaments, etc.
Cudjoe reminded the stakeholders that there were far-reaching implications to come from a FIFA ban, that was more important than the cause being fought by the quartet who was removed from office on March 17 after claiming victory in the TTFA elections in November, last year.
The minister said the future of the athletes was at stake, noting that we cannot afford to shatter the dreams of many young men and women who may be carving out a life in the sport, also reminding the stakeholders that the real power lies in the hands of the general membership.
“This is more than proving a point, but rather what it would mean for the young people who are dependent on the sport. I was surprised that everyone here was not in support of Wallace and his team, but rather the normalisation committee, so now they are going to rally their troops,” said Minister Cudjoe.
It is understood that a petition is being circulated with an aim of getting signatures of the membership to stop the court battle of the Wallace team. The petition, Guardian Media Sports learnt is also set to receive the signature of the Women's Football League (WoLF), whose president Joseph-Warrick, is a vice president.
Cudjoe also revealed that should the country get banned by FIFA, the government would not put out as much of tax-payers money to fund it, as she made a stark difference to the country's pursuit of World Cup glory to anything else.
She also said it would be unfair for tax-payers funds to be put towards a football entity that is burdened by debt, and refuses FIFA financial help through the normalisation committee.