A dramatic week in T&T football ended with FIFA appointed supervisor Tyril Patrick writing to the global governing body on Saturday and turning down the position to run domestic football affairs until the FIFA appointed normalization committee is named and assembled. This came less than 24 hours after the T&T Football Association’s (TTFA) legal team led by Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne wrote to Patrick on Friday in a final warning in a letter threatening legal action.
The three-page legal letter signed by Gayle, obtained by Guardian Media Sports told Patrick, the current TTFA Finance manager, “the constitution of the TTFA makes no allowance for the appointment of yourself or any other person to ‘oversee’ the day to day affairs of the TTFA as the FIFA letter purports.”
In saying that the FIFA letter, which asked Patrick to oversee the day to day running of local football, is of no legal effect, the TTFA’s lawyers also threatened to return force should there be any repercussions to local football. “Any attempts to hold football in Trinidad to ransom with threats of further and/or more punitive steps will also be met with forceful resistance by those who have retained us,” the legal letter read. It called upon the TTFA finance officer to distance himself from taking further steps towards acting on his FIFA appointment.
FIFA's letter from Secretary General Fatma Samoura stated: Under these serious circumstances, and in accordance with article 8 paragraph 2 of the Fifa statutes (which foresees that executive bodies of member associations may, under exceptional circumstances, be removed from office by the Fifa Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time), the Bureau of the Council decided, on March 17, to appoint a normalisation committee for the TTFA.
While Patrick was given until 8 am on Monday to respond, he wrote on Saturday morning to the TTFA’s attorney stating, “I would like to confirm via this email that I am no longer the interim manager at TTFA. I am no longer accepting the appointment and I have informed FIFA of my decision.”
His decision was lauded by former FIFA vice president Jack Warner who told Guardian Media Sports FIFA was out to use Patrick. Warner said, “I think what Patrick did, in my humble view, is the respectful thing of not taking up FIFA’s bait and allowing himself to be used and I admire the young man. I don’t know him, but I admire him now more than ever because he refused to allow himself to be a pawn or a tool to be used by FIFA and their agents.”
Patrick’s rescinding of the appointment left the question as to who would run the daily affairs of the TTFA after a dramatic week which saw FIFA disband the local governing body via letter dated March 17, and addressed to the TTHFA's general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan in its move towards installing a normalization committee.
Ramdhan confirmed to Guardian Media Sports yesterday that he can go to the office because he was not removed by FIFA. The elected members along with the board of the TTFA were removed. Ramdhan is the head of the secretariat and had been told to report to Patrick by the FIFA but he refrained from doing so.
Less than a day after the announcement was made by the FIFA that it was sending in a normalization committee, the TTFA president William Wallace announced on Wednesday that it was taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Wallace said on Wednesday that, "We took a while to get over the shock, it was total disbelief. Since then we have pooled our resources together and have decided that this is injustice, it is disrespect, it shows some political play going on here to protect, I don't know who, but clearly, this is unprecedented when you look at what those committees are set up to do. It is in cases of political interference, political turmoil, democratic processes such as elections. Our elections were supervised by the FIFA and CONCACAF, so there were no issues with the elections, but now they are saying because of the same financial deficiency that we pointed out to them when they were here, they are now using that as a reason, but we have gone beyond that, we have put things in place."
Ramdhan said certain procedures needed to take place before the matter reached CAS. After the TTFA issued a letter to the FIFA this week, it is understood the local body was not happy with its response and has since written to the FIFA once again, giving them until 8:30am on Monday to respond.
Ramdhan said, “We have to follow certain protocols before we take the matter to CAS. We were not satisfied with FIFA’s response after they took three days, so we have again written them and asked them to deal with the substantive matter of the letter.” The formal proceedings to take the matter to CAS could start as early as tomorrow judging on FIFA’s response to the TTFA.
Gayle's letter also stated that: "The proper membership of the executive of the TTFA therefore consists of the following persons: William Wallace, Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick, Joseph Sam-Phillip, Kieron Edwards, Richard Quan Chan, Rayshawn Mars, Desmond Alfred, Dwayne Thomas, Brent Sancho, Jamyila Muhammad, Phullip Fraser, Joseph Taylor, Keith Look Loy (colectively the "Duly Elected Executive).
As such, the normalization committee was appointed to run the TTFA’s daily affairs, establish a debt repayment plan, review and amend the TTFA Statutes to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA Executive Committee for a four-year mandate.
On March 15, the TTFA closed its office and told staff to stay at home for one week because of the Covid-19 pandemic and report to work on March 23. A decision was also taken to suspend all national football team training and screening sessions until further notice.