Just days after FIFA agreed to reaccept the T&T Football Association (TTFA) as a Member Association after a violation of FIFA Statutes led to a suspension on September 24, the football's world governing body could again be called in for a breach of the constitution in the T&T Super League (TTSL).
Jameson Rigues, interim president of the Super League gave this assurance in the wake of a desire by the Board of the TTSL to hold the League's annual general meeting (AGM) and election of officers virtually on November 29, a decision that Rigues claimed will not honour the process of a secret ballot, which is a requirement in the election of officers. He also said he will attempt to ensure that suspended clubs, which have served their suspension, should be allowed to vote.
Rigues, the former Guaya United manager, will be contesting the presidency with former Strike Squad captain and national coach Clayton Morris, his only opponent.
Rigues was out-numbered 4-1 as a board member in deciding whether the election should be held or not, with the other members being Eddison Dean, Colin Murray, George Joseph and Anderson Veronique. The quartet is insisting that the election can take place by enforcing article 58 of the bylaws, which allows for force majeure, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Yesterday, however, Rigues said: "All of our principles and documents as it relates to the functioning of the TTSL states that the election of a president must be done by secret ballot and we haven't found anywhere as yet where that could take place, where secret ballot can be done effectively via any of the virtual platforms. While the virtual platform may attempt to have some kind of mechanism where the voting can take place, it is not 100 per cent secret."
The TTSL boss made it clear even with the force majeure clause that is being suggested by the board members, it will infringe on the membership, saying why should they attempt to take away the right of the members to a secret ballot.
Contacted yesterday Rigues, when asked the distance he was prepared to go, said: "It is a matter of what our bylaws, our constitution and the electoral code state. So the distance, I intend to go is to follow these documents, and for instance, the electoral code is very strict in terms of what it is outlining.
"The electoral code also states that failure by the TTSL to apply by the principles of the electoral code can be considered a serious violation of the provisions of article 13 of the FIFA Statutes. And this shall lead to consequences and these consequences we are talking about are disciplinary measures. The TTFA just faced a suspension based on its decision to divert from the FIFA Statutes and this is provided for by the FIFA."
The TTSL boss said that they are running a great risk of going against the electoral code which also means going against the FIFA Statutes, noting that when it is asked the distance he was willing to go, the matter could reach as far as FIFA.
He made it clear as the legal representative of the TTSL he has to do anything in his power to ensure that the TTSL operates legally, even though being opposed to the views and opinions of the members of the board, he has to take a legal stance, saying: "The process is that in the case of any breach, then FIFA or TTFA or whoever should be allowed to come in and do what's necessary, then so be it."
Meanwhile, Kieron Edwards, the Eastern Football Association (EFA) president who was the driving force behind the TTFA membership taking action against William Wallace and the United TTFA, said he will ensure that TTSL members who were suspended back in 2018, would be allowed to vote at the coming elections, even if it means having the elections postponed.
Edwards was called on by the seven suspended clubs- Central 500, Defence Force, Harlem Strikers, Marabella Family Crisis Centre, Tobago Phoenix, WASA and the Youth Stars to find out the current status. The clubs were suspended for either being non-compliant with the TTFA/CONCACAF/FIFA or they were unable to pay the registration fee to gain entry into the League.
Edwards submitted a letter to president Rigues that contained the signatures of the seven clubs, saying when he went through it, he realised that most of it were for late payments.
"We found out that the membership never had a meeting to ratify the suspension, so this AGM will be the right opportunity to have this addressed. In order for it to carry, the membership needs a two-thirds majority to continue the suspension, according to the board so they are hoping that is aired at the meeting and they can know their fate on whether they will be reinstated into the Super League with full voting rights and any payment they have to make they are willing to clear it up."
It is understood the Super League's former president proposed to have the clubs suspended a third time, on the basis of not competing in activities of the League for two consecutive years.
In the letter to Rigues the clubs stated that its suspension was up by December 15, last year. And the embattled president said he will ensure that all clubs are treated fairly, noting that a press conference will be called soon to ensure: 1. The election must be postponed until the post-COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and in keeping with the TTSL Constitution; 2. The Board Directors are now runaway individuals whose sole interest is not the TTSL but Keith Look Loy; 3. The press conference will call for all TTSL member/shareholders to have eligibility to participate in the election.
The clubs' letter to Rigues state:
I hereby advise you of the decision taken by the TTSL Board to suspend your membership in the League due to your club's failure to participate in TTSL competition for two years - 2018 and 2019.
At the General Meeting of March 3, 2018, the following Board proposal on TTSL membership was unanimously approved: a) A club which did not participate in 2017 TTSL competitions and which does not register for 2018 competition will lose its TTSL membership and will be refunded its TTD $1,000 share capital. b) A club which participated in 2017 TTSL competitions but does not participate in 2018 competition due to its being declared non-compliant by TTFA will retain its TTSL membership for one (1) year (2018) during which time it must secure TTFA compliant status or lose its TTSL membership. c) A TTFA non-compliant club which retains its TTSL membership for one (1) year (2018) will exercise all TTSL membership rights except the right to vote in meetings.
However, the president stated that, on review, under TTFA’s Constitution a suspended member loses all membership rights until reinstated. Accordingly, if a TTSL member is declared non-compliant by TTFA after March 31, 2018, that member must also lose all rights within TTSL until it secures compliant status.
Further to this, at the General Meeting of April 7, 2018, the following motion was unanimously approved: “A club which did not participate in 2017 TTSL competitions and which does not register for 2018 competition will lose its TTSL membership and will be refunded its TTD $1,000 share capital and in the case of a new TTSL club/member, its TTD $5,000 caution fee”.