Attorneys acting on behalf of the T&T Football Association- Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle, have agreed to take their case to the next level which will be a pre-action protocol letter that will officially initiate court proceedings through the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland, against the world governing body for football - FIFA.
This became necessary after FIFA, failed to respond to their (TTFA) letter by the scheduled time of 8:00 am on Monday. The letter asked FIFA to rescind its decision to send a Normalisation Committee to run the affairs of T&T football.
On March 17, FIFA decided to enforce article 8 paragraph 2 of the Fifa Statutes (which states 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), as it believed that TTFA was on the verge of insolvency.
FIFA decided after a three-man Financial committee visited T&T in February and examined the TTFA books after its accounts were frozen on February 13, following a high court order by one its former employees.
However, the embattled football association, being led by William Wallace has agreed to challenge this, saying that FIFA's action was prejudicial, unjustified and the move was without merit. Wallace and his three vice presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph 'Sam" Phillip, who would have made exactly four months into office following their November 24, 2019 election triumph, gave FIFA an 8:00 am deadline on Monday to respond by rescinding their decision. TTFA's former general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan told Guardian Media Sports yesterday that TTFA lawyers received no communication from FIFA.
Ramdhan, a former TT referee who participated at the 1998 World Cup admitted they were not at liberty to make comments for fear of prejudicing the case, but stands by his association's position that his administration, which has done a lot in the little time they were in power, will fight against the injustice of FIFA.
Ramdhan noted that his administration had only received the support of three out of the 31 members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), all of whom requested to remain anonymous for fear of victimization by the CONCACAF and the FIFA. After a letter and phone call was sent to all CFU members on March 19, said: “We got responses from three members, all supporting the stance we are taking. But they are so afraid that if they are known, they will be targeted. The other members did not even bother to acknowledge our call, such is the divisiveness that exists among the regional territories.”
According to Ramdhan, this divisiveness among our Caribbean members was championed by former TTFA president David John-Williams, who the CONCACAF and the FIFA have used to achieve their mandate. From the 41 CONCACAF nations, 31 are from the region, an advantage in numbers that is under-utilized, due to a perceive dependency by the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Association Football and the- FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations), Ramdhan said.
Meanwhile, Ramdhan also sought to clear the air on the debt of the TTFA, saying it has been confirmed as $50 million. In his letter addressed to the FIFA on January 13, the TTFA put the debt at TT$33.7 million. However, the TTFA general secretary said: “Presently the outstanding balance owed concerning the Home Of Football is approximately $2 million. The amount of confirmed debt TT$15,211, 861.50. Attached for your information and yet to be determined is TT$25 million which represents two matters which are before the courts, the Jack Warner and Sheldon Phillips matters. These figures can change dramatically based on the current trend.”
He explained that attempts were made to pull the Sheldon Phillips matter out of the court with an attempt to settle amicably between the parties, both Phillips and Wallace have been having talks to find a resolution.
<CFU Boss: Challenge to FIFA takeover likely to fail>
Meanwhile, President of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Barbadian 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).
On Thursday Harris told Andre Errol Baptiste on I955 FM’s Sports radio show that, "The T&TFA 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 on March 17, that it was going the normalisation route because an assessment it carried out in conjunction with the 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.
“You can’t have it both ways…. The funds that FIFA is allotting to us is not a right, it is a privilege. FIFA 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.
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.