William Wallace, who was removed as the president of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) has made it known that he and his executive, vice presidents Clynt Taylor, Joseph 'Sam' Phillip and Susan Joseph-Warrick, are still in charge of the management of the sport in T&T.
Wallace, who is also the president of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), said in a video statement on Wednesday that he can only be removed by the operations of the TTFA's constitution and not by the sport's world governing body-FIFA, of which the country (TTFA) is a member.
On March 17, the FIFA informed the General Secretary of TTFA Ramesha Ramdhan that the executive has been removed and a normalization committee will govern the sport in T&T after it was felt that the instability of the TTFA, coupled with its unconvincing plans to clear debts that have crippled the sport for many years in the twin-island Republic, had left a lot to be desired. As such the FIFA enforced Article 8.2 of its Statutes, allowing a normalisation committee to take control of the sport for a maximum of two years.
The FIFA, which is headed by Gianni Infantino, who Wallace has fingered as a known supporter of the previous TTFA administration under David John-Williams, agreed to remove the William Wallace-led football executive, which was just three months into its four-year tenure, after being elected on November 24. On March 27 FIFA named the Normalisation Committee with businessman Robert Hadad as chairman, and Environmental Specialist and attorney Judy Daniel, as deputy chairman together with retired banker Nigel Ramano and said that two other members will be named soon. On Monday, the TTFA challenged FIFA's decision through the Court and Arbitration for Sports (CAS) based in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the FIFA headquarters is located.
However, Wallace made it clear that his association was formed by an act of Parliament to serve the public interest in the nation.
He said, "That our relationship with FIFA is vital. We the duly elected executive of the TTFA, cannot simply ignore the decision of the FIFA, which seeks to impinge on our national sovereignty and jeopardise football in T&T. We remain, however, committed to working constructively with the FIFA, and other international organisations in the interest of the sport and the interest of T&T."
In his video statement on Wednesday he said: "It is for this reason that two evenings ago, I gave instructions to the TTFA Attorneys to file an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), challenging FIFA's decision to attempt to interfere with the day-to-day affairs of the TTFA. The Attorneys have confirmed that this was done and that we have been assigned a case number (CAS 2020/A/6915).
"FIFA and its purported normalisation committee, headed by Hadad, had no standing. Make no mistake about it, we the duly and properly elected executive of the TTFA, remain in charge of the association's business."
Only this week, the TTFA, through its lawyers Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew GW Gayle officially filed an application to challenge FIFA through the CAS after paying a fee of $1,000 Swiss Francs. It is expected to pay another undisclosed amount for the service of the arbitrators.
Also on Wednesday, Wallace sought to dismiss claims the embattled football association could face being banned for challenging the FIFA.
The TTFA lawyers have proposed that Englishman Mark Hovell, a solicitor from Manchester, England, be the sole arbitrator in their case against football’s world governing body FIFA.
Hovell is a highly experienced sports lawyer and insolvency practitioner who specialises in regulatory, governance, commercial and financial matters, across all sports, both in the UK and across the world.
Additionally, he sits regularly as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and The FA's regulatory commissions.
FIFA has until April 14 to submit their comments regarding the request - whether they agree to a sole arbitrator deciding matters and Hovell's appointment.
The local football boss said they are only following the guidelines of the FIFA Statutes, which gives member associations the right to challenge FIFA if they feel wronged in a situation. He made it clear he was not thinking about facing any suspension for the actions of the TTFA. However, Wallace promised it would be another matter, if the TTFA should be banned for following the Statutes of the FIFA, saying they will deal with that if and when it comes.
He told Guardian Media Sports yesterday that member associations could face a different action by FIFA if they challenge the world governing body through the local courts.