Lead Editor Sports
With the country still trying to digest FIFA’s decision to suspend the T&T Football Association (TTFA) until further notice on Thursday and yesterday’s resignation of TTFA second vice-president Susan Joseph-Warrick, the five remaining United TTFA members yesterday decided to continue their legal battle against the world governing body in the T&T High court.
At 7.38 am yesterday, the United TTFA served a “Notice of Withdrawal” of the application it made on Wednesday to withdraw its initial court matter against FIFA in an attempt to meet FIFA’s ultimatum. The new position means that the matter will proceed as stated on October 9 before Justice Carol Gobin.
The United TTFA team also filed an application with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, seeking a stay of FIFA’s decision to suspend the TTFA on Thursday. The case, CAS#7411/A Trinidad and Tobago Football Association v FIFA, is expected to be heard sometime within the next two days.
The response from CAS states: “Pursuant to Article R37 of the Code, FIFA is invited to submit its position on the Applicant’s application for a stay by 28 September 2020 at 10h00 (CET), which shall be sent to [email protected], putting in copy Counsels for the Applicant.”
The United TTFA’s application is an attempt to secure T&T’s place in the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament.
CAS has confirmed to the United TTFA legal team that the matter will be heard.
However, chairman of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee Robert Hadad yesterday told Guardian Media that T&T can still be part of the Gold Cup tournament if it withdraws all action and complies with the FIFA demands quickly.
“There is possible light at the end of the tunnel. I have learned last night the Concacaf Council decided that if we meet the requirements laid down by FIFA, and if FIFA lifts the suspension by December 18th, we will be permitted to compete in next summer’s Gold Cup,” Hadad said.
“However, if the suspension remains in place on that date, we will be automatically replaced. This presents us with an opportunity but only if we urgently address FIFA’s issues. I urge the membership of the TTFA and all football stakeholders in our country to get behind the Normalization Committee. Please work with us; it is the only way we can get the TTFA back on track.”
He added, “After recent events, I hope all football stakeholders in our country will work together with the Normalization Committee for the benefit of football. We have a very difficult task ahead but we owe it to the coaches, the players, the fans and to future generations to create a well-governed and well-managed TTFA.”
The latest scenario developed even as TTFA second vice-president and Women’s Football League (Wolf) president, Susan Joseph-Warrick announced her resignation from all football in T&T yesterday, becoming the first casualty of the fallout from legal battle between the TTFA and FIFA.
Joseph-Warrick’s announcement came less than 24 hours after FIFA officially suspended the T&TFA with immediate effect and until further notice. The ruling means that T&T cannot participate in any FIFA tournaments, events or programmes anywhere in the world until the suspension is lifted.
The ruling came after the United TTFA failed to withdraw its court matter against FIFA before the second deadline it was given by the world governing body. The United TTFA was challenging FIFA’s decision to appoint the Normalisation Committee to manage the affairs of football in T&T months after it took over the association.
Joseph-Warrick, who was elected as WoLF president in April 2019 on a two-year term, was the lone woman on the United TTFA slate that contested the November 24, 2019, elections and was serving alongside Wallace and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor and Joseph Sam Phillips.
In her resignation letter, she said: “This was a fight for principle and justice and I felt we were well supported in our actions by the football lovers in T&T. Within recent times it has become clear to me that we are also fighting against those that we represent; the associations, the clubs, the teams, supporters and sadly… the players.”
She also said she was surprised that the withdrawal papers had not been tendered in time to meet the FIFA deadline and avoid the ban.
“How and why these papers were filed after the 3 pm deadline is beyond me, and I am saddened and disappointed at the turn of events.”
Wallace’s team was removed from office by FIFA on March 17 and Hadad’s team was appointed on March 27 to manage the sport. This prompted the United TTFA’s legal challenge of FIFA’s decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland in April, which they withdraw in May claiming institutional bias in favour of FIFA as well as being unable to pay the 40,000 Swiss francs (TT$276,000) in associated costs. The matter was then lodged in the T&T High Court but FIFA objected, claiming the TTFA had breached its statutes which forbids member associations to take disputes to any other body besides CAS.
Guardian Media also learned yesterday that the current discussions and arrangements between national coaches and the Normalisation Committee for outstanding salaries will now be on hold until the suspension is lifted. TTFA administrative staff salaries for September will also not be paid and there will be no funding for any national programme during the suspension.