FIFA has lifted financial restrictions imposed on the Jamaica Football Federation last year.

FIFA has extended its deadline for the TTFA to withdraw all claims against them currently before the Trinidad and Tobago Supreme Court.

Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner has left the hospital and now in quarantine as he continues to recover from infection with the coronavirus.

The 77-year-old former football official turned politician, confirmed in a statement that he had been released from the Couva Hospital on Sunday.

Warner was rushed to the hospital two weeks ago, after testing positive for the disease and experiencing some of the symptoms.  Warner, who had a tough time battling the disease, reflected that he would not have inflicted it on his worst enemy.

“This was not a good road trip and I will be following the medical guidelines to the dot and to the tittle not simply because it is my social and legal responsibility to do so but because the discomfort, the isolation, and the pain that one goes through is not an experience that anyone will wish for another,” the release read.

The former FIFA vice president said that he intended to spend his recovery out of the limelight and that he was thankful to God.

“During my period of recovery, I will remain in the shadows away from media contact and this is not because of any disrespect to this profession to which I have grown to love but rather to allow me to recover undisturbed; I would truly wish that my request for silence during this period is respected,” he said.

“Let me, first of all, thank God for this second chance and for His mercy in allowing me to unite with my family and also once again to thank my family and friends for being my source of comfort and strength along this journey and for their prayers for healing which ascended to the throne of grace and my behalf.”

A difficult battle with the coronavirus has left former Concacaf boss Jack Warner in a repentant mood, insisting he would not wish the affliction on his worst enemy.

The 77-year- old former football administration turned politician, contracted the virus two weeks ago, and has been in the hospital since.  Warner is, however, reportedly in good spirits at the Couva hospital and took the time out to thank all who have wished him well for their continued support.

At one point rumous had surfaced that the politician was gravely ill and had even succumbed to the virus.

“The outpouring of love and concern by people from all walks of life really caught me by surprise and for that, I wish to say a special thanks for the caring of which I am still the recipient,” Warner said in a recent post.

“One friend text me to say “any energy you needlessly expend is directing that energy away from your healing” so I spend my days praying, seeking God’s forgiveness to those I may have wronged and living with the hope that very soon this COVID-19 will pass not only for me but for the many who continue to suffer locally and abroad.”

Warner also warned citizens to continue to be vigilant and follow the guidelines of the government.  The former member of parliament still faces extradition to the United States, where he is expected to face corruption charges related to his time in football.  

The communications team of disgraced former CONCACAF boss and FIFA vice president Jack Warner has dismissed reports he is gravely ill from the coronavirus, with some even claiming he had died.

The reports claim the 77-year-old Warner, who campaigned for a seat in the Trinidad and Tobago General Elections last month, complained of feeling tired and was initially tested and released after being tested for cardiac issues.

A previously administered coronavirus test result, however, came back positive and the former football official was rushed back to the hospital.  Details regarding Warner’s condition have been sketchy but both his publicist Michelle Borde-Harvey and Facebook page insists the former MP is doing well.

“Mr. Warner has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in fact being treated. He wishes to advise all, that he is alive and in good spirits, as always,” the statement on the social media website read.

Warner unsuccessfully contested the Lopinot Bon Air seat in the election. He is currently battling extradition to the United States, based on charges levelled against him during his time in football.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed 29 people and infected 1, 984 in Trinidad and Tobago.  Warner became the second politician to be stricken by the disease.

 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino expressed joy at the announcement of ground-breaking law changes that should improve the rights of workers in Qatar, host nation of the next World Cup.

It was confirmed on Sunday that the Emir of Qatar had abolished certain restrictions in place for migrant workers in the country, with two new laws passed by authorities.

The changes mean workers are no longer unable to change jobs without their employer's permission, while a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyal – plus basic living allowances for some workers – has been introduced.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International hopes these steps will "strike at the heart of the abusive kafala system", a practice that requires so-called unskilled labourers to have a sponsor – predominantly their employer – in the country.

The kafala system had been widely criticised by campaigners for allowing some employers to exploit workers.

Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010, though their selection was shrouded in allegations of corruption, while the country's use – and reported exploitation – of workers in the meantime has led to moral objection to the tournament and uncomfortable questions for FIFA.

But world football's governing body sees these changes as a significant step in creating a positive legacy and lasting change in the region.

"We sincerely congratulate the State of Qatar on this significant step," Infantino said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"Since the FIFA World Cup 2022 was awarded to Qatar, there has been a major collective effort from the local authorities, our partner the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and the ILO [International Labour Organisation] to bring about positive change, and we are really pleased to see that this has materialised into concrete major progress in the area of workers' rights.

"Well before kick-off, this important milestone demonstrates the capacity of the FIFA World Cup to foster positive change and build a lasting legacy.

"There is definitely still room for further progress, and we will continue to work closely with the authorities and all stakeholders to promote a progressive agenda that should be of long-term benefit to all workers in Qatar, whether involved in the preparation of the event or not."

Ramon Vega says football has been heading for "collapse" for years due to financial mismanagement and action should have been taken long ago as the game is losing its soul.

The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on clubs all over the world and many were already in a precarious predicament prior to the global pandemic.

Championship clubs have paid the price for chasing the riches of the Premier League, while Wigan Athletic were relegated to League One after being docked 12 points for falling into administration just four weeks after they were taken over by a Hong Kong-based consortium.

There are concerns more clubs could go out of business and it is by no means only in England where they have fallen on hard times.

Former Switzerland international Vega's expertise in football and finance has been in increasing demand since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vega, who has forged a successful career in asset management since hanging up his boots and remains interested in becoming FIFA president, is concerned about the state of the game.

The ex-Spurs centre-back told Stats Perform News: "It had been going in the direction of collapse for quite a few years, COVID-19 has obviously speeded that up and put clubs in an even more severe situation. It should have been addressed a while ago.

"The key part is most of the guys had already spent the money before it came it. It's like having a salary and spending half of it already before you have it. Then if you realise you are not going to get that money you are going to be struggling, as you have no cashflow.

"It's very much on how the clubs are managed. Obviously, every club wants to be competitive, but it has to be sustainable.

"Over the last 10 years I think it's been a little bit highly leveraged in many ways; refinancing or getting money from right, left and centre, speculating on potential player transfers to pay back money.

"I think there must be a model in place where there are some reserves in place in case something might happen. Football can be unreliable with how successful you are being and maybe having a bad spell with transfers and being unable to sell players.

"If that income isn't coming in and you have no reserves, any business in the world would collapse."

Vega knows having such vast sums of money in the game has also had a positive impact, but he stressed the importance of striking a balance.

Asked if he is worried about the future of football, he said: "I'm a positive person and you have to be. Football always needs money, that's simple. But football and money doesn't always have to be at the forefront as it is now.

"In the last 10-15 years, money has improved the game and made a massive difference. That is fantastic, but the soul of the game is disappearing slowly and that is what I'm a little bit worried about.

"The soul of the game, the purpose of the game is disappearing a little bit. It's become machinery, that's why you see investors from within the financial industry coming into it, the pure emotions are not there, it is purely an investment.

"The more money that comes into football, the more people who are unemotional come into the game. They don't invest for the purpose of the game, it's for the profit."

FIFA has threatened to ban Trinidad and Tobago from international football should the ousted leadership of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) fail to withdraw their claim currently before the Trinidad and Tobago High Court by September 16.

On May 18, lawyers for the William-Wallace executive had filed an application in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court seeking a permanent injunction to prevent FIFA from interfering or seeking to override the “fair and transparent democratic processes of the TTFA and/or preventing them from removing the executive of duly elected officers from office.”

FIFA filed an appeal that was dismissed by the High Court. The ruling is being appealed by FIFA on the grounds that the judge made several errors in arriving at her decision.

Apparently, increasingly frustrated at being unable to have the dispute resolved, FIFA has now decided to flex their muscles.

In a letter to the head of the Normalisation Committee Robert Hadad on Wednesday, FIFA said it was “extremely concerned regarding the decision of the claim and the arguments used to dismiss FIFA's application. In this context, we draw your attention to art. 59 of the FIFA Statutes, which expressly contains the prohibition of recourse to ordinary courts of law unless specifically provided for.

“FIFA takes such a principle with the utmost seriousness and therefore considers that it is the responsibility of its member associations to ensure that this principle is implemented. We further wish to underline that the failure to meet these obligations may, according to art. 14 par. 4 of the FIFA Statutes, lead to sanctions as provided for in the FIFA Statutes, including a possible suspension.”

FIFA said its primary objective is that TTFA, as member of FIFA, shall mandatorily respect and implement their obligations, provided in the FIFA Statutes and that the aforementioned developments seriously derail the objective.

Football’s governing body insisted that the only recognised path to resolve the ongoing dispute is the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and requested the TTFA to ask the TTFA former leadership for an immediate withdrawal of the claim at the Trinidad and Tobago High Court by 16 September 2020, at the latest.

It said that failure to comply with this directive would result in the commencement of suspension proceedings via the relevant FIFA bodies.

Clubs will not be obliged to release their players for duty in September's international window if it will mean a period of quarantine.

FIFA has revised its rules after consultation with UEFA, whose member associations are involved in next month's international friendlies and Nations League matches.

With the COVID-19 crisis still affecting daily life across the planet, football's governing body has introduced temporary measures to help to reduce the health risk to players and impact on clubs.

As such, clubs will not have to release their players to represent their countries if it would involve a mandatory period of self-isolation of at least five days.

That applies whether the period of quarantine would take place in the country of origin or arrival.

"In light of the recent evolution of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to temporarily adapt the rules concerning the release of players during the upcoming September international window, which is to be played only by UEFA member associations," read a statement.

"The situation of the pandemic is rapidly evolving across the world and many national governments have again implemented travel and immigration restrictions due to a renewed increase in COVID-19 infections.

"Some of these measures directly impact international competition, such as mandatory periods of quarantine or self-isolation and travel restrictions.

"As a result, in order to ensure that the well-being and health of all individuals involved in international competition is respected, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has, after consultation with UEFA, decided that the general rules which normally oblige clubs to release players for national team matches should not apply in the following instances:

- there is a mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days upon arrival at:
- the location of the club which has an obligation to release the player to an association team; or
- the location where a representative team match is scheduled to take place;
- there is a travel restriction to or from either location (a. or b. above); and
- no specific exemption from the relevant authorities relating to the above decisions has been granted to players of a representative team.

"Furthermore, all participants in matches during international windows must abide by the health and safety protocols established by the relevant competition organiser."

The revised measures apply from August 31 to September 8 for men and from September 14 to 22 for women.

FIFA lodged an appeal today against the decision of the Trinidad and Tobago High Court to proceed with a claim from the former leadership of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) against the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council in March 2020 to appoint a normalisation committee for the TTFA.

FIFA is insisting that the only recognised path to resolve the ongoing dispute is the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

On August 13, Justice Carol Gobin ruled that the matter would be heard in the Trinidad High Court of Justice. However, in its notice of appeal, FIFA said the High Court judge erred on several points of law.

Cherie Gopie of Hamel-Smith and Co. who represent FIFA filed the notice of appeal.

Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul of the New City Chambers represent the TTFA

 

 The Trinidad and Tobago High Court of Justice delivered a blow to FIFA on Thursday when it denied football’s world governing body’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to adjudicate the dispute between the parties.

Both sides had submitted arguments before Justice Carol Gobin on July 29.

The TTFA and FIFA have been in dispute since March when FIFA dissolved the association’s administration who were in office four months and installed a normalization committee to oversee the affairs of the debt-ridden association.

TTFA took the matter to the CAS but later withdrew citing fears of institutional bias.

On May 18, lawyers for the William-Wallace executive had filed an application in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court seeking a permanent injunction to prevent FIFA from interfering or seeking to override the “fair and transparent democratic processes of the TTFA and/or preventing them from removing the executive of duly elected officers from office.

The TTFA was represented ly Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul of the New City Chambers while Fifa was represented Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie from M Hamel-Smith and Co.

FIFA now has 21 days to file a defence against an application for an injunction filed by the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA). FIFA has also been ordered to pay costs.

Trinidad and Tobago High Court Justice Carol Gobin will hand down a decision on August 13 whether the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) will be compelled to abide by the arbitration process at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or whether FIFA will be subject to the jurisdiction of the TT High Court in their ongoing dispute.

The TTFA and FIFA have been in dispute since March when FIFA dissolved the association’s administration who were in office four months and installed a normalization committee to oversee the affairs of the debt-ridden association.

TTFA took the matter to the CAS but later withdrew citing fears of institutional bias.

On May 18, lawyers for the William-Wallace executive had filed an application in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court seeking a permanent injunction to prevent FIFA from interfering or seeking to override the “fair and transparent democratic processes of the TTFA and/or preventing them from removing the executive of duly elected officers from office.

They are also seeking a permanent injunction against FIFA preventing FIFA and/or its agents from interfering with the day-to-day management of the association, including its bank accounts, website and real property.

Attempts at mediation failed when FIFA decided to withdraw citing a lack of confidentiality.

FIFA now wants the court to send the matter back before the CAS.

On Wednesday, the parties appeared before the Honourable Justice Carol Gobin after FIFA filed an application on June 15, 2020, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to adjudicate on the impending issues between the parties.

The TTFA was represented by attorneys-at-law Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Crystal Paul and Jason Jones of New City Chambers while FIFA was represented by Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie of M Hamel-Smith and Co.

Hamel-Smith submitted that the TTFA’s commencement of the proceedings before the TT High Court was an act beyond its legal authority and that the TTFA’s commencement of the proceedings before the TT High Court was done without the due and proper authority of those who purported to do so on behalf of the TTFA.

Hamel-Smith also submitted that proceedings be stayed in favour of arbitration at CAS as agreed between TTFA and FIFA. He also submitted that the permission initially granted to the TTFA to issue and serve the originating documents outside of the jurisdiction be set aside as, among other reasons, electronic service of the documents were contrary to Swiss Law.

However, in submissions for the TTFA, Dr Emir Crowne said the TTFA was created by an Act of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament and so if the Parliament intended to abdicate its supervision and/or jurisdiction over the TTFA- thereby ousting the jurisdiction of the TT High Court- then the Parliament would have clearly done so.

These submissions were made in support of Dr Crowne’s insistence that the matter before the Court posed far-reaching public policy implications of which the Court should consider.

As it relates to Swiss Law, Dr Crowne indicated that the question should not have any significant relevance since the alleged breaches, torts, property rights and other issues affecting the TTFA are all occurring and have its ultimate effect within Trinidad and Tobago, not Switzerland.

Further, he contended that the FIFA submitted no evidence before the Court to support its assertions regarding Swiss Law and the TTFA’s service of its originating documents outside of Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr Crowne also raised the issue of the institutional bias at CAS and whether there was, in fact, an enforceable agreement between the TTFA and FIFA to arbitrate before the CAS.

He submitted that the decision to be bound by the arbitration clause, as FIFA alleges, cannot be said to have been entered into freely by the TTFA given the drastic consequences to the TTFA of not being affiliated or participating in international football.

It will now come down to Justice Gobin’s decision on August 13.

“The TTFA, perhaps like many other stakeholders of Trinidad and Tobago football, patiently awaits the ruling of the Honourable Court in this Application,” said Jason Jones in a comment to Sportsmax.TV.

Prior to the start of Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Gobin asked whether the parties would consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. The TTFA said it was willing to engage in mediation. However, FIFA reiterated that it remains willing only to engage in arbitration before the CAS.

 

Gianni Infantino has again insisted meeting the Swiss attorney general was "perfectly legal" following the decision by the Swiss special prosecutor to open criminal proceedings against the FIFA president.

On Thursday, a statement from the Swiss Federal Council confirmed Stefan Keller had found "indications of criminal conduct" relating to meetings between Infantino and Michael Lauber.

Swiss attorney general Lauber offered to resign from his position last week after a court found he covered up an undisclosed meeting with the head of football's governing body and lied to supervisors while his office probed corruption relating to FIFA.

Proceedings have consequently commenced against Infantino and the chief public prosecutor of Upper Valais, Rinaldo Arnold. Keller has also requested permission to open proceedings against Lauber.

Both Infantino and Lauber have previously denied any wrongdoing and Infantino has promised to co-operate with investigators as part of his and FIFA's commitment to restoring "the credibility of the organisation".

In a statement, FIFA said: "FIFA acknowledges the decision of the Swiss special federal public prosecutor in opening an investigation regarding the meetings involving the FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber. FIFA, including the FIFA president, remains at the disposal of the Swiss authorities and will, as we have always done, co-operate fully with this investigation."

Infantino said: "People remember well where FIFA was as an institution back in 2015, and how substantial judicial intervention was actually required to help restore the credibility of the organisation. As president of FIFA, it has been my aim from day one, and it remains my aim, to assist the authorities with investigating past wrongdoings at FIFA.

"FIFA officials have met with prosecutors in other jurisdictions across the world for exactly these purposes. People have been convicted and sentenced, thanks to FIFA's co-operation, and especially in the United States of America, where our co-operation has resulted in over 40 criminal convictions. Therefore, I remain fully supportive of the judicial process, and FIFA remains willing to fully co-operate with the Swiss authorities for these purposes."

FIFA also reiterated Infantino's comments issued on June 25, when he said: "To meet with the attorney general of Switzerland is perfectly legitimate and it's perfectly legal. It's no violation of anything. On the contrary, it is also part of the fiduciary duties of the president of FIFA."

The Swiss special prosecutor has opened criminal proceedings against FIFA president Gianni Infantino relating to dealings with the country's attorney general Michael Lauber.

Lauber offered to resign from his position last week after a court found he covered up an undisclosed meeting with the head of football's governing body and lied to supervisors while his office probed corruption relating to FIFA.

Stefan Keller was appointed as special prosecutor to review criminal complaints against Infantino, Lauber and other individuals.

A statement from the Swiss Federal Council said Keller had found "indications of criminal conduct".

Proceedings have consequently commenced against Infantino and the chief public prosecutor of Upper Valais, Rinaldo Arnold.

Keller has also requested permission to open proceedings against Lauber.

Both Infantino and Lauber have previously denied any wrongdoing.

The Federal Council statement added: "The presumption of innocence applies to attorney general Michael Lauber, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and chief public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold. The special federal public prosecutor is independent in his activities."

Last week, a Bern court partially upheld a salary reduction for the period of one year for Lauber, who faced disciplinary proceedings after the supervisory authority for his office believed he breached official duties by meeting several times with Infantino.

A court statement last week said Lauber's sanction - a salary cut of eight per cent that was reduced to five per cent by the court - was justified based on "several breaches of official duty".

Infantino was voted in as the successor to disgraced former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter in February 2016.

Blatter, who was president for 17 years, and former UEFA counterpart Michel Platini were suspended from all football-related activity by FIFA in December 2015.

The adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's ethics committee ruled a payment of two million Swiss francs, authorised by Swiss Blatter to former France captain Platini, constituted multiple infringements of the FIFA code of ethics. Both men denied wrongdoing.

Blatter later saw an eight-year ban reduced to six on appeal but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed an appeal to have the suspension quashed in December 2016. CAS reduced Platini's sanction to four years.

Concacaf president Victor Montagliani has asserted the confederation is looking to fill eight spots at the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by Canada, United States and Mexico.

The ambitious plan could come to fruition as a part of a unique set of circumstances that surround the competition.  As hosts of the tournament Canada, Mexico and the United States will automatically be granted spots.  The situation will leave the region’s normal three and a half spots available to Concacaf’s other teams.  In addition, however, because it won the bid to host the tournament, Concacaf will receive another half spot.  Half spots are confederation playoffs between teams, which sees the winners advancing to the tournament.

According to Montagliani, a major part of the confederation’s focus will be on ensuring the region is able to take full advantage of the situation.

“What has been confirmed is that we have six direct spots and then we have a half a spot, which means we go to a playoff.  Now, because we also won the bid and we won the right to host the World Cup, we gained another half a spot.  So, that means we have six plus two halves,” Montagliani explained to the SportsMax Zone in an interview on Monday.

“I’ve been very clear that one of the reasons we are investing in the League of Nations, expanded Gold Cup and all the things that we are doing is because we really want to set that bar that we have eight Concacaf nations at the 2026 World Cup if we can win those play-off spots."

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