Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)  led by William Wallace have written to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) expressing concern over what they have described as a “number of irregularities which have arisen, irregularities that have caused their clients to believe their right to a fair hearing has been impugned.”

Wallace and his executive have taken FIFA to CAS over the latter’s decision to appoint a normalization committee to oversee the running of the TTFA, which in effect sidelined the Wallace-led executive that was constitutionally elected in November 2009.

Among the concerns to which the lawyers - Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle - refer arose from correspondence from CAS in which it mentioned hiked costs Wallace and his executive are being compelled to pay in advance of the tribunal hearing while at the same time declaring that FIFA will not pay arbitration costs in advance in matters such as these.

The costs mentioned amount to 40,000 Swiss Francs or approximately US$41,000, which the Wallace-led executive, the Appellants, must pay in full. The lawyers said that they are unsure how CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees.

According to the correspondence obtained by Sportsmax.TV, CAS indicated that “as a general rule, FIFA does not pay any arbitration costs in advance when it acts as a Respondent in a procedure before CAS, which is admissible to CAS pursuant to Article R64.2 of the Code. This means that, according to the same provision of the Code, the Appellant has to pay the entirety of the advance of costs.”

In response, Dr Emir Crowne penned a letter to CAS on Thursday, May 7, arguing that the costs are unfair “…particularly since the hearing would have likely taken place by video conference and the usual travel costs of the panel and the CAS’ counsel would have been eliminated.

“To that end, we are genuinely unsure how the CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees. The Appellants are not from the developed world, nor are they as well-financed as the Respondent.”

The lawyers also argue that the matter is made even more alarming since the tribunal accepted without question FIFA’s submission that they wanted the matter heard by three arbitrators, thus tripling the associated costs.

“On its face, therefore, the CAS appears to be a willing participant in the Respondent’s gamesmanship, especially if the CAS had institutional knowledge that the Respondent – an entity with immeasurable financial resources – would not be advancing their share of the arbitration costs,” the lawyers said.

“This is at least an unacceptable display of apparent institutional bias.”

In light of the development, the lawyers revealed that FIFA subsequently issued a letter to the CAS indicating that they (CAS) must suspend FIFA’s response to the Appellants until the Appellants pay the full costs. CAS, they said, has agreed that FIFA should be able to benefit from the extension.

“As it stands, there are very real doubts that the CAS remains an appropriate and fair forum for the resolution of this dispute,” the lawyers concluded.

 

 

 

 

First Citizens Bank in Trinidad and Tobago has until Monday, April 27, to say whether anyone has attempted to gain control of the accounts of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA). Should they fail to do so they will be brought before the High Courts of the twin-island republic.

Amidst money worries and their ongoing dispute with FIFA, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association now has to contend with a demand from former coach Russell Latapy who says the TTFA has owed him money for years and he needs to be paid immediately.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, has ignored the concerns of ousted Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) President William Wallace, and completed negotiations with the organization’s Normalisation Committee for the use of the Home of Football to house those suffering the effects of COVID-19.

Rowley made the announcement while speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing on Thursday, saying the building could accommodate up to 72 people.

"It has been offered to the Government and the Government has accepted the offer. It has been evaluated and found to be excellent and my advise is that it can accommodate up to 72 persons of a category that will be designated by the Chief Medical Officer and the Minister. This is as good as any accommodation you can get anywhere in Trinidad and Tobago."

The Prime Minister added that the facility should be available within a week.

He also indicated that the Home of Football will be outfitted by the private sector.

"Within a week or so, that facility could be available. There are one or two things to be done. I may also add that the private sector has been approached to put in some put in some outfitting items and the private sector has come forward and has committed to ensure whatever is required to make it comfortable and fully utilised. It is offered to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago at no cost."

The multi-million dollar facility was opened in November 2019, but was temporarily closed one week after by Wallace.

Wallace claimed that the facility did not have property insurance or fire approvals.

Wallace did not have a problem with the use of TTFA facilities to help in the fight against COVID-19 but believes the government’s negotiations with the Normalisation Committee means offers legitimacy to it when he is the rightful head of the TTFA.

“This Committee has no legal or other standing in Trinidad and Tobago. As you are aware, the TTFA was formed by an act of Parliament(Act 17 of 1982) and is to be governed by its Constitution. The Constitution of the TTFA places the responsibility for negotiating and entering into any contracts or agreements on the President of the TTFA, a post I have held since the 24th November 2019,” Wallace had written in a letter to the Prime Minister.

The FIFA-sanctioned Normalisation Committee is being run by Robert Hadad.

Lawyers representing William Wallace and his executive have threatened legal action against First Citizens Bank in Port of Spain should they find that the bank has changed signatories to the accounts of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) without the required authorisation.

William Wallace, the ousted president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has written to the Dr Keith Rowley government expressing concern over its negotiations with the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee about the use of the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva as a facility to host COVID-19 patients.

Wallace and his executive are locked in a dispute with FIFA over the appointment of the normalization committee that football’s world governing body named in late March. The matter is before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

However, while he supports the use of the stadium as a holding facility, Wallace said he is the person the government should be discussing such issues with, as the normalization committee has no legal standing to do so. He also suggested the possibility of the committee profiting from the use of the stadium during a national crisis.

“I note with some concern reports in the media that the government has apparently entered into discussions with the Normalisation Committee led by Mr Robert Hadad, who was purportedly appointed by FIFA, in respect of the use of the Home of Football in Balmain, Couva,” Wallace wrote on official TTFA letterhead on Thursday.

“This Committee has no legal or other standing in Trinidad and Tobago. As you are aware, the TTFA was formed by an act of Parliament(Act 17 of 1982) and is to be governed by its Constitution. The Constitution of the TTFA places the responsibility for negotiating and entering into any contracts or agreements on the President of the TTFA, a post I have held since the 24th November 2019.”

 

Former Trinidad and Manchester United great Dwight Yorke has sided with FIFA in its decision take over the operations of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) last month.

FIFA’s latest football rankings published this week listed the Caribbean powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago at 105th in the world, their second-lowest in history.

A Normalization Committee appointed by FIFA is charged with sorting out dire financial and administrative affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA) but will the virus that has seen the regional giants plummet to their lowest levels all-time be tackled as well in this process?

The eight-time Caribbean Football Union (CFU) champions have now spent a 10th consecutive month outside the world’s top-100.

The last time T&T’s Soca Warriors were the top-rated Caribbean team on the FIFA Coca-Cola Rankings was October 2016. From 65th in the world three and a half years ago, they have steadily plunged to embarrassing levels, not good enough for a football programme that had long been regarded as the best in the Caribbean.

Absorbed in a political football power war in the past year that included acrimonious election campaigning and subsequent unseating of David John-Williams (DJW) as President, T&T’s football results have been ghastly.

The Coronavirus has dismantled all sporting schedules globally and maybe it’s a good thing for T&T’s football since the inactivity may have eased their fans from some more painful match results.

Former England international and 1986 World Cup defender Terry Fenwick is the new head coach, replacing Dennis Lawrence and the straight-talking ex-defender’s job is likely to be negatively impacted by the current administrative turmoil.

Indeed, there are already media reports of heated exchanges Fenwick has had with the Technical team over dissatisfaction with efforts to sort out passports for foreign-born players being targeted for T&T representation.

T&T’s football fraternity is divided over FIFA’s intervention that sidelined last November’s elected executive, whose attorneys Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne have now gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in an effort to annul FIFA’s intervention.

FIFA’s track record globally clearly indicates they are powerful enough and have the right to intervene in any of its 211 affiliates’ administrative affairs if they are deemed not to be following the FIFA Statutes -- rules and regulations – that they themselves have signed to.

Opponents of the FIFA intervention in T&T reason that it was indecently done, given the fact the new executive had only been in place for three months, trying to tackle massive financial problems that were largely inherited.

The fact that serious financial problems existed when John-Williams was boss and FIFA did not intervene, begs the question why didn’t they at the time? The answer is fairly obvious. John-Williams has a good relationship with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and profited from FIFA’s support and understanding.

Days ahead of the November 24, 2019 TTFA elections, Infantino attended the glitzy opening of John-Williams’s biggest project, the “Home of Football” in Couva and he praised DJW as a leader displaying “wisdom and vision” with the project the FIFA President said represented “an investment in the future”.

Unruffled that T&T were just coming off setting all-time records for longest losing streak, winless streak and run of games without scoring, Infantino downplayed results in a SportsMax interview with George Davis, declaring firmly that when there is a heavy investment in stability with an eye for future development it was wrong to make a “sporting result (loss)” become a “tragedy” or a “catastrophe”.

Asserting obvious support for DJW’s team ahead of the TTFA Elections, Infantino defended the Home of Football investment as a building tool for the country’s football. “You need to build, you need to be stable … and that’s exactly what has been done and then the results will come because of the seriousness of the investment. We have now a solid foundation in this so that football can grow and be built and I am sure this will happen in the future with John-Williams,” Infantino said.

Infantino’s “future with John-Williams” narrative was ruined by DJW’s 26-20 loss to William Wallace’s men at the TTFA polls and I suspect that as far as FIFA is concerned, the wrong men are in charge.

A FIFA/CONCACAF audited study of the TTFA’s Finances in February apparently triggered the move to step in and remove the elected officials even though General Secretary Ramesh Ramdhan had reported to local media then that the mission was favourable and that FIFA were on their side.  

Leadership of major sporting organisations has long been about politics and power and football presidency at the global and confederation levels perfectly illustrate this.

I attended a few Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress sessions that were open to the media during Jack Warner’s reign and saw the God-like sway he held over his subjects as a FIFA Vice-President and the CONCACAF Chief.

With that power, also came freedom to make unobstructed decisions, especially in a FIFA culture fashioned by Joao Havelange that while financially flourishing always had integrity question marks.

Brazilian Havelange, widely considered Warner’s mentor, enjoyed a 24-year reign -- before Sepp Blatter took over in 1998 – that boasted exponential football growth while never entertaining opposition. History shows you don’t fight FIFA and win so the odds are heavily against the relegated TTFA executive challenging this move by FIFA.

In the meantime, T&T’s football fans deserve more from their national team. Their October 2010 ranking of 106th in a brief sojourn outside FIFA’s top-100 almost 10 years ago, is the only ever weaker ranking position than they have now. Heading for a whole year outside FIFA’s top-100 as they are now, is unheard of in T&T’s glamorous football history.

How and when will the turnaround happen? Fenwick did not make it as a manager in his native England, but has had success in T&T, copping Pro League titles with Central FC (twice) and San Juan Jabloteh. He knows the T&T landscape well enough but appears short on the kind of talent that has propelled T&T’s International programme in the past.

Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad, Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano along with the yet-to-be-named others on a five-member panel will have a tough job resuscitating T&T’s football, especially in this contentious climate fraught with bitterness and legal dispute.

Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle, the lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have proposed that Mark Hovell, a solicitor from Manchester, England, be the sole arbitrator in their case against football’s world governing body FIFA.

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association have filed papers before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) seeking to set aside FIFA’s decision to appoint a normalization committee to oversee the running of the association.

Barbados Football Association (BFA) treasurer Adrian Donovan believes the Trinidad and Tobago FA are on their way to being suspended, considering recent retaliation against the implementation of a FIFA normalisation committee.

The football world governing body made the decision to disband the TTFA and implement a normalization committee, following what it claims was a fact-finding mission to the twin-island republic.  According to FIFA the TTFA had “extremely low overall financial management methods” and extreme debt.  In doing so FIFA quoted article 8:2 of FIFA’s statutes, which states, "Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time."

The William Wallace-led association has, however, since threatened to take the matter to the Courts of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) a move that Donovan considers a mistake.

“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that the TTFA will be suspended,” Donovan told the Barbados Advocate.

“In all of this FIFA is absolutely correct if they have to suspend this national federation because all those who signed off on the FIFA Statutes are expected to follow their rules and regulations,” he added.

“When you sign under FIFA rules and regulation and you have no legitimate evidence as to how you have spent their money, it is only a matter of time before the weight of FIFA would be felt.”

Since coming to office the William Wallace-led association pointed to mismanagement in the implementation of the Home of Football project, put in place by the previous administration.  The new executive seemed set to put into place another ambitious project at the Arima Stadium.

 

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the most powerful sporting body in the world and it should be.

FIFA is in control of 211 football associations throughout the world, in a sport that is the most popular and profitable on the globe.

However, the association hasn’t always used that power in the most judicious ways and recently went through a harrowing couple of years with evidence of widespread corruption beating down on its reputation.

Many bans and jail sentences later, FIFA has tried to change its image with new, progressive bosses with a more inclusive management style.

But, in truth, FIFA is a fiefdom and that was made very clear in the events in Trinidad and Tobago over the last week.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) board does not exist anymore and its president, scratch that, former president, looks set for a lengthy legal battle to change that.

I do not want to get into the who is right and who is wrong, even though there are questions FIFA should answer.

Here are the facts as we know them.

An arm of FIFA called the Bureau of the FIFA Council investigated the financial affairs of the TTFA, which had just gone through the process of electing a new president in William Wallace just over three months before.

According to the council’s findings, the TTFA was in bad shape financially, so bad, that it risked the possibility of insolvency if the situation were not arrested.

Further, the council says it found that there was no plan to assuage the situation, leading it to replace the TTFA’s board with a normalization committee that would be in place for a maximum of two years after which it would hold elections to create a new board with its own mandate.

On an interim basis, FIFA installed former TTFA Finance Manager Tyril Patrick to oversee the day-to-day activities of the organization before the normalization committee could be properly vetted, organized and begin to work.

According to FIFA, that normalization committee would be given a mandate to:

  • Run the TTFA’s daily affairs;
  • Establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA;
  • Review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress;
  • Organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate.

 

But today, the TTFA has no direction as interim boss, Patrick, declined the position after lawyers for Wallace wrote to him, calling his appointment illegal, or at the very least unconstitutional.

In fact, the former TTFA boss has not taken his ousting lying down and is contemplating taking his grouses to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, pointing out that FIFA has ignored his plans to get the TTFA out of debt and is claiming prejudice against his administration, pointing first up to the timing of the ‘coup d’etat’ and the implications of a friendship with the TTFA’s previous boss, as well as inconsistencies regarding a FIFA-TTFA joint project dubbed ‘The Home of Football’.   

I won’t look at any of that, however. I am more interested in the entrenched laws that allow FIFA to make a decision of this nature.

Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president, Randy Harris sympathises with the ousted TTFA administration but believes FIFA well within their rights to install a normalization committee.

Harris is right because of article 8.2 of the FIFA statute.

Article 8.2 states: ‘Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time’.

It is here that I have a problem though.

I suppose, FIFA, as arbiters of the sport, must have in its bylaws, appropriate actions to ensure the continued growth of the sport throughout the world, but I find this article distasteful.

The article admits that the council is removing an ‘Executive’ body which has been duly elected by administrators of the sport within a country. This means, FIFA is saying it reserves the right to ignore the democracy of an entity when it has a mind to do so.

I say ‘has a mind’, because it is the council who decides what is an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and in this instance, it very well might be. But the fact that it is FIFA making this judgement, is problematic.

Each Member Association has elections and it is there that they decide if the fate of their organization can be managed by its leaders. It should certainly not be as easy as it was for FIFA to overturn that decision.

It means, in essence, if a Member Association does not operate its own affairs just the way FIFA says it should, and each country has a different set of circumstances to deal with that could mean varying ways of operating such affairs, then you could find that you have no say.

Harris pointed to this fact in a radio interview with Trinidad and Tobago’s i955 FM’s ISports radio, saying “The Trinidad and Tobago FA has found itself in a sad situation which all of us in the Caribbean could be in tomorrow.”

Therein lies my problem. This particular ‘takeover’ may very well be warranted with the TTFA in debt to the tune of TT$50 million, the question is, who decides this, and how can it be that ‘little’ Member Associations have no say in deciding whether or not they need outside help?

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) are demanding that FIFA withdraw their letter appointing the normalisation committee following their failure to respond to correspondence challenging the legality of said committee and the appointment of an interim manager.

They also declared that Tyril Patrick’s decision to remove himself as interim manager of the TTFA further strengthens their position.

On March 21, 2020, Patrick, who was the accountant employed by the previous TTFA administration, responded to the attorneys’ assertion that his appointment was invalid, stating that he was no longer accepting the appointment and that he had informed FIFA of his decision.

The lawyers, Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne, in a series of letters to Member Association Services Manager Sofia Malizia, questioned the motives behind FIFA’s installation of the normalization committee that replaced the executive that was constitutionally elected in November 2019.

“The political backdrop of this matter is not lost on those we represent,” Gayle wrote. “The ‘existing debt of at least USD 5.5’ was wholly accumulated under, or as a consequence of actions taken during the previous TTFA administration.

“That notwithstanding, FIFA stood idly by and took no punitive steps whatsoever. Now, in the face of a new administration with less than three months substantive tenure, which now threatens to uncover the rank impropriety of the previous administration by installing a regime of financial probity, the FIFA steps in an attempt to prevent this.

“It is passing strange that you purport to have installed Tyril Patrick, the accountant who oversaw at least in part the amassing of the very debt that the FIFA now complains of.”

Gayle and Dr Crowne also questioned the veracity of FIFA’s decision.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association is a sovereign body established by an Act of Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago by way of Act 17 of 1982, The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (Incorporation) Act, 1982.

“The duly elected executive or any individual member may only demit office by operation of the constitution of the TTFA, which makes no allowance for the appointment of yourself or any other person to ‘oversee’ the day to day affairs of the TTFA as the FIFA letter purports to do or in any other capacity in place of the duly elected executive.

“It is, therefore, our client’s respectful view that the FIFA letter is null, void and no legal effect. It is not in any way binding on them.”

FIFA had until 8:00 am Monday, March 23, to respond to the lawyers but did not, which prompted the lawyers to draft another letter stating their position.

“As you will no doubt we aware by this point, Mr. Patrick has declined to accede to your unlawful and/or void and/or improper and/or unconstitutional attempts to interfere in the day-to-day running of the TTFA by the duly elected executive, led by President Mr. William Wallace,” Mr Gayle wrote.

“Our client’s respectful view is that your failure to respond by the stipulated deadline, coupled with Mr. Patrick’s clear indication that for his part he recognises the sovereignty of the TTFA, is a clear indication that FIFA itself has acknowledged the sovereign nature of the TTFA, ought rightly to put this matter to an end.”

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have written to FIFA, football’s world governing body questioning the timing of the appointment of the Normalisation Committee that has taken over the running of the association.

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