TT Football Association president William Wallace and his deputies Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip – have filed their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) saying the move was fuelled by oblique moves and done without legal authority.
The appeal, filed by attorneys Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle, seeks to have FIFA’s decision to appoint a normalisation committee to run the local governing body set aside.
They have nominated sports attorney Mark Hovell to be the sole arbitrator of its appeal filed on Monday.
Hovell is an arbitrator at the CAS and has heard over 200 cases.He was also selected to the CAS ad-hoc committee for the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games and was one of 12 arbitrators for the 2016 Olympics. He is also on the UK sports resolutions tribunal panel and is accredited to the UK’s national anti-doping panel.
Wallace and his team asked that the appeal be expedited because of its importance to TT football. They want it heard in-person in TT after June 1, because of the ban on international flights entering TT – a measure put in place by the Government to combat the spread of covid19.
In the alternative, if TT’s borders remain closed beyond June 1, they have suggested it be heard by video-conferencing. Whatever means the appeal is heard, the local governing body has asked that it be open to the public.
TTFA, Wallace and the others have already paid the relevant fees – 1,000 Swiss francs or TT$7,000 - for the appeal in which they say the appointment of the normalisation committee was “exclusively disciplinary in nature” since it had the effect of removing them from their duly elected offices.
FIFA implemented a normalisation committee, headed by local businessman Robert Hadad, on March 17 and replaced the TTFA’s board, based on mounting debts and financial mismanagement.
Wallace took over from David John-Williams as TTFA president on November 24, 2019.
It is the contention of the TTFA and its ousted executive that the decision by FIFA was not binding on them as the body’s constitution makes no allowance for anyone to “oversee the day to day affairs” of it.
Wallace and the others also insist that the debts complained of by FIFA were accrued by the former TTFA administration and insist that any attempt to hold football in TT to ransom will be met with forceful resistance.
In a March 17 letter to TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan, secretary general for the world governing body for football Fatma Samoura advised that the joint FIFA-Concacaf mission which visited TT evaluated the financial controls and processes in place at the TTFA and its general financial position since its bank accounts were frozen.
The letter said the joint mission was to make suggestions for improvements where needed.
“The mission found that the overall condition of financial management and financial governance is extremely low or non-existent at the TTFA. There are currently no formal internal policies and internal controls in place, such as procurement, delegation of financial authorities, financial planning and budgeting, effective oversight of funding and management reporting, which are necessary to meet the TTFA’s objectives.
“Moreover, there is also a lack of: documented policies and procedures, financial planning and management of statutory liabilities. Finally, there is no short- or long-term plan to address the situation, which would require urgent, strong and efficient measures.
“Indeed, the combination of the above situation and an existing debt of at least US$5.5 million means that the TTFA faces a very real risk of both insolvency and illiquidity if corrective measures are not applied urgently.
“Such a situation would, amongst other unwanted consequences, put FIFA’s development investments in the TTFA at risk of being seized by creditors. Another important finding is a potential liability on the TTFA for several years of unpaid payroll taxes to the government,” Samoura said.
He advised that the Bureau of the Council of FIFA had decided, in accordance with article 8.2 of FIFA Statutes, to appoint the normalisation committee.
The committee was mandated to run the TTFA’s daily affairs; establish a debt repayment plant and review; amend the TTFA statutes where necessary and ensure they follow FIFA’s before submitting them for approval to the TTFA congress and organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive for a four-year mandate.
In a subsequent letter, Wallace and the others were told that the normalisation committee will act as an electoral committee whose decisions are final and binding but will not be eligible for any open positions in the elections, even if their appointment was revoked or they resign.
The normalisation committee’s mandate is for no more than 24 months or when it has fulfilled all of its tasks.