THE former TT Football Association (TTFA) executive, led by ousted president William Wallace, is hoping to settle their dispute with FIFA out of court, suggesting the matter be resolved through mediation.
TTFA attorney Matthew Gayle, in a letter on Monday addressed to head of litigation at FIFA Miguel Lietard Fernandez Palacios, wrote, “Since your having been served, it was brought to my client’s attention from a report in the public press that FIFA may be willing to consider the possibility of a mediated settlement in the matter. This would appear to be in response to the suggestion by my co-counsel to the effect that as a matter of principle a mediated response is always to (be) encouraged in such disputes, so as to best preserve the long-term relationship of the parties.”
The former TT executive is fighting FIFA on its decision to disband the group, claiming FIFA has no right to interfere with a democratically-elected local body. The TTFA is being represented by Gayle, Dr Emir Crowne, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul.
On May 18, the former TTFA executive decided to take the matter against FIFA to the TT High Court instead of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The TTFA felt they would not get a fair hearing at CAS.
Wallace and his team served claim documents to FIFA to indicate whether they want to defend themselves. The TTFA gave FIFA eight days, starting May 19, to respond.
FIFA responded saying they intended to defend it. Dr Claude Denbow SC and junior counsel Jerome Rajcoomar will be representing FIFA after filing their entry of appearance in the High Court on Tuesday.
The Wallace-led executive was removed from office by FIFA on March 17 after less than four months in the job.
The former executive was replaced by a normalisation committee led by local businessman Robert Hadad. The committee was formed to run the affairs of local football, including getting rid of the $50 million debt facing the local football body.
In his letter, Gayle also referred to the situation where FIFA agreed to help the Zimbabwean Football Association (ZIFA) clear its hefty debt. Gayle is hopeful that FIFA may be more willing to find an amicable resolution with the TTFA like what FIFA did with Zimbabwe.
“The ongoing dispute between the TTFA and FIFA will only have a deleterious effect on the sport which serves no proper purpose. That being said, the approach recently adopted by FIFA in respect of the Zimbabwean governing body of football does seem to suggest a more sensitive approach to FIFA’s duties towards national bodies.”
The Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe, on Saturday, reported that FIFA would “bail out” ZIFA of its US$10 million debt.
Gayle said they can take their request of mediation to the court.
“Furthermore, in default, of the parties having made considerable progress in these without prejudice discussions by the date for filing your defence, my client will be seeking an expedited trial of the matter.”
Jones, in a follow-up, sent a letter on Thursday to Donna Denbow of the Law Offices of Dr Claude Denbow SC, reiterating what was said by Gayle to FIFA.
The TTFA lawyers are hoping for a response to their request for mediation by 2 pm, on Friday.