THE SUSPENSION of this country from international football activity represents the lowest point for a nation that once made history by becoming the smallest ever to qualify for the World Cup.
Our talented players who may have hoped for a chance to be a part of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers starting in March now have to contend with the prospect of being blocked from scoring indefinitely.
The circumstances of the suspension suggest an own goal on the part of the group known as United TTFA.
The group, which comprises ousted TTFA officials, had been given two separate deadlines by FIFA to withdraw its court case challenging the appointment by FIFA of a “normalisation committee.”
According to reports, both deadlines – September 16 and September 23 – were not met.
A media release was sent by the United TTFA at 1 pm on Wednesday stating it had come to a decision to withdraw the matter.
The group had until 3 pm on Wednesday to withdraw. However, the affidavit of William Wallace in support of the application for permission to withdraw was reportedly sent at 3.02 pm.
The hair’s breadth of this contrasts sharply with the massive ramifications.
Starting immediately, neither the TTFA’s national teams nor its clubs will be allowed to participate in any international competition.
The TTFA and its members will also not benefit from the FIFA or Concacaf financial development programmes.
The nuances of the court action aside, this country’s reputation has also been affected.
We now join a list of football’s “bad boys” – including Azerbaijan, Iran, Guatemala, Greece – who have histories of suspension.
There will also be many who will question whether United TTFA made an enormous error or whether it had, in fact, through deliberate deferral of its decision, sought to have things both ways.
Either way, it does not look good.
Had the group not signalled its intention to drop the case, the prospect of the High Court examining the important issues of law raised in the case would have at least added some points to the league table.
The case had raised questions of law that have implications for the effectiveness of contract terms as well as the culture of arbitration that often clothes our public affairs with secrecy.
It is indeed a sad day for football, but it is also an even sadder day for the country when we are deprived of participation in international football with little to show for it.
To change things, the parties involved will have to come together. The current situation shows TT cannot move forward unless everybody is on the same team.
Can there be a late goal?