UNITED TTFA, after previously questioning the impartiality of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, has returned to the Swiss court to fight FIFA.
The ousted TT Football Association (TTFA) executive on Friday sought to withdraw its withdrawal of a lawsuit against FIFA in the TT High Court. The case is set to be heard by Justice Carol Gobin on October 9.
Although the sport’s global governing body indefinitely suspended the local fraternity on Thursday, ousted TTFA president William Wallace and his regime still believe their removal and appointment of a normalisation committee, by FIFA,was “illegal”.
Wallace’s team complied with FIFA’s request and withdrew their legal fight at 3:02pm on Wednesday – two minutes over the 3pm September 23 deadline set by the world body – to escape suspension proceedings. FIFA showed no leniency as United TTFA initially had until September 16 to withdraw but FIFA had given an extension.
United TTFA will now fight the FIFA suspension at CAS and, on Thursday night, “gave instructions to the TTFA attorneys to file an emergency appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), challenging the sole issue of suspension.”
This was revealed in a document issued by Wallace, accompanied by the TTFA letterhead, on Friday, which further stated, “The TTFA attorneys also filed the relevant documents to continue with the claim before the High Court of Justice (TT) since this is the only way that we can legitimise our application to CAS.”
Ironically, CAS was shunned upon by the removed administration during the early stages of this legal battle, as their attorneys Dr. Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle claimed that a “number of irregularities have arisen, irregularities that have caused their clients to believe their right to a fair hearing has been impinged.”
After the appointment of the normalisation committee in March, Wallace’s team of Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick, and Joseph Sam Phillip, along with TT Super League president Keith Look Loy and Northern Football Association president Anthony Harford, took FIFA to CAS.
Twelve days later, the ejected administrators turned to the TT High Court in its fight, although, according to FIFA’s Statues, this matter was mandated to be heard at CAS.
United TTFA claimed CAS showed “bias” in favour of FIFA.
Look Loy said on Friday, “We filed an injunction at the CAS against the suspension. But to ensure we had legal standing to do so, we had to have a legal matter before the local courts. Had the case been withdrawn from the court, there would be no legal standing in the local high court.
“There would be no legal standing because they have no case before the court, which means they have accepted FIFA’s imposition of the normalisation committee. We do not accept this and thus had to withdraw the withdrawal application to file such an injunction against FIFA.”
Both Look Loy and Wallace claim the first application to withdraw was done after an informal meeting of TTFA’s membership voted, on Tuesday, to end the court action against FIFA. The count revealed 21 members for, eight against and three abstaining their vote.
“We put aside our political position and principles and abided by our member’s decision and submitted the said application to withdraw. By going ahead and banning TTFA, FIFA refused the wish of the TTFA membership. It was an absolutely harsh and nonsensical decision by FIFA because they got everything they asked for, whether two minutes late,” Look Loy added.
The FC Santa Rosa president believes, however, that FIFA “needed” to suspend the TTFA because of their action to challenge its global governance structure. According to him, if TTFA was not sanctioned or punished for challenging the sport’s governing body, other country associations would have also stood up against football’s bosses.
“Whether we submitted the application to withdraw or not, FIFA still wants to show us who the real boss is. Anywhere we go from here is as a result of FIFA’s refusal to accept our withdrawal,” he further stated.
Amidst the suspension and uncertainty of TT’s football future, normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad revealed, on Friday, that Concacaf held an “emergency meeting” hours prior stating that TT will be included in the 2021 Gold Cup draw which is set to take place on September 28.
The Concacaf media release read, “However, they (TT) will only participate in the competition if the suspension imposed on the TTFA is lifted by 5pm on December 18.”
If the ban is not lifted, TT will be replaced by Antigua and Barbuda.
Strangely enough, Look Loy sees this move by the regional body as a positive sign going forward and called on football enthusiasts to remain fearless.
“Everybody in TT could relax about the Gold Cup. Four hours after we lodged our case, Concacaf guaranteed we would be in Monday’s draw and would play in the tournament once the suspension is lifted before December 18.
“I assure you it will be lifted (suspension) because United TTFA, if we win, will call a meeting and let the membership decide if they want United TTFA or a normalisation committee. If they request the latter, we will invite FIFA to send one. They will have the authority to do that. But it will be all legal,” he noted.
In response to Joseph-Warrick’s surprising resignation as TT Women’s Football League (WoLF) president owing to FIFA’s decision to suspend TTFA, Look Loy holds no malice against his comrade.
Joseph-Warrick, in a letter disbursed on Friday morning, stated that, “it has become clear to me that we are also fighting against those that we represent: the associations, the clubs, the teams, supporters and sadly, the players.”
Look Loy said, “We love Susan and we would never hold her resignation against her. Every soldier knows how much and how long they could fight. We respect her decision and still embrace her. We have no problem with what she has done. There is no bacchanal in the United TTFA.”
From here, the ousted regime look forward to CAS’ response on their injunction and the October 9 TT High Court against FIFA.
“This could be over in two weeks,” Look Loy said.