ATTORNEYS representing the reinstated TT Football Association (TTFA) executive have now shifted focus to Monday’s hearing at the Court of Appeal.
Since FIFA’s removal of the William Wallace-led administration, in March, and installation of a normalisation committee to run TT’s daily football affairs, the ousted executive opted to legally challenge this decision.
Wallace and his vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Joseph Sam Phillip and Susan Joseph-Warrick (now resigned) made an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, saying the decision was a breach of the TTFA’s constitution.
The team later indicated it did not believe CAS would give a “fair hearing” as they encountered runarounds during the process. Instead, on May 18, they appealed to have the matter heard at the local High Court.
In June, FIFA filed an injunction in the TT High Court to stop it from hearing any matter relating the ongoing dispute. It insisted that CAS was the only acceptable forum.
On August 13, Justice Gobin denied FIFA’s request to have the dispute remitted back to the CAS and ruled that the local officials were not bound by an arbitration clause with the CAS and could take the world governing body to court in TT.
One week later, FIFA appealed Justice Gobin’s decision to have the matter dealt with locally.
Monday’s hearing at the Court of Appeal, however, ironically comes after Tuesday’s ruling by Justice Gobin who declared FIFA’s removal of TTFA’s duly-elected executive and its installation of a normalisation committee “null and void”.
Declaring Tuesday’s decision a win for the Wallace administration, TTFA’s legal team of Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul have now shifted focus to Monday’s hearing.
“The Court of Appeal is on Monday and from a legal perspective that’s where our eyes are set. That Court of Appeal decision is to really challenge whether Justice Gobin or the TT High Court has the jurisdiction in the way to even make a decision that was delivered on Tuesday.
“This is regarding FIFA’s appeal to overrule the hearing of the case in TT. We’re mainly focused on that going ahead,” said Jones on Wednesday.
Additionally, after previously questioning the impartiality of the CAS, the TTFA has returned to the Swiss court to fight FIFA’s August 24 decision to indefinitely suspend TT.
According to Jones, their written submissions on this matter are also due on Monday.
“The whole question of us being suspended and the decision to suspend TT is not concluded. We have some submissions due on Monday also to submit to CAS. That’s not a hearing, it’s more of making written submissions and then FIFA will have to make theirs. That is also in the pipeline and we have a deadline in terms of the documentation or the written advocacy at CAS. We have the oral advocacy at the Court of Appeal and the written advocacy for CAS,” he added.
Jones adjudged TTFA’s victory in the local court, on Tuesday, as “resembling a David and Goliath battle” and Justice Gobin’s decision as a “well-considered judgment”.
He particularly drew reference to paragraph 56 of Justice Gobin’s ruling which stated, “In the circumstances, the TTFA’s actions of seeking redress before the Court was perhaps the only appropriate response which avoided capitulating to the demands of FIFA and thereby elevating the status of FIFA statutes above the laws passed by our Parliament.”
“When you look at judgement in various parts, you see the evidence in terms of credibility. It’s really the form and fashion of FIFA’s appointment of the normalization committee was really at the centre of the judgment. What was even more fundamental was that paragraph 56.
“It really takes the whole thing home and I think that particular paragraph speaks to the legal, moral and ethical paradigm of the entire dispute between the parties. This culminates the case because it vindicates the duly-appointed executives, their legitimacy and their cry for recognition of that legitimacy, not just in law, but in terms of the governance of the TTFA,” stated Jones. Newsday also reached out to FIFA lawyer Christopher Hamel-Smith for a comment on Justice Gobin’s ruling. He, however, indicated that, “I don’t really talk to the media about court cases. You’d have to get in touch with FIFA’s media department. I cannot comment on that.”