JOEL BAILEY and JELANI BECKLES
FIFA, the world’s governing body for football, has lifted its suspension of the TTFA (TT Football Association), with immediate effect.
FIFA, in a media release on Thursday, said, “after taking note of the (October 23) decision of the TT Court of Appeal and the express wish of the members of the TTFA for all associated legal claims brought by parties purporting to act in the name of the organisation to be terminated, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided to lift the suspension of the TTFA with immediate effect.
“This means that all of the TTFA membership rights have been reinstated and TTFA representative and club teams are again entitled to take part in international competitions. The TTFA may also benefit from development programmes, courses and training provided by FIFA and/or Concacaf. Moreover, FIFA member associations may again enter into sporting contact with the TTFA and/or its teams.”
The Bureau of the FIFA Council, led by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, issued a suspension on the TTFA on September 24 “due to grave violations of the FIFA Statutes”.
According to FIFA, “the suspension was prompted by the former leadership of the TTFA (led by William Wallace) lodging a claim before (the TT High Court) in order to contest the decision of the FIFA Council to appoint a normalisation committee for the TTFA (which) was in direct breach of article 59 of the Statutes, which expressly prohibits recourse to ordinary courts unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.”
Wallace and his TTFA executive were removed by FIFA and replaced by the normalisation committee, headed by Robert Hadad, on March 17 for mounting debts, estimated at $50 million.
Wallace challenged FIFA’s decision at the local court, instead of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
FIFA’s media release said, “The members of the TTFA normalisation committee (Hadad, Nigel Romano and Judy Daniel), which was installed by decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council on 17 March 2020, will proceed with their duties.
“FIFA regrets the stances and actions taken by the members of the removed executive committee (Wallace and his deputies Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Joseph Sam Phillip), which negatively impacted all aspects of TT football.
“Such actions greatly misdirected the attention of the normalisation committee and hindered its work and execution of its mandate. FIFA is, however, confident that the normalisation committee will now be able to focus on the execution of its assigned tasks.”
The normalisation committee issued a media release, stressing, “We have a long way to go and there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that this return to competitive action, in all age categories, is sustainable.”
The Hadad-led group commended “the decisive contributions by numerous TT stakeholders in signalling their desire for a new chapter for football in our country.”
The normalisation committee pointed out, “The financial and governance issues of the TTFA are looming large, but we believe that together, we can put TT football where it needs to be, on and off the field. We look forward to meeting with the various constituencies to work towards a structure that ensures that we begin winning again.”
One of the key stakeholders, Pro League’s chairman Brent Sancho, said, “It’s good now that the suspension is lifted. It doesn’t mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that the work that needs to be done, has to be left alone. I believe for TT football to go forward, it would need all the stakeholders to put country first and have a national approach.
“I think now, for us, the stakeholders, to work hand-in-hand with them and seek to alleviate the problems that plague the sport (locally).”
According to Sancho, “As to what the next steps are, it’s really down to themselves, FIFA, Concacaf and the powers-that-be. We all have to be singing from the same hymn sheet if we are to get past these hurdles. Football is in a big hole and the only way to get out is if we could (work) collectively.”
National men’s team coach Terry Fenwick was relieved the matter was over, and the spotlight will now turn towards the national teams and, by extension, the players.
“It’s great news for football in TT,” he said. “We want to get on with the game, we want to be competing in tournaments and (the lifting of the suspension) was the only way forward. I’m looking forward to meeting the normalisation committee and talking about positive things rather than the negatives.”
Fenwick, who was appointed as men’s coach in January, is yet to have a competitive game with the squad due to the TTFA-FIFA wrangle and the covid19 pandemic.
The ex-England defender said, “I know all the different factions. I’ll be here 21 years in January so I’m experienced at (TT) football.
“People out there still want to fight you down. We’ve got to put (those) things to one side and think about the kids that are playing football. I’m hoping this experience in 2020 will give us a big shake-up and we come out of it positively.”
Football enthusiast and contributor Earl “Mango” Pierre, who called on the United TTFA (Wallace’s successful team at the November 24, 2019 TTFA elections) to stop their fight against FIFA, was elated to here that the ban was lifted.
“Well done my FIFA and hoping that Mr Hadad and his normalisation committee will remain for a long time even after their two years have ended…I am very happy that it is over and now we could just move forward and really get our act together.”
Pierre helped form the TT Players Association in Brooklyn, New York in 1992 to honour players, coaches and managers.
Pierre said previously that local football would have suffered if United TTFA continued to battle FIFA.
This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
TT footballers can now dust the cobweb off their boots as FIFA has lifted the suspension of the TT Football Association (TTFA).
A media release from the normalisation committee, who FIFA appointed to run local football, said, “The normalisation committee recently held fruitful discussions with FIFA and we are pleased to deliver the good news that the TT Football Association's suspension will be lifted and its membership rights in FIFA will be reinstated in time for TT to compete in the 2021 Gold Cup and the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. This could not happen without the decisive contributions by numerous TT stakeholders in signalling their desire for a new chapter for football in our country.”
TTFA’s ban needed to be lifted by December 18 for TT to compete in the 2021 Gold Cup tournament in July/August and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting in March.
FIFA and the former executive of the United TTFA, led by former president William Wallace, were in a battle since March as the United TTFA fought the world football body’s decision to appoint the normalisation committee.
The United TTFA recently decided to drop all court matters against FIFA.
The release by the normalisation committee said the journey has just begun.
“However we have a long way to go and there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that this return to competitive action, in all age categories, is sustainable.”