Trinidad and Tobago’s crisis-hit football was thrown into further chaos yesterday when financial administrator Tyril Patrick quit his FIFA-designated position as interim manager of the Football Association (TTFA) even before the full normalisation committee could be appointed by the governing body for world football.
With recently-elected TTFA president William Wallace ostracised by FIFA and Patrick now backing out of his Zurich HQ-designated role, the debt-riddled local governing body for the sport will almost certainly be unable to make any decisions regarding national teams, club football, sponsorship and debt-financing, among other critical issues.
Following criticism from several quarters since FIFA’S announcement on Tuesday appointing him, Patrick contacted TTFA attorneys Matthew GW Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne by email yesterday, informing them that he was relinquishing the position.
“Dear Mr Matthew GW Gayle, I would like to confirm via this email that I am no longer the interim manager at TTFA,” Patrick wrote. “I am no longer accepting the appointment and I have informed FIFA of my decision.”
FIFA effectively stripped the four-month-old, William Wallace-led TTFA of its power Tuesday and annouced its (FIFA’s) intention to appoint a normalisation committee to take over the Association’s affairs for the next two years, citing the TTFA’s bulging $50 million debt as reason for intervention.
Patrick was named caretaker TTFA administrator by FIFA’s general secretary, Fatma Samoura.
However, his appointment sparked questions due to his links to the recently-ousted David John-Williams-led administration. Patrick was said to be accountant to John-Williams’ regime, under which the TTFA’s already significant debt allegedly ballooned before landing in Wallace’s lap when he unseated John-Williams in the November 24, 2019 election.
Wallace had given his attorneys the go-ahead to petition the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to appeal FIFA’S intervention and, as a first step, attorneys Gayle and Crowne had contacted Patrick, indicating an intent to also begin legal proceedings against him. In a letter sent Friday, they issued Patrick a pre-action protocol warning against taking any steps to interfere with the Association’s day to day operations.
The attorneys wrote: “In default of you indicating you intend to ignore and/or not comply with the FIFA Letter and confirming your recognition of the duly elected executive as the operative executive of the TTFA, to which you report, then without further notice our firm instructions are to initiate urgent formal proceedings against you, asking the High Court.”
The attorneys argued that the legitimate TTFA executives were William Wallace; Clynt Taylor; Susan Joseph-Warrick; Joseph “Sam” Phillip; Kieron Edwards; Richard Quan Chan; Rayshawn Mars; Desmond Alfred; Dwayne Thomas; Brent Sancho; Jamyila Muhammad; Phillip Fraser; Joseph Taylor; and Keith Look Loy.
They further argued that the duly elected executive might only demit office by operation of the constitution of the TTFA, which makes no allowance for the appointment of Patrick or any other person to “oversee” the day to day affairs of the TTFA, as the FIFA letter purported to do.
“It is therefore our client’s respectful view that the FIFA letter is null, void and of no legal effect. It is not in any way binding on them.”
The odds appear stacked against Wallace and his executive, however. Associations of “smaller” countries, none more so than in the Caribbean, are heavily dependent on FIFA funding to run development programmes and even the country’s top-tier TT Pro League seems on the side of the world body.
On Wednesday Brent Sancho, the TT Pro League’s member on the TTFA Board, expressed the view that FIFA’s intervention “was always coming”. Sancho is also owner of Pro League club, Central FC. And AC Port of Spain’s Michael Awai: “This might be a chance to put our house in order. It might be a bad thing for him (Wallace), but I think it a good thing for T&T football.”
Neither was there any encouragement from the Caribbean Football Union whose president Randy Harris said that while FIFA’s move was “unfortunate”, an appeal against it was likely to be unsuccessful. For the moment, FIFA will have to find a new appointee to supplant Wallace. Meanwhile, the TTFA solicitors described FIFA’S actions as attempted unlawful interference in the operations of a sovereign body.
“We have been retained to defend the interests of Trinidad and Tobago football against such rank corrupt, unjust, bullyboy tactics which FIFA now clearly seeks to engage,” they wrote. “Any attempts to hold football in Trinidad to ransom with threats of further and/or more punitive steps will also be met with forceful resistance by those who have retained us.”