“I have never seen such ego take over a situation and even at the expense of the future development of football. We have hundreds of young men and women. They are losing the opportunities for contract, for scouts, for scholarships.”
Police Commissioner and former hockey player Gary Griffith thinks that with his point now made, it’s time for battle-weary Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace to lay down his weapon — that is, pursuing court action against FIFA, international football’s governing body.
Griffith’s comments came in reaction to FIFA suspending Trinidad and Tobago from international football as a consequence of Wallace’s sidelined TTFA executive challenging their removal from office. FIFA statutes name the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as the forum for such disputes.
With Wallace’s United TTFA group having gone to the local High Court, in contravention of FIFA’s laws, FIFA followed up by suspending T&T, giving the Association two conditions to have the ban lifted. Bowing to pressure, Wallace’s United TTFA sought to remove the matter from court in line with the FIFA ultimatum, but did not do so by the 3 p.m. deadline on September 23. Since then, United TTFA has returned to court.
However, speaking with regional broadcaster SportsMax, Griffith viewed Wallace’s action as holding the football community to ransom. Griffith thought there was no end game or win-win situation for Wallace, even if United TTFA won in the High Court. FIFA does not recognise the jurisdiction of local courts and will not make a defence when the matter comes up on October 9.
“I am always ready for battle. But there is one thing you must know: you cannot go ahead to do everything to win a battle and then lose a war,” Griffith declared.
Griffith himself is no stranger to ego accusations. However, the fiery commissioner feels that Wallace has to work for the greater good of all and not just the few members of his group.
Likewise, there are others, including T&T men’s coach Terry Fenwick, who believe that Wallace’s faction does not have the resources to run football without FIFA funding. The TTFA is approximately $100 million in debt. And in its seven-month battle with FIFA, United TTFA have been only able to raise USD 4,250 in funds, and none in four months. It has led to United TTFA abandoning its case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, once FIFA opted not to pay its half of advance costs.
Until court proceedings are finished and the ban lifted, Fenwick’s national team, starved of FIFA funding, will not be allowed to participate in the 2021 edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup - the region’s top competition for national football teams- unless the ban is lifted by December 18.
“This is about egos. It is amazing what we are seeing here,” Griffith declared.