THE NIGHT before today’s FIFA deadline, United TTFA leader and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace was finally due to have a meeting with his delegates.
Last night’s meeting may well determine whether or not United TTFA drops its case against FIFA which is due to begin on October 9 in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court. FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura gave United TTFA up to today to withdraw its action, barring which T&T would face suspension from international football. Wallace’s meeting came a day after the Trinidad Express confirmed that FIFA had withdrawn from a case brought against it by Wallace’s United TTFA faction, challenging FIFA’s dismissal last March 17 of his TTFA executive, which was replaced by a Normalisation Committee. FIFA insists the dispute must be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In a landmark decision, T&T High Court judge Carol Gobin gave Wallace and his vice-presidents Clynth Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip, leave to challenge their dismissal by the world governing body, which came when FIFA imposed its own Normalisation Committee to run the TTFA, which is said to be debt-burdened to the tune of $100 million.
Wallace yesterday offered an emphatic “no comment” and would not be drawn into discussions about the implications of FIFA’s withdrawal from the High Court case.
Last night’s long-awaited TTFA gathering had all the facets of an emergency meeting, except Wallace said his first meeting with delegates since being elected on November 24, 2019, was informal. The meeting was due to take place from 7 p.m. yesterday via an online Zoom call. The listed agenda was ‘TTFA v FIFA case’.
“Delegates, over the last few months, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and football here and worldwide has been challenged, first with the unexpected pandemic Covid-19, and here in Trinidad and Tobago, the imposition of the Normalisation Committee on the TTFA by FIFA. We would like you to join us for a meeting,” Wallace said via letter. It was stated that the meeting would be hosted by the president (Wallace) and would involve elected officers of the TTFA. It was further stipulated that the online link would be supplied approximately one hour before the start of the meeting and that participants were required to have their video and volume on.
“Only members on the list of delegates would be allowed into the meeting and we ask all to be respectful to the chair and the meeting, as we discuss the business of the association,” Wallace’s letter further stated. “It is an informal meeting,” Wallace told the Express. “We did not call the meeting based on any constitutional arrangement. We are trying to meet with the delegates.” However, yesterday, there were still TTFA delegates claiming to know nothing of the meeting. “We have not gotten an invitation. They have not sent it to any one of my members in the Pro League. East Zone has not gotten it. Eastern Counties hasn’t gotten it,” stated acting Pro League chairman Brent Sancho, who heard by word of mouth.
“The letter is not signed. There is no email, official thread, nothing. And then to have it at
seven o’clock tonight...when you had six months in which you could have had this meeting. There are a lot of people (who) have not gotten any correspondence. They have not even seen.” However, in a Whastapp post, United TTFA activist Keith Look Loy insisted that many had been invited.
“The complete list of names is with Clynt Taylor. What I can say is that I know for a fact that these TTFA members have been invited because I invited them myself, particularly if there was a problem,” Look Loy stated.
He listed the invitees as Eastern Counties, Tobago, all Trinidad and Tobago Super League members, but just three T&T Pro League members, although the Pro League has 10 delegates. Look Loy also listed TTAYSO, Futsal, TT Referees, Women’s football, Secondary Schools Football League and Northern and Central FAs among invitees. No mention was made of the Veterans football body.
“The invitation would have gone out,” Wallace concurred. “The named delegates were those that were there before, and if there are changes in terms of delegates, I suppose they will send who they have to send. At this point it’s not very relevant because it’s an informal meeting,” Wallace insisted.