Sport-Filler

FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura spoke directly of suspension of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for the first time yesterday when giving this country’s FA a September 23 (next Wednesday) extension for its former executives to withdraw its High Court action against world football’s governing body.

Yesterday’s 70th FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Associations) Congress passed without Trinidad and Tobago being suspended from international football as was widely anticipated. But that does not mean one isn’t coming.

“We can go to agenda item number four, suspension or expulsion of a member, and there is nothing that falls into this agenda item, which is obviously good news,” FIFA president Gianni Infantinto stated at yesterday’s virtual FIFA Congress, broadcast live.

However, Keith Look Loy, one of the protagonists behind United TTFA’s court action against FIFA, does not believe that the matter has ended. Instead, the outspoken TTFA technical committee chairman anticipates that the world body is more likely to act against T&T at the next meeting of the Bureau of the FIFA Council, comprising president Infantino and the heads of each of the six FIFA confederations.

“They will wait until their bureau of seven meets, as I said on TV6 yesterday. Easier to pass a suspension there, than to justify it to 211 countries, all of which have received a copy of Mark Bassant’s documentary. It’s chess. It ain’t checkers,” Look Loy commented via Whatapp following yesterday’s Congress. Subsequently, United TTFA released a statement stating as such.

“United TTFA is fully convinced that the FIFA leadership has decided to use the Bureau of the Council, which comprises seven persons,

including FIFA president Infantino, to suspend (the) TTFA. The Bureau is the same FIFA body that imposed the so-called Normalisation

Committee,” United TTFA stated in a media release yesterday.

“FIFA’s leadership has chosen this shady route to suspension, rather than submit a suspension recommendation to hundreds of

Congress delegates, to each of whom United TTFA recently sent Mark Bassant’s documentary film, along with all other relevant information pertaining to this issue.”

The only action taken yesterday was Samoura’s letter to Robert Haddad, chairman of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee, to convey to ousted TTFA president William Wallace and his three vice-presidents, that the deadline has been extended by a week for them to cease court action against FIFA.

The ousted (United) TTFA faction, led by Wallace, are challenging FIFA’s decision to remove them and install its own Normalisation Committee to run football in the twin island Republic. FIFA statutes state such matters or disputes should be decided by the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and forbids its members associations from taking action in other courts.

FIFA sanctions stipulate a suspension or expulsion for member associations taking such action. Samoura indicated that FIFA has extended the original September 16 deadline, by a week, for the former TTFA officials to comply.

“The FIFA Council has decided to give a final deadline to the relevant parties to withdraw all types of claims against FIFA before the Trinidad and Tobago courts and comply with all their obligations under the FIFA Statutes, in particular arts 57 et seqq. of the FIFA Statutes, by 23 September,” Samoura wrote.

“Failure to comply with this directive within this revised deadline will result in the matter being brought to the attention of the

relevant FIFA bodies to decide on the suspension of the TTFA.”

Meanwhile, it is uncertain whether FIFA had filed a Trinidad and Tobago High Court defence of a claim brought against it by ousted TTFA president William Wallace and his three vice-presidents, who are challenging FIFA’s decision to remove them from office last March 17.

FIFA has repeatedly stated it will not respect the judgments of the local courts. Justice Carol Gobin had given FIFA’s local legal representatives M. Hamel Smith @ Company, until 4 p.m. yesterday to file a defence, or else the case will proceed on October 9.

“They are not aware that a defence has been filed,” TTFA attorney Matthew Gayle revealed after a call to the High Court registry. But, he cautioned that under a new system, a defence could have been filed by the deadline and had not yet been processed.

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