ONLY EIGHT members, among them his closest allies, believed that ousted Trinidad and Tobago Football Association president William Wallace should continue the Trinidad and Tobago High Court battle against the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), governing body for world football.
Contrary to FIFA rules, Wallace and vice-president Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick, and Sam Phillip had taken legal action against FIFA, challenging their removal in March. FIFA had threatened to suspend the TTFA from international football, stating that the Court of Arbitration for Sport was the only venue to vent the dispute.
The T&T High Court case was due to begin on October 9 but, following Tuesday night’s meeting, United TTFA responded with a press release stating it would abide by the wishes of the members.
“The signatories to this statement have decided to follow the clear wish of the membership,” United TTFA’s statement read. “President William Wallace and 1st Vice President Clynt Taylor have advised us that they have instructed our legal representatives to withdraw the High Court claim against FIFA.”
Yesterday, the TTFA’s attorneys said an application will now have to be sent and permission given from the High Court to have the matter withdrawn.
TT Pro League acting chairman Brent Sancho had been an open opponent of United TTFA’s action. He felt that the meeting would have been an eye opener for the TTFA executives since it showed them how little support their court case had.
“A large number of Super League clubs were in favour of taking it out of court. Prisons were one. UTT, RSSR, Queen’s Park. It was surprising because Super League clubs vote as a block. Women football were against the court case and with Warrick being the (WOLF) president, that was a surprise,”, said Sancho, who added that the majority of Pro League football clubs and beach soccer wanted the court case ended.
It being an informal meeting, Wallace was under no constitutional obligation to comply. But with a mere 25 percent support for his action, the TTFA president certainly had a moral obligation to comply with the wishes of the majority.
On Tuesday, United TTFA met members to discuss FIFA’s second deadline for ending the challenge to its normalisation committee. Of the participating member representatives, 21 called on United TTFA to end its legal challenge while eight were in favour of it being continued and three abstained.
“We, the signatories, accept this call,” United TTFA stated.
The meeting began with initial wrangling and some voting delegates complaining of not being invited. They also argued that United TTFA had invited mainly its supporters, some with no voting rights. Eventually, a vote was taken.
While many believed that Wallace had made a principled stand and that FIFA was unfair in its unilateral dismissal of his four-month-old regime, most were concerned about the implication of an international ban on Trinidad and Tobago. FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura had given T&T a September 23 deadline to withdraw the court action or face international suspension.
“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,” Samoura wrote.
United TTFA felt that the effect of Samoura’s ultimatum might well have been felt as early as next week when Concacaf holds the draw for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
“It is fair to say that the overwhelming majority of representatives were motivated by fear of FIFA’s threat to suspend TTFA. Indeed, several who voted to have the legal case withdrawn did so while openly stating their support for the principles on which United TTFA stood against FIFA. This fear was exacerbated by the imminent draw for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, to be held on 28 September, from which Trinidad and Tobago would be excluded if we were to be suspended by FIFA. A ‘convenient’ development for FIFA.”