William Wallace

 William Wallace

OUSTED Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace yesterday instructed his attorneys to withdraw an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Instead, the TTFA has now registered a complaint against the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) with the Trinidad and Tobago High Court.

The TTFA had been protesting FIFA’s setting up of a normalisation committee headed by local businessman Robert Hadad to replace Wallace and his executive in March.

However, since filing an appeal with CAS, Wallace and his lawyers have claimed unfair treatment in the way the international body has been handling their matter.

Yesterday, the legal team of Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle wrote Antonio De Quesada, CAS’ Head of Arbitration, indicating the TTFA’s latest position.

“Our clients have therefore instructed us to withdraw the appeal with immediate effect,” stated the communication from Crowne and Gayle.

Further, the barristers have shifted focus to the local High Court, where in a 10-page Statement of Case, its argument is built around two points.

1. The Claimant (TTFA) is and was at all material times a body corporate incorporated in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago by The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (Incorporation) Act, 1982.

2. Pursuant to section 4 of The Act, the Claimant is governed according to its Constitution.

Hours before Wallace’s action, CAS’ communications officer Katy Hogg had replied to Trinidad Express inquiries on the state of the case by stating ‘as per our message to you of 28 April, 2020, the arbitration procedure is progressing. No further information is available at this time.”

However, Wallace’s action yesterday was consistent with the concerns he had raised when CAS had instructed his group to pay all of the 40,000 Swiss francs (TT$275,000), as advanced costs for the matter to proceed. Once FIFA held its advantage of not paying half of the costs, Wallace’s team had two choices—come up with all the money or withdraw.

CAS confirmed this position in correspondence on May 8, referring to article R64.2 of the code, an excerpt of which states: “In case of non-payment of the entire advance of costs within the time limit fixed by the CAS, the request/appeal shall be deemed withdrawn and the CAS shall terminate the arbitration.”

Informed sources noted that the TTFA’s fate depended totally on FIFA being generous and obliging to pay half of the advanced costs.

This was further confirmed by a letter from Dr Crowne.

“The respondent (FIFA) itself could have remedied any alleged institutional bias or procedural irregularities by agreeing to advance its share of the costs. However, it declined to do so; thereby maintaining the arbitral status quo it enjoys with the CAS,” Crowne stated.

Wallace’s team had previously written to CAS complaining of institutional bias when responding to De Quesada in an April 30 correspondence which stated: “As a general rule, FIFA does not pay any arbitration costs pursuant to Article R64.2 of the Code. This means that, according to the same provision of the Code, the appellant (TTFA) has to pay the entirety of the advance of costs.”

The lawyers also complained of having “very grave concerns over a number of irregularities which have arisen in these procedures.”

“To be clear, even if our clients applied to the CAS for legal aid, it would still not remedy the apparent institutional bias that has arisen. As it stands, there are very real doubts that the CAS remains an appropriate and fair forum for the resolution of this dispute,” the TTFA barristers stated.

They also said: “To sum up, the respondent (FIFA) and the CAS caused the arbitration fees to triple. The arbitration fees themselves are excessive per se.”

“On its face, therefore, the CAS appears to be a willing participant in the Respondent’s gamesmanship,especially if the CAS had institutional knowledge that the Respondent—an entity with immeasurable financial resources—would not be advancing their share of the arbitration costs, and especially since it was the Respondent themselves who asked that the matter be heard before a three person panel thereby tripling the cost of the proceedings.”

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THERE will be no compromise between William Wallace and his sidelined executives of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and the FIFA-imposed normalisation committee.