Fifa has given the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) a new ‘final deadline’ of 23 September to ensure the withdrawal of its High Court case against the governing body.
The latest threat was issued by Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura to Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad this morning and then relayed via a press release.
TTFA president William Wallace, who says he has support of roughly half of the local body’s delegates, has refused to back down and is supported by vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip, as well as ‘United TTFA’ colleagues Anthony Harford and Keith Look Loy—who helped get him elected.
On 26 August, Samoura ‘firmly requested’ that the ‘TTFA former leadership’ withdraw its claim from the local High Court ‘by 16 September 2020 at the latest’. She said then that ‘failure to comply with this directive would result in the commencement of suspension proceedings via the relevant Fifa bodies’.
Today, as Fifa’s 70th Congress passed without repercussions for the TTFA, Samoura offered a new deadline.
“We hereby follow up on our latest correspondence dated 26 August 2020 pertaining to the situation of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association,” stated Samoura, via email. “Given the seriousness of the matter addressed therein, 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 articles 57 et seqq—by 23 September at 15:00 AST (21:00 CET).
“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 asked Hadad to ‘communicate the above mentioned to all relevant persons and to keep Fifa closely informed on all further developments regarding the matter’.
Hadad relayed Fifa’s missive to the Trinidad and Tobago public, via a press release. By so doing, Hadad, the Co-CEO of HadCo Limited, might be considered to have flouted an injunction by High Court Judge Carol Gobin, which was passed on Monday 14 September.
Justice Gobin ordered Fifa from ‘instructing and/or directing any person or persons to seek to withdraw the instant claim and/or in any way, manner or fashion from interfering with or seeking to undermine, the instant proceedings—except by way of lawful representations made by [Fifa’s] duly appointed Attorneys-at-Law or other lawful intervention’.
Hadad, along with normalisation committee members Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano, was specifically named by Justice Gobin.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino, as predicted by Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) vice-president Osmond Downer last month, never intended to address the TTFA at today’s congress.
The TTFA imbroglio was not raised on the agenda of Fifa’s Congress or its Council meeting—the latter was held yesterday.
However, as Wired868 noted on 31 August, Infantino has the option of striking against the local administration via the seven-member Bureau of the Fifa Council, which is headed by Infantino.
It was the Bureau, which is Fifa’s version of an ‘emergency committee’, that ordered a normalisation committee for the twin island republic in the first place, on 13 March, rather than the 37-member Fifa Council or 211-member Fifa Congress.
Arguably, Fifa’s new deadline could be meant to justify a future declaration of the Trinidad and Tobago impasse as an emergency. If not, Infantino might feasibly have to explain why the TTFA’s failure to meet the initial cut-off point of 16 September was not considered urgent enough to raise before the Council’s meeting on 17 September or the Congress’ meeting on 18 September.
Infantino’s failure to act against the TTFA, thus far, might lend weight to those who suggested that Fifa was bluffing.
However, Samoura’s new five-day deadline is instructive.
If Fifa hoped that the TTFA’s football delegates would officially voice their opposition to its elected officers, the governing body would have given a deadline of at least 10 days—so as to be compatible with the TTFA Constitution.
If Fifa felt the delegates might suspend or expel Wallace, then the TTFA would have needed 30 days to do so, again in keeping with its constitution.
Five days is insufficient time for delegates concerned by the possible sanction to do anything more than pray. It is Infantino’s Bureau of the Fifa Council, not TTFA members, that will decide what happens now.
Hadad can be in the firing line, though. The local businessman could arguably be held in contempt of the High Court for interfering with an active case through his press release, issued by TTFA media manager Shaun Fuentes.
Wired868 contacted TTFA attorney Matthew Gayle for comment on Fifa’s latest threat, which was relayed to the local public by Hadad. However, he had not responded up to the time of publication.