Fifa president Gianni Infantino demanded that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) ensure the withdrawal of all legal cases against the governing body by 23 September 2020.
Infantino will have to wait at least a day to discover if he got his wish, though. Fifa attorneys told Wired868 that, up to 3pm (TT time), they had not been served with any notice of discontinuance, withdrawing the proceedings.
Calls to the High Court Civil Registry at 3:05pm confirmed that no documents had been filed yet in the proceedings, nor was there anything in the court’s portal or pending documents for processing.
However, former TTFA president William Wallace and fellow United TTFA member Keith Look Loy confirmed that their attorneys have withdrawn the case. However, they filed at 3:02pm—two minutes after the court was closed for the day. And, apparently, they did not bother to inform Fifa.
The TTFA is represented legally by Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Jason Jones and Crystal Paul while Fifa is represented in this action by local attorneys: Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie.
It was, arguably, a parting gesture between the two parties, which have traded blows ever since the Bureau of the Fifa Council—which is headed by Infantino—declared that Wallace had been removed on 17 March.
Wallace and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip responded by inviting Infantino to step inside a courtroom; and, notably, the local administrators won every round there, with the Swiss-based global body still due to cough up ordered legal costs.
This morning, though, the former Carapichaima East Secondary vice-principal and his colleagues finally relented, in the face of threatened sanctions against local football, and with close to 70 per cent of the membership showing no appetite for the scrap.
The United TTFA issued a typically bullish sign-off, which suggested that the TTFA had been re-colonised by Fifa. The statement was signed by Northern FA president Anthony Harford along with Joseph-Warrick, Phillip and Look Loy—but not by Wallace or Taylor.
“I had no issue with the content in the statement,” Wallace told Wired868, “but I was not yet mentally ready to sign.”
Even as the United TTFA sacrificed principle for the sake of their members, interim Pro League chairman Brent Sancho—the first vocal supporter of the Fifa-appointed normalisation committee—appeared to be urging the governing body to further discipline his countrymen for their inconvenience with individual bans.
Sancho, whose Central FC Pro League club still owes scores of footballers and associated small business owners tens of thousands of dollars or more, believes he is on moral high ground because he hitched himself to the normalisation bandwagon straight out of the gate.
Arguably, it says a lot about the final result when Sancho—a man once rebuffed by former Soca Warriors teammate Shaka Hislop for an ‘unwarranted and desperately untrue’ personal attack on his own club captain, Marvin Oliver after unfairly sacking him—is the figure who is celebrating the loudest.
In the end, Wallace did not leave his role as TTFA president how and when he would have liked. But he did not leave how and when Infantino would have liked either. It is small consolation.
Normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad looks to be in charge now and can expect to finally take control of the local body’s bank accounts and letterhead.
Coined ‘The Ice Cream Man’, Hadad has so far attempted to run local football from his HadCo office in Barataria, via Whats App messages to his ‘assistant’ Amiel Mohammed.
Judging from their inability so far to satisfy coaches, organise office staff and interact with football stakeholders, the normalisation committee trio of Hadad, Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano could not be relied on to roll a barrel downhill—much less to steady the ship that is the local game. But they have time and space now to prove doubters wrong.
The TTFA is theirs to run for the foreseeable future, after the elected officers bowed to the wishes of their members.
Once, of course, confirmation of the TTFA’s withdrawal is confirmed. Neither Wallace nor his legal team were inclined to do Fifa any favours on that score.