Fifa was unfair to Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip—but we fraid to get ban. This, according to a few observers, was the prevailing mood at last night’s informal general meeting called by Wallace.
The meeting, which was held online, offered TTFA’s 47 member delegates the opportunity to share their views on the elected members’ legal defiance of Fifa and its appointed normalisation committee. And, of course, there was also a vote meant to quantify the support or disapproval.
In the informal setting, four persons contacted by Wired868 gave three different figures. But in each scenario the majority of delegates voted to withdraw the case with the difference being somewhere between 65 and 72 percent.
(Remarkably, with the immediate future of the TTFA at stake, there was not a full turn-out—with as many as 11 members missing.)
Three persons abstained from choosing a side at all while either seven or eight members voted to continue fighting in the High Court. However, between 21 and 26 members want the elected officials to submit to Fifa.
Wallace promised to consider the views of the members and give a decision this morning, after consulting with his United TTFA slate.
Since it was not a properly constituted extraordinary general meeting, Wallace and his vice-presidents are not obliged to follow last night’s vote. And, to further complicate things, the meeting was not restricted to the official delegates for the various members either.
Votes apart, Wallace also stressed that the meeting was interested in the ideas of members. And Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) vice-president Osmond Downer, as always, had an interesting view to share.
Fifa is now on its second deadline to the TTFA, after secretary general Fatma Samoura extended the time for a withdrawal from 15 September to 23 September. Downer suggested that Fifa president Gianni Infantino was as worried about the TTFA’s court case as local officials are scared of the Bureau of the Fifa Council’s ‘big stick’.
“If I was sure they would ban us, I would say withdraw the case—but I am not so sure,” Downer told the meeting. “Who are they going to suspend? Are they going to suspend the TTFA when the TTFA as a body has not taken Fifa to court?
“They themselves say they don’t recognise the elected officials and that the normalisation committee that they appointed is in charge. So is Fifa going to suspend itself?”
The response to Downer’s point from his fellow members? Well, why take the chance Fifa might do just that anyway.
“People are mortally afraid of a Fifa ban,” said one member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Most people say Fifa didn’t move right,” said another, “but they still said Wallace should withdraw the case—because they don’t want to risk a ban.”
Interim Pro League chairman Brent Sancho and Morvant Caledonia United technical director Jamaal Shabazz criticised Wallace for waiting this long before speaking to his fellow board members.
Downer, again, offered a counter.
“Fifa replaced the [TTFA] Board with the normalisation committee so there was no board to go to, to start with,” Downer retorted. “That is why they went to the court—so they can be recognised as the bonafide TTFA officers. How can the officers who were removed, go to the normalisation committee and ask them to hold a meeting to [potentially] remove the normalisation committee? That is incongruous.
“They couldn’t call a general meeting because who calls the general meeting? The board. And Fifa removed the board.”
Downer’s explanation, after three or four attempts, apparently would not sink in for Sancho. But it might be a moot point anyway.
Earlier yesterday, United TTFA member and Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president Keith Look Loy said last night’s meeting would allow for feedback from members and the chance to quantify the support for their stance.
There remains a principled reason to support the TTFA’s resistance of Fifa. But most members would rather remain within the fold of the Infantino-led global body, even at the possible cost of their constitutional rights.
On 24 November 2019, Wallace was elected president by a vote of 26-20. Ten months later, only eight members think he should continue.
Wallace has a few hours left to decide whether he should bow to the will of the majority.