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Dear editor: Pragmatism and self-respect don’t have to be mutually exclusive domains

“[…] I agree that in any fight one must be strategic in deciding where, when and how to fight. However, to accept perceived injustice without a whimper is tantamount  to being a willing or unwilling accomplice to an unjust enterprise.

“Understanding the power relationships and what you can and cannot do, should not mean that we must accept contemptuous treatment…”

In the following Letter to the Editor, former St Augustine Secondary principal Andre Moses comments on the Fifa-TTFA impasse:

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino (left) tries his hand at steelpan during the opening of the TTFA Home of Football in Couva on 18 November 2019.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

In the first instance, any challenge to Fifa comes with its attendant consequences. There may be benefit but there are also costs.

Judging from the polling of the views of stakeholders at the TTFA’s recent virtual meeting, and based on anecdotal evidence on online platforms, it is clear to me that a majority of football stakeholders view a Fifa ban as ‘a bridge too far’—because of its implications for professional livelihoods and also the legitimate aspirations and expectations of the clubs and players, who stand to be impacted most directly and severely by a ban.

Since I have no direct ‘skin in the game’, I will leave the issues of cost and benefit to football’s primary stakeholders.

Laws change over time to accommodate scenarios that were not envisaged or catered for when they were enacted, or because they are inherently unjust, or because they are unfairly applied. The mechanism to change law is two-fold: for legislators to make changes on the front end, or for litigants to use the courts to make their challenges.

Power relationships, in my opinion, should not be the determining factor in how justice is dispensed. Something is either just or unjust—not because of who has the power to do what, but because it is fair to both prince and pauper.

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino (right) and then TTFA president David John-Williams at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

I agree that in any fight one must be strategic in deciding where, when and how to fight. However, to accept perceived injustice without a whimper is tantamount  to being a willing or unwilling accomplice to an unjust enterprise.

Understanding the power relationships and what you can and cannot do, should not mean that we must accept contemptuous treatment. Those who today administer summary global football justice have a lot of ‘cocoa in the sun’.

The previous Fifa administration collapsed under the strain of their corrupt practices and even the current administration is sweating profusely under the gaze of global demands and advocacy for increased transparency and fairness.

To use an overused cliché: ‘We can chew gum and walk at the same time’. We can make ‘sensible’ and democratic decisions about our football and our footballers, while at the same time showing that we respect ourselves and will demand that others treat us with respect as well.

No one should meekly accept conviction without a crime, and it is in that context I used the analogy: ‘Shut up and dribble’.

Photo: TTFA president William Wallace.
(Courtesy TTFA Media/Allan V Crane)

I would love Trinidad and Tobago to be represented in the Concacaf Gold Cup and I would also love the world footballing community to respect Trinidad and Tobago as a proud, sovereign nation, which also happens to be one of Fifa’s 211 member associations. We would like nothing more or less, than to be treated with the same degree of equality and fairness.

How else will the footballing nations of Africa and the Caribbean realise their fair share in Fifa’s global enterprise?

Everything in life is not a zero-sum game. It is not always a case of either one or the other and camping out in opposing tents with our ‘hearing-aids’ disconnected.

At the end of the day, Fifa will do their thing; but Trinidad and Tobago football, its promise and  its future, will be our primary responsibility.

Let everyone do their bit to build that promise and that future, because the ‘arithmetic’ of development is about addition and multiplication—not division and subtraction.

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One comment

  1. I really do believe that we are distracted by the rhetoric and anti-FIFA semantic portrayed by individuals who seem to be otherwise logical in their thinking. The clause being used in the Statutes by most world governing bodies originated from CAS. Since members had to voluntarily use CAS there had to be some ‘law’ to facilitate their doing so. The problem, as I see it, is that CAS which was designed to be a quick and relatively inexpensive option may have become too expensive for some. If the United TTFA is correct about their assessment concerning the cost of using CAS then that needs to be changed. CAS evolved to deal with contentious matters in sports, among other things. But if CAS has a financial bias then it cannot be an effective solution. The TTFA members are required to have the same ‘no court’ clause in their statutes. In short I do not share the view that rules need to be changed instead I believe that CAS needs to less expensive so that the playing field becomes equal.