The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) will be excluded from the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign—on top of the Concacaf 2021 Gold Cup tournament—if it does not meet the criteria set by Fifa for the lifting of its international suspension by 6pm on 18 December 2020.
The apparent raised stakes in the impasse between the TTFA and the world governing body was relayed today, via an email to Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad.
“By way of this communication, we inform you that Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers for the Concacaf region are scheduled to begin in March 2021,” stated Samoura. “The organisation of such competition entails complex logistical and operational matters intensified by the Covid-19 crisis.
“In view of this, please note that Fifa has decided that, in order to ensure the proper preparation and planning of the participant teams, if the suspension imposed on the TTFA is not lifted by 18.00 CET on 18 December 2020, we have no choice but to exclude the TTFA from participating in the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.”
Curiously, the email was on the Facebook page of former San Fernando Giants board member Anthony Clarke, who is a vocal supporter of ex-TTFA president David John-Williams, before any announcement by Fifa or TTFA.
The ‘update’ came a day after the local courts informed Fifa of a TT$60,000 fee for ‘security for costs’, as a prerequisite for the Swiss-based company’s appeal against a High Court judgment on 13 August. Fifa must pay the Registrar by 15 October at the latest, with the appeal scheduled for 19 October.
Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura said that the governing body is halting the operations of its normalisation committee.
“As a result of the suspension of the TTFA’s membership of Fifa,” stated Samoura, “the normalisation committee which was appointed by Fifa has necessarily ceased all operational and management functions over the TTFA.
“However, we want to highlight that the only legitimate leadership of the TTFA, recognised by Fifa and Concacaf, is the one led by Mr Robert Hadad. Having said this, any communication from Fifa with TTFA will continue to be exclusively being (sic) with Mr Robert Hadad.”
Samoura’s email does not change the timeframe already in play between the aggrieved parties. The TTFA’s substantive motion against the normalisation committee is to be heard on Friday 9 October, with besieged president William Wallace expected to call an extraordinary general meeting thereafter to face his membership.
And what to make of Fifa’s latest missive?
In a nutshell, Trinidad and Tobago is still suspended by Fifa. However, the suspension does not interfere with the Soca Warriors’ ability to play in the Qatar World Cup qualifying series—so long as Fifa president Gianni Infantino gets his way on the twin island republic by 18 December.
So is the TTFA really suspended? Or is it just a third Fifa deadline by another name?
Fifa’s normalisation committee has also been shut down. Yet, Hadad represents the ‘only legitimate leadership’ for football in the country and anyone wishing to correspond with Fifa should go through the businessman.
Does that make Hadad a SRP (something resembling a football president)?
Perhaps there is a clue to Fifa’s behaviour today in going-ons at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, where Fifa filed its defence against the TTFA’s objection to its suspension on 23 September.
Maybe, Infantino felt Fifa might have a tricky time explaining to CAS why it suspended a member association that it claims to control, as a means of punishing officials it says have already been removed while simultaneously continuing to operate the TTFA as normal and schedule the Warriors for international tournaments.
It is worth noting too that Concacaf gave its deadline to the TTFA as 6pm Eastern time on 18 December. Fifa offered a cut off point of 6pm Central European time. They are not the same thing—a point that might need to be made to the body which missed the last deadline by two minutes.
The farce seems far from over.