It is almost two weeks since the court of appeal broke the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s legal resistance to Fifa, with the local football body’s member delegates swiftly voting to subsequently hand its reins to the governing body’s normalisation committee.
Having forced regime change, Fifa president Gianni Infantino is in no hurry to decide what happens next with the twin island republic though.
This afternoon, Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura sent an update to normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad, which was relayed to stakeholders by his assistant Amiel Mohammed.
Samoura used 271 words to summarise what happened two weeks ago but just 10 words to address the TTFA’s future: ‘An update will be provided to you in due course’.
At present, the Soca Warriors remain suspended from international football due to a sanction imposed by the Bureau of the Fifa Council, headed by Infantino, on 24 September.
The TTFA has until 18 December to get the Bureau to lift the suspension, so as to retain its place in the Qatar 2020 World Cup qualifying series and the Concacaf 2021 Gold Cup tournament.
Fifa did not suggest that the TTFA has any remaining tasks left before being eligible for full re-admittance to its fold, as an unspecified constitutional amendment appears to no longer be deemed vital—once Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Justice of Appeal Nolan Bereaux ruled that the local body was obliged to adhere to its arbitration clause with the Court of Arbitration in Lausanne, Switzerland.
On 17 March, the Infantino-led Bureau declared that it had thrown out then president William Wallace, vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip, and the TTFA Board—just four months into their term of office—due to ‘extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt’ which was ‘putting at risk the organisation and development of football in the country and corrective measures need to be applied urgently’.
Wallace and his United TTFA slate claimed that Fifa acted out of spite and self-preservation.
Former TTFA president David John-Williams, who was voted out of office on 24 November 2019, was previously described by Infantino as his ‘teammate’ and the divisive figure continues to serve on the Fifa Player Status Committee.
And, arguably just as relevant, general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan threatened in January to probe Fifa’s role in the controversial TTFA Home of Football, which is now a matter of police inquiries.
Any chance of the TTFA further investigating the project—and Fifa’s involvement in it—disappeared once the governing body took control of the former’s Couva headquarters.
Hadad, a local businessman, has often repeated that he is only interested in ‘looking forward’ and has no intention of rummaging through the TTFA’s skeletons.
With the TTFA no longer posing any threat for a potential embarrassment, Fifa’s enthusiasm for addressing other legitimate issues affecting the local game appears to have cooled.
Samoura did not give a timeline for when Fifa will decide to reactivate its normalisation committee or take the local game off pause.
Full Fifa letter from secretary general Fatma Samoura:
On 23 October 2020, Fifa acknowledged receipt of the decision of the Trinidad and Tobago Court of Appeal in the case to which Fifa was a respondent party. In this context, the decision of the Court of Appeal ruled that the former leadership of the TTFA had acted unlawfully by appealing to a local court to contest the appointment by Fifa of the Normalisation Committee for the TTFA.
In addition, the Court of Appeal stressed that in accordance with art 57 par 1 of the Fifa Statutes and art 67 of the TTFA statutes, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) is the only recognised path to resolve such dispute.
Furthermore, the Fifa administration acknowledges the receipt of written proof that on 25 October 2020 a meeting was held among the TTFA members.
In this context, we duly take note that the members of the TTFA expressed themselves and decided that ‘[…] the way forward for the TTFA is: for the TTFA to fully comply with its obligations as a member of Fifa, recognising the legitimacy of the Fifa-appointed normalisation committee, and; bringing its own statutes in line with the Fifa statutes, and; to fully cooperate with the normalisation committee in the fulfilment of its mandate as stated in Fifa’s letter of March 17th, 2020; be it further resolved that all court matters existing between the TTFA and Fifa shall be immediately brought to a stop’.
In light of the above, Fifa welcomes both decisions and is assessing the matter internally. An update will be provided to you in due course.
We thank you for taking note of the above and for sharing the above mentioned information with the relevant individuals.