Home / Volley / Global Football / Fifa lifts suspension on Nov 19, criticises ex-TTFA officials for ‘hindering’ NC

Fifa lifts suspension on Nov 19, criticises ex-TTFA officials for ‘hindering’ NC

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is once more a full Fifa member, after the world governing body formally lifted its suspension of the Soca Warriors today.

The decision was made by the Bureau of the Fifa Council, which is headed by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, and promptly communicated to Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad in the twin island republic.

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino.
(via Fifa)

The local football body met Fifa’s requirements for re-instatement since Monday 26 October, when the general membership formally recognised the authority of the normalisation committee and closed all legal cases initiated by former president William Wallace against the global body. The Bureau noted, though, that the deadline for an appeal to the Privy Council was on 16 November.

In the end, Fifa took three weeks before finally giving re-admittance to the TTFA on what has long been a meaningful mark on the calendar for local football fans; in remembrance of the infamous 19 November 1989 World Cup qualifier between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States in Port of Spain.

The Strike Squad only needed a draw to qualify for the Italia 1990 World Cup but suffered a traumatic 1-0 in front of a sold out National Stadium.

“Under these circumstances, the Bureau decided on 19 November 2020 to lift the suspension of the TTFA with immediate effect,” stated Samoura. “This means that all of the TTFA’s membership rights have been reinstated, as defined in article 13 of the Fifa Statutes, with immediate effect.

Photo: The Port of Spain National Stadium on 19 November 1989 before kick off between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

“Consequently, TTFA’s representative and club teams are again entitled to take part in international competitions. This also means that the TTFA may benefit from development programmes, courses and training provided by Fifa and/or the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf).

“Moreover, Fifa member associations may again enter into sporting contact with the TTFA and/or its teams.”

(Trinidad and Tobago’s clubs have not competed in Concacaf for two years due to the failure of the David John-Williams-led administration to successfully implement a licensing programme—rather than because of the recent court cases.)

Samoura’s release would be a welcomed bulletin for Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick, who has already restarted training. The Englishman’s contract remains a source of controversy though, since it was signed off by former president William Wallace and general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan with terms not agreed to by the former board.

The Soca Warriors are due to start their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying next March. They are drawn in Group F alongside St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Bahamas.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick (centre) guides his team during practice at the Police Barracks in St James on 3 July 2020.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago, should they top Group F, will then face a play off against the winner of Group A, which comprises of El Salvador, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat and the US Virgin Islands. At stake is a spot in the final Concacaf stage.

The Warriors’ face two potential matches next July for a place at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, as they must defeat Montserrat and then the winner from Cuba and French Guiana.

Should captain Khaleem Hyland’s men achieve that, they will advance to Group A of the Gold Cup alongside Mexico, El Salvador and Curaçao.

Trinidad and Tobago’s football affairs will be guided by Fifa’s normalisation committee rather than the local football board. Fifa initially stated that the Hadad-led committee will remain in place until no later than 26 March 2022.

Thus far, there has been no suggestion of an extension for the committee, which also includes vice-chairperson Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano.

Photo: Trinidad and tobago players (from left to right ) Khaleem Hyland, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus and Sheldon Bateau celebrate after defeating Guatemala 2-1 in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Mateo Flores Stadium, Guatemala City.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Samoura insisted that Wallace and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip were properly removed by Fifa on 17 March 2020—just four months into their respective four-year terms—and criticised their seven month opposition through the courts.

“It is worth mentioning that Fifa never recognised the [pretensions] of the former executive body of the TTFA which was properly and permanently removed by Fifa on 17 March 2020,” stated Samoura, “and regrets the stances and actions taken by such individuals and which significantly and negatively impacted all aspects of Trinidad and Tobago Football.

“Such actions, taken by the removed TTFA executive committee, greatly misdirected the attention of the normalisation committee and hindered its work and execution of its mandate, as the efforts of the normalisation committee in the past months had to focus on countering such actions.

“Fifa is, however, confident that the normalisation committee will now be able to focus on the execution of its assigned tasks.”

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino (left) and secretary general Fatma Samoura.

The duties of the normalisation committee remain to:

  • run the TTFA’s daily affairs;
  • establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA administration;
    review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and ensure their compliance with the Fifa Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress;
  • and organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate.

Samoura suggested that Fifa could yet hire an additional two members to serve on the locally-based normalisation committee.

“The two members yet to be appointed will be required to undergo an eligibility check carried out by the Fifa review committee, in accordance with the Fifa governance regulations,” stated the Fifa missive. “Their confirmation will be contingent upon the outcome of the eligibility check. Furthermore, and as stated in the above-mentioned decision, the Fifa administration—in consultation with Concacaf—reserves the right to revoke the mandate of any of the members of the TTFA.”

Photo: Businessman Robert Hadad was appointed by Fifa on 27 March 2020 as head of Trinidad and Tobago’s normalisation committee.

The going rate for normalisation committee members appears to be US$6,500 (TT$44,000) per month for the chairman and US$4,000 (TT$27,000) for other members. Neither Fifa nor the normalisation committee confirmed the figures paid to the Trinidad and Tobago-based officials.

Hadad has not held a single press conference, virtual or otherwise, since his appointment on 27 March 2020 and largely remains unreachable to journalists.

(Full Fifa letter to normalisation committee)

‘Lifting of the suspension of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’

Dear Mr Hadad,

We write to inform you that the situation of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has been referred to the Bureau of the Council (hereinafter the Bureau) on 17 November 2020.

The Bureau was informed that 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.

Photo: Chief Justice and JLSC chairman Ivor Archie.
Archie was part of a two-member panel that dismissed the TTFA’s case against Fifa from the court of appeal on 23 October 2020.

In this context, 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, CAS was the only recognised path to resolve such dispute.

Additionally, the Bureau was informed that on 26 October 2020, the Fifa administration received the minutes of the TTFA members’ meeting.

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 17 March 2020; be it further resolved that all court matters existing between the TTFA and Fifa shall be immediately brought to a stop’.

Subsequently, the Bureau took note that on 16 November 2020, Fifa was informed that no submission had been made to the Trinidad and Tobago ordinary courts within the relevant deadline for leave to appeal the decision of 23 October 2020 to the Privy Council.

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

Consequently, all types of claims against Fifa before the ordinary courts of Trinidad and Tobago can be considered closed.

Under these circumstances, the Bureau decided on 19 November 2020 to lift the suspension of the TTFA with immediate effect. This means that all of the TTFA’s membership rights have been reinstated, as defined in art 13 of the Fifa Statutes, with immediate effect.

Consequently, TTFA’s representative and club teams are again entitled to take part in international competitions. This also means that the TTFA may benefit from development programmes, courses and training provided by Fifa and/or the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf).

Moreover, Fifa member associations may again enter into sporting contact with the TTFA and/or its teams.

The members of the TTFA normalisation committee will proceed with their duties as outlined in the decision taken by the Bureau of the Fifa Council on 17 March 2020, which was ratified by the Fifa Council on 25 June 2020.

Photo: Fifa president Gianni Infantino raises his arm in celebration after his reelection in Zurich, Switzerland on Friday 26 February 2016.
(Copyright AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The two members yet to be appointed will be required to undergo an eligibility check carried out by the Fifa Review Committee in accordance with the Fifa Governance Regulations. Their confirmation will be contingent upon the outcome of the eligibility check.

Furthermore, and as stated in the above-mentioned decision, the Fifa administration, in consultation with Concacaf, reserves the right to revoke the mandate of any of the members of the TTFA normalisation committee and/or to appoint further members at any time.

It is worth mentioning that FIFA never recognised the pretentions (sic) of the former executive body of the TTFA which was properly and permanently removed by Fifa on 17 March 2020 and regrets the stances and actions taken by such individuals and which significantly and negatively impacted all aspects of Trinidad and Tobago football.

Such actions, taken by the removed TTFA executive committee, greatly misdirected the attention of the normalisation committee and hindered its work and execution of its mandate, as the efforts of the normalisation committee in the past months had to focus on countering such actions.

Photo: TTFA normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad is also the co-CEO of family-owned business HadCo Limited.
(via Trinidad Guardian)

Fifa is, however, confident that the normalisation committee will now be able to focus on the execution of its assigned tasks. We thank you for taking note of the above.

Yours sincerely.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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