FIFA suspends Trinidad and Tobago FA
FIFA, football’s world governing body, has suspended the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) with immediate effect for what it says are “grave violations of FIFA statutes”.
The matter surrounds the former leadership of the TTFA lodging a claim before the Trinidadian courts contesting the FIFA Council’s appointment of a normalisation committee for the TTFA. The council alleged that the football association had committed various acts of mismanagement.
“This course of action was in direct breach of Article 59 of the FIFA statutes, which expressly prohibits recourse to ordinary courts unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations,” FIFA said.
FIFA had given the TTFA until September 16 to withdraw the case but then extended that deadline to 3 p.m. Trinidad and Tobago time on September 23.
The TTFA’s legal team filed a notice of application to withdraw the case just before the deadline, but it went no further because no action had been taken in that time by Justice Carol Gobin, who is presiding over the case, prompting FIFA’s decision.
TTFA president William Wallace was cynical about the decision.
“To ask this court for permission to withdraw this claim on the day before Republic Day (September 24) and, in so doing, tacitly accepting that football in T&T continues to be at the whims and fancy of the defendant, who is bullying and coercing the TTFA into bending its knee, makes me feel physically sick,” Wallace said in an affidavit attached to the application.
Wallace was also sceptical about the timing of the draw for the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament, suggesting that the timing of the deadline, FIFA’s subsequent levying of the suspension, and the draw are connected.
“I can say that this is unusual because the Gold Cup (held every two years) is not until July 2021, and normally, the draw usually happens approximately two months before the tournament,” Wallace said in a Trinidad Guardian report.
Wallace said that this led to him and his legal team taking the decision to submit the application to prevent being excluded from the tournament.
FIFA says that “the suspension will only be lifted when the TTFA fully complies with its obligations as a member of FIFA, including recognising the legitimacy of the appointed normalisation committee and bringing its own statutes into line with the FIFA statutes”.
But Dr Emir Crowne, a member of TTFA’s legal team, says they are not giving up on their cause just yet.
“We are considering all legal options and will reveal what we can in due course, especially given the considerable public importance of the matter,” Crowne told The Gleaner.
FIFA’s decision affects not only the TTFA’s plans for the Gold Cup but also its upcoming Concacaf Nations League and FIFA World Cup qualification campaigns.