FIFA welcomes T&T Court of Appeal victory over TTFA » EntornoInteligente
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Foot­ball’s world gov­ern­ing body, FI­FA, on Sat­ur­day hailed the Trinidad and To­ba­go Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion to squash a re­cent High Court rul­ing against them, in the con­tro­ver­sial case brought by the em­bat­tled T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA).

Ear­li­er this month, Jus­tice Car­ol Gob­in ruled in favour of be­lea­guered TTFA pres­i­dent, William Wal­lace and his three vice pres­i­dents — Clynt Tay­lor, Joseph Sam Phillips, and Su­san Joseph-War­rick (re­signed), con­tend­ing that the nor­mal­i­sa­tion com­mit­tee in­stalled on March 27 by FI­FA “was un­war­rant­ed and in­de­fen­si­ble” and al­so “made in bad faith and for an im­prop­er and il­le­gal mo­tive”. FI­FA had re­moved the TTFA ex­ec­u­tive on March 17 af­ter their au­dit vis­it in Feb­ru­ary.

How­ev­er, FI­FA on Fri­day won their case in the Court of Ap­peal with Chief Jus­tice Ivor Archie and Jus­tice of Ap­peal Nolan Bereaux con­clud­ing that Wal­lace and his TTFA ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers had vi­o­lat­ed the TTFA’s con­sti­tu­tion by chal­leng­ing FI­FA’s de­ci­sion in the lo­cal courts in­stead of be­fore the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport.

On Sat­ur­day in a me­dia re­lease FI­FA stat­ed: “FI­FA wel­comes the de­ci­sion of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Court of Ap­peal, which ruled that the for­mer lead­er­ship of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA) had act­ed un­law­ful­ly by ap­peal­ing to a lo­cal court to con­test the ap­point­ment of a nor­mal­i­sa­tion com­mit­tee for the TTFA.”

The re­lease con­tin­ued: “Among oth­er rel­e­vant le­gal con­sid­er­a­tions, the Court of Ap­peal stressed that in ac­cor­dance with the TTFA statutes and the FI­FA statutes, the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sports (CAS) is the prop­er fo­rum to re­solve such dis­putes. The rul­ing, which has been served to the par­ties yes­ter­day (Fri­day), ful­ly recog­nis­es the es­tab­lished glob­al foot­ball gov­er­nance struc­ture, which re­lies on the CAS as the ex­clu­sive in­ter­na­tion­al­ly recog­nised tri­bunal for the res­o­lu­tion of sports-re­lat­ed dis­putes.”

It con­tin­ued: “A nor­mal­i­sa­tion com­mit­tee was in­stalled in Trinidad and To­ba­go by a de­ci­sion of the FI­FA Coun­cil af­ter it was es­tab­lished that the for­mer lead­er­ship of the TTFA had en­gaged in var­i­ous acts of se­ri­ous mis­man­age­ment. The for­mer lead­er­ship of TTFA lodged a claim be­fore the lo­cal Courts in Trinidad and To­ba­go in or­der to con­test the de­ci­sion of the FI­FA Coun­cil. Yes­ter­day’s de­ci­sion of the Court of Ap­peal over­turns the first-in­stance de­ci­sion of the Lo­cal Court and con­cludes that should the for­mer lead­er­ship of TTFA wish to dis­pute the ap­point­ment of the nor­mal­i­sa­tion com­mit­tee it should ap­peal to CAS.”

The lat­est move al­lows FI­FA to pro­ceed with the nor­mal­i­sa­tion com­mit­tee head­ed by lo­cal busi­ness­man Robert Hadad and in­cludes at­tor­ney Judy Daniel and re­tired banker Nigel Ro­mano, which was put in place last March be­cause of what FI­FA claimed were “ex­treme­ly low over­all fi­nan­cial man­age­ment meth­ods, com­bined with a mas­sive debt”, leav­ing the TTFA “fac­ing a very re­al risk of in­sol­ven­cy and illiq­uid­i­ty”.

Wal­lace, who had on­ly re­placed in­cum­bent David John-Williams fol­low­ing elec­tions on No­vem­ber 24, ini­tial­ly chal­lenged the move be­fore CAS in May but even­tu­al­ly re­sort­ed to the lo­cal courts on May 18, af­ter ac­cus­ing CAS of “ap­par­ent in­sti­tu­tion­al bias”.

Trad­ing as the Unit­ed TTFA, Wal­lace and his team claimed that CAS was bi­ased to­wards FI­FA af­ter it had asked them to pay the 40,000 Swiss francs (TT$276,000) in as­so­ci­at­ed costs in­stead of ask­ing FI­FA to pay its share.

How­ev­er, against the back­drop of the High Court’s rul­ing, Bereaux wrote in his judge­ment that the TTFA was bound by its con­sti­tu­tion to re­solve all dis­putes with FI­FA be­fore CAS.

“The fact that such a pro­vi­sion is en­shrined in the TTFA’s Con­sti­tu­tion means that the TTFA and its ex­ec­u­tive are bound to com­ply. The re­sult is that the fil­ing of these pro­ceed­ings was a breach of the TTFA’s Con­sti­tu­tion. Hav­ing made its choice and hav­ing bound it­self by its own Con­sti­tu­tion to com­ply, it can­not now act out­side of its pro­vi­sions,” he said.

In a fur­ther blow, the Court of Ap­peal al­so or­dered the TTFA to pay FI­FA’s le­gal costs.

On­ly re­cent­ly, Wal­lace said if the Court of Ap­peal ruled against the FA, he would walk away with­out chal­leng­ing the rul­ing be­fore the Privy Coun­cil in Lon­don.

“If we lose this mat­ter, that’s it for me. There is no more ap­peal­ing. I [would] say, ‘Thank you very much’, and I walk away. There is noth­ing like that (ap­peal­ing to the Privy Coun­cil). I have no in­ten­tion of go­ing be­yond our court,” he said.

In the in­ter­im, Trinidad and To­ba­go re­main un­der a sus­pen­sion by FI­FA, im­posed on Sep­tem­ber 24 (T&T Re­pub­lic Day) for a “di­rect breach of Ar­ti­cle 59 of the FI­FA Statutes, which ex­press­ly pro­hibits re­course to or­di­nary courts” in dis­putes by mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions.

In the event, that the sus­pen­sion is not lift­ed by ei­ther FI­FA or the CAS by 5 pm on De­cem­ber 18, T&T will be re­placed by An­tigua and Bar­bu­da as the next high­est-ranked team based on per­for­mances dur­ing the 2019 Con­ca­caf Na­tions League and T&T will al­so miss the qual­i­fy­ing rounds of the 2022 World Cup.

The TTFA is rep­re­sent­ed by at­tor­ney Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Crys­tal Paul and Ja­son Jones, while FI­FA’s le­gal team is Cherie Gopie and M. Hamel-Smith & Co.

(CMC)

LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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