By Paul Nicholson
September 24 – The ‘United TTFA’ missed the FIFA deadline by minutes to apply to withdraw their case against the world governing, but the rogue former TTFA officials look to have deliberately sabotaged the chances of getting a withdrawal by submitting within the affidavit by William Wallace statements that they have been “pressured” and “coerced” to withdraw.
A notice for a discontinuation of legal proceedings in Trinidad and Tobago is a short, brief affidavit. By introducing Wallace’s (pictured) longer and emotionally charged affidavit, they are setting up for ‘coercion to withdraw’, a basis on which a judge would be very unlikely grant a withdrawal of the case.
For the United TTFA it would effectively set up a hearing that would in turn give them more time to lobby FIFA member federations for support that has so far been non-existent. It appears a deliberate attempt to escalate the battle with FIFA rather than help move TTFA football forward.
It would unlikely halt the next stage of FIFA’s suspension proceedings, or investigation into the multiple irregularities surrounding Wallace and his regime.
In his affidavit Wallace says: “It is the case that the members of the Executive and myself, have been under immense public pressure to ‘withdraw’ the claim. This does not mean to suggest that there is not support for the action we have taken but people are afraid that if we do not withdraw the action, FIFA will take punitive steps against Trinidad and Tobago.”
What Wallace doesn’t say is that FIFA has no objection to his challenging of his, and his board’s, removal, but that it should be done in the globally accepted sports courts with independent arbitrators who are specialists in sports malfeasance and disputes. Wallace and the former chair of the TTFA technical committee Keith Look Loy vociferously chose to withdraw from that process, instead saying they had a better chance of success in the Trinidad and Tobago courts with local judges – in itself a strong argument for the existence of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Wallace says that he has been advised by Counsel, Dr Emir Crowne, “that should any punitive action be taken by FIFA in respect of the membership of FIFA because the TTFA is engaged in a legitimate action before the Trinidad and Tobago High Court, this would not withstand objective scrutiny before any competent tribunal.”
This is correct but it is also grossly misleading as the TTFA’s statutes recognise CAS as the only competent tribunal for sports disputes – and at last look, this is a sports dispute whatever nationalist spin Wallace and his team put on it. Wallace and his cronies don’t recognise CAS as it doesn’t suit their somewhat manufactured narrative and attempts to cover up the reasons they were removed from office in the first instance.
Referencing an informal meeting of TTFA stakeholders he called, he says “many members were overwhelmingly of the view that FIFA is acting in bad faith (and in concert with Concacaf) to coerce the TTFA into withdrawing the claim against the Defendant. My firm view is that they are acting out of fear and not in the long-term interests of the TTFA.”
This is one of the most remarkable of Wallace’s assertions. It is not clear what FIFA has to be afraid of, it is merely following its own well defined statutes and procedures and in this case has never pretended otherwise – statutes that Wallace and crew refuse to follow but which are in their own laws.
However, he then acknowledges that the “majority of persons” (read ‘overwhelming majority’ and not all TTFA stakeholders were present or had been invited) were of the view that Wallace should withdraw proceedings. His affidavit follows that recommendation but in reality the text of his affidavit looks deliberately designed to achieve the opposite and is an abuse of the membership request he says he agreed to.
Wallace then references the draw for the Gold Cup that he says has never been held so early. Again, it is what he leaves out that is important. He fails to mention that this is the first time there has actually been a public draw for the Gold Cup and that for major competitions it is standard practice to hold the draw in advance of the competition for multiple commercial and logistical reasons. He then, somewhat incredibly, tries to tie this in with “a substantial injection of funds from FIFA” into Jamaica, “and these matters are unlikely to be a coincidence in all of the circumstances.”
Quite what he is alluding to is unclear as it is more likely Jamaica were in compliance for a release of funds that was due to them. Or perhaps he and his group just have their somewhat entitled hands out for FIFA money – the suspicion of most football observers.
“I do not believe the claim should be withdrawn, and I believe that it is wrong to submit and withdraw the claim, in the face of being bullied to do so by the Defendant. I believe the Defendant is more afraid than ever before…” says Wallace.
Frankly, it is self-deluding of Wallace to believe he and his group have struck fear into the heart of world football as they have been removed from participating in it, and are not recognised by FIFA as football officials in any capacity.
Perhaps the most ludicrous part of his affidavit is where he says: “I believe this will be catastrophic for Trinidad and Tobago, and all small nations who may seek to challenge FIFA’s imperialistic ambitions in the future.”
Where once these islands had the dreadful and oppressive tentacles of the British Empire, now they would appear to have squadrons of FIFA attack forces massing off their beaches waiting for the greenlight to storm the House of Football, parliament, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith’s (a keen football fan) Ivory Tower, and impose house arrest and martial law on the country because it would not recognise the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as a competent sports dispute authority.
What Wallace forgets is that this is the country that has bent over backwards – and bent its own laws backwards – to prevent the extradition of football’s Most Wanted, Jack Warner, to the US to face multiple criminal charges of extortion, money laundering, bribery and graft. Not even US Navy Seals could get their hands on him… but watch out for that FIFA invasion people.
The links Wallace and his group – in particular Sam Phillip and Keith Look Loy – have with Warner has been well documented in local media. Rumours persist that Warner is paying their legal fees, though none of the named claimants in the case have confirmed this and refuse to answer any questions from Insideworldfootball. They have been very quick to speak to their local, friendly and primed domestic media in the battle for public opinion in Trinidad and Tobago.
However public and football opinion has turned against them as the realisation that a FIFA suspension would mean the removal of Trinidad and Tobago from the upcoming Concacaf Gold Cup, World Cup qualifiers and beyond. This was seen in the Wallace-called meeting of stakeholders that unanimously asked him to drop the court case.
His affidavit is a cleverly constructed catalogue of misinformation to keep United TTFA in a game they have been removed from. It also misrepresents the informal request from his former supporters to pull out of the court action – it is hard to find anyone who was ever really behind it.
Wallace at no point addresses the fraudulent activities that characterised their own short and destructive three months in charge that inevitably led to his forced removal by a FIFA Normalisation Committee. He has never answered the accusations of false contracts, dodgy dealers, election fraud, attempted construction scams and accounting malpractice. That is what really needs to be addressed. His answer to that is to blame it on the bloke before him. That is a smokescreen no-one has been fooled by.
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