By Paul Nicholson
October 26 – The United TTFA members who for eight months have tried to retain power over the Trinidad and Tobago FA after being kicked out by a FIFA Normalisation Committee, have been humiliated twice in three days.
On Friday the former TTFA president William Wallace, his string-pulling wingman Keith Look Loy, and the former TTFA board were dealt a first blow in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court last Friday that quashed a previous ruling in their favour and ruled that FIFA was within its rights to impose a Normalisation Committee and that any appeal should have been before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and not in the country’s courts.
On Sunday the rank and file stakeholders of the TTFA then delivered the killer blow to Wallace and crew voting 33 to 0 (with two abstensions) to “fully comply with the Normalisation Committee” and to end all court disputes.
Wallace and his former board, having called the meeting, failed to attend though he reportedly maintains that neither he nor the board have resigned their positions.
In reality it is of no particular importance as FIFA has at no stage recognised Wallace’s ‘breakaway’ TTFA or engaged with Wallace. For FIFA it is simple, they have always been in charge of world football, whether people in Trinidad and Tobago want to participate or not. The FIFA ban only prevented football teams and players from the country engaging with the rest of the world, and receiving funding from FIFA, though Concacaf have left a door open with a December 18 deadline open for re-admittance to their competitions (perhaps generously considering the vitriolic abuse that came from the islands towards it). FIFA subsequently adopted the same deadline for 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The reality Trinidad and Tobago football has had to deal with is that Wallace, Look Loy and their ‘United TTFA’ group were falsely claiming to be in charge of an organisation they had been removed from – though theirs was an organisation that traded heavily on false claims from the election fraud of forged documents, to fake sponsorships and dubious staff contracts. In the months of dispute, the reasons why FIFA’s Normalisation Committee were imposed in the first instance were forgotten locally. They still have to be dealt with.
Even when Wallace was removed by FIFA’s Normalisation Committee he still used TTFA letterhead to communicate and signed as president of the TTFA.
That they had no TTFA status was confirmed by their own country’s court ruling on Friday which confirmed the Normalisation Committee as the organising body in charge of Trinidad and Tobago.
The vote at the meeting will similarly be of little importance to FIFA, except that it will show a significant move by the rank and file membership to recognise FIFA’s authority and send a message that they want to be part of global football and, perhaps more to the point, return to FIFA’s multi-million dollar annual grant aid and competitions.
It has taken eight months of self-inflicted destruction to get to this point with the only real losers being the players. It would have been considerably more painful if there hadn’t been the coronavirus-enforced suspension of football internationally.
Wallace and Look Loy, the most outspoken and aggressive of the United TTFA protagonists who hysterically claimed that FIFA was occupying his country, believed they had the legal and moral high ground. By the time the court ruled Look Loy had announced his ‘resignation’ from football and slithered off to be a somewhat poisonous social media agitator in the shadows. Perhaps to his credit Wallace maintained his position but there was no moral or legal argument left open to him.
Now FIFA can re-engage with the rebuilding of the TTFA, starting with its Normalisation Committee. It is a process that should have begun in earnest eight months ago.
The judge in his ruling referred to the imposition of the Normalisation Committee “out of concern for the governance of the TTFA including the parlous state of its finances and its lack of internal controls”.
Those concerns have only increased and in terms of the debt, worsened.
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