By Prior Beharry
FIFA has suspended the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) with immediate effect.
The world governing body of football stated in a release on Thursday (September 24) that the suspension was due to “grave violations of FIFA statutes.” Coincidentally September 24 is a public holiday in T&T recognising when the twin-island nation became a Republic in 1976.
The suspension means that none of TTFA teams or clubs will be allowed to participate in any FIFA sanctioned competitions. This includes the T&T senior national football team in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
In an immediate response Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe told a local radio station that she was disappointed but not surprised.
In an email on Thursday to chairman of the Normalisation Committee Robert Hadad, the Secretary General of FIFA Fatma Samoura said TTFA has been referred to the Bureau of the Council on September 23, 2020.
Samoura said the bureau was informed that its decision on March 17, 2020 to set up a normalisation committee for TTFA was challenged in court.
The secretary general noted that the challenge was brought by member of the former executive of TTFA “purporting to act in the name of the TTFA.”
Samoura said this course of action breached article 59 of FIFA statutes “which expressly stipulates the prohibition on recourse to ordinary courts of law unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.”
She said, “Additionally, the Bureau was informed that the institution and maintenance of those proceedings by these individuals, purporting to act in the name of the TTFA, in complete disregard for the FIFA statutes threatens the stability of the structure of football governance, both in Trinidad and Tobago and globally.”
Samoura said, “In light of this, the FIFA administration informed the TTFA and insisted that the claim be withdrawn from the High Court by September 16, 2020.
“Such a withdrawal has not occurred. Indeed a further injunction naming FIFA as a defendant was raised in the High Court of T&T seeking to prevent the holding of an extraordinary general meeting of TTFA.”
He said the suspension would be lifted only when:
- TTFA complies with the terms and conditions of its membership of FIFA as set out in its statutes
- TTFA acknowledges and confirms FIFA’s power and authority to appoint a normalisation committee subject only to the right of TTFA to appeal such a decision to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS).
- TTFA statutes are amended to ensure that all types of disputes only be submitted to the established dispute resolution forum at CAS.
And in an immediate response, head of the normalisation committee Hadad said they made every possible effort to prevent the suspension.
He said, “On several occasions we managed to have deadlines extended; and we appealed to the few individuals from the previous regime to drop their legal action and do the right thing.
“Unfortunately, those few individuals have put their own interests before the TTFA’s. They knew very well this approach would have serious consequences for football in our country and yet they still pressed ahead with their own agenda.
“Their actions have had no regard for the coaches, the players and the fans in our country.”
Hadad said he was tired of the legal wrangling, the disputes and the constant focus on off-field problems in T&T football.
He said, “The FIFA appointed Normalisation Committee is the only way forward; it still the only recognised body by FIFA and the football family needs to work with us so we can put everything into getting this suspension lifted; it is incumbent on us to come together and fix the TTFA for the good of future generations.”