William Wallace moves to end court case against FIFA as suspension looms

By September 23, 2020

Lawyers representing United TTFA have applied to the Trinidad and Tobago High Court of Justice seeking permission to withdraw the claims currently before the court regarding their six-month dispute with FIFA.

The move brings to an end William Wallace's case against FIFA in a bid to avoid being suspended from world football by the sports governing body.

The development comes, sources indicate, after there was majority vote against proceeding with the matter before the court, during an informal meeting of the TTFA on Tuesday night. Twenty-one members voted against pursuing the proceedings against FIFA, sources said. Eight voted in favour.

On May 18, lawyers for the William-Wallace executive had filed an application in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court seeking a permanent injunction to prevent FIFA from interfering or seeking to override the “fair and transparent democratic processes of the TTFA and/or preventing them from removing the executive of duly elected officers from office.”

FIFA filed an appeal that was thrown out by Madame Justice Carol Gobin.

In response, FIFA sent letters to the Normalisation Committee currently in charge of the affairs of the TTFA strongly suggesting that the claims be withdrawn.

Failure to do so by September 23, FIFA said, would result in them initiating proceedings to have the TTFA suspended from international football.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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    Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board member and technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy has announced his retirement from football administration.

    Look Loy, a former T&T national youth player has amassed a long and distinguished career in football administration, serving in various capacities.  In the past several months, however, he has been at the centre of the battle as part of a William Wallace-led association that was replaced with a normalisation committee by FIFA.  

    The association, officially registered as the United TTFA, recently scored a victory as the Trinidad and Tobago High Court ruled the normalisation committee implemented by FIFA was illegal.  The country was, however, suspended for violating the global football body’s statues.  It seems the contentious battle has taken its toll.

    “Now that the central issue of the legality of Fifa’s actions has been adjudicated, it is time for TTFA’s membership to decide the immediate political direction of the Association,” Look Loy said in a release post in full on Wired868.

    “For my part, I have run my race—not only in this matter but in football as a whole. In the aftermath of the seven-month battle between United TTFA and Fifa, with conflicting emotions. I resign the positions of TTSL president, TTFA Board member, and TTFA technical committee chairman. These resignations are effective immediately,” he added.

    Though supported in some quarters, the action by the TTFA against FIFA and the subsequent suspension was not seen in a favourable light by everyone, including many fans.  President of T&T Keith Rowley called the executive’s victory in court a pyrrhic one and the majority of the TTFA had voted to withdraw the case before the court following an emergency meeting.  Another meeting will be held next week to decide the fate of the association.

     “I was born in 1953 under British colonial rule, which our people historically resisted. I am old enough to remember the raising of ‘the red, white and black’ at the magical midnight on 31 August 1962, under the watchful eye of Dr. Eric Williams,” he added.

    “Football has been my lifelong love and labour. I participated in and represented Trinidad and Tobago football, on and off the field, for more than 50 years. Never did I think the day would come when a foreign entity would attempt to seize control of our football. To see many fellow citizens hysterically rationalise, aid, and abet this is unbearable.”

  • Opinion: Rowley was right - TTFA win was loss for country's football Opinion: Rowley was right - TTFA win was loss for country's football

    In light of the devastating impact the recent Trinidad and Tobago High Court ruling could have on the country’s national program, it’s hard to not agree with Prime Minister Keith Rowley's assessment of the victory being a pyrrhic one.

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    Believe it or not, the rest of global football has continued on as usual, in many cases oblivious to the ruling of the court or even suspension of the TTFA.  Qualifiers have continue as planned, and those of us who compete in the region will have the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers to look forward to in short order. 

    There is a simple reason for the overall lack of interest.  While the case has been framed by many of those involved as a once in a lifetime battle of David vs Goliath, the real fact of the matter is surprise, surprise Trinidad and Tobago is not the only country to take FIFA to court, or even to secure a positive court ruling.  Perhaps many sold themselves the same stories at the start of the chapter, but the tale has always ended in much the same manner in a variety of disputes with FIFA.  If there was a case that was going to turn out differently, forgive the incredulity for not believing it would be an association that has racked up debts of almost $US10m and dogged by years of scandals and mismanagement, that breaks that trend.

    Now don’t get me wrong, FIFA as an institution has gotten a lot wrong, on more than one occasion it has proven to be riddled with corruption and can often come off high handed and dictatorial.  However, for many FIFA members, all sovereign states, the deal is a Faustian bargain.  Like it or not, a lot of the organisation’s massive success has to do with its ability to set aside and solve petty grievances and rivalries that often consume international politics and ensure that, for the most part, whatever the stakes there is a game played on the pitch.  A part of that success then means that for many associations FIFA is able to successfully fund a huge part of the development of the game locally.

    For many in the twin-island republic, it is the latter that would cause significant trepidation regarding the ruling.  In the case of the already cash strapped United TTFA, it surely comes down to things like funding needed to secure the livelihood of thousands of workers that serve the sport across the island.  It could mean blighting potentially bright youth prospects, who will not only lack competitions to showcase their talent, but funding to help develop it.  Depending on how long this impasse lasts an inactive national team could not only miss the upcoming World Cup qualifier, but fall behind in preparations for 2026, which will be held in the CONCACAF region and surely be a massive blow for fans if T&T cannot secure one of four extra places.  All in all, steep prices most are not willing to pay for a declaration of sovereignty. 

    In recent interview with my colleges on the SportsMax Zone, which got quite heated at times, well-respected leading sports attorney Dr. Emir Crowne, who was one of the representatives for the TTFA, struggled to put what was achieved by the body for the overall good of the country’s football in any meaningful context.  Understandably, it was a tough job, I suspect outside of mere theoretical platitudes for those in charge, there is no real concrete benefit for the sport be found.  

    As part of her ruling, the High Court judge found the section Article 8(2) of the FIFA Statutes, which speaks to the establishment of normalisation committees, was incongruous with the country’s municipal laws and was hence invalid.  A win, perhaps, but what is the endgame.  In the end, in all likelihood, the TTFA will have to amend the statues of its own association to completely enable its parent association to govern as set out in the statues.  A move previously taken by all other David’s in this battle, no matter how long it takes.

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