Trinidad and Tobago High Court Justice Carol Gobin will hand down a decision on August 13 whether the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) will be compelled to abide by the arbitration process at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or whether FIFA will be subject to the jurisdiction of the TT High Court in their ongoing dispute.

The TTFA and FIFA have been in dispute since March when FIFA dissolved the association’s administration who were in office four months and installed a normalization committee to oversee the affairs of the debt-ridden association.

TTFA took the matter to the CAS but later withdrew citing fears of institutional bias.

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.

They are also seeking a permanent injunction against FIFA preventing FIFA and/or its agents from interfering with the day-to-day management of the association, including its bank accounts, website and real property.

Attempts at mediation failed when FIFA decided to withdraw citing a lack of confidentiality.

FIFA now wants the court to send the matter back before the CAS.

On Wednesday, the parties appeared before the Honourable Justice Carol Gobin after FIFA filed an application on June 15, 2020, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to adjudicate on the impending issues between the parties.

The TTFA was represented by attorneys-at-law Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Crystal Paul and Jason Jones of New City Chambers while FIFA was represented by Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, Jonathan Walker and Cherie Gopie of M Hamel-Smith and Co.

Hamel-Smith submitted that the TTFA’s commencement of the proceedings before the TT High Court was an act beyond its legal authority and that the TTFA’s commencement of the proceedings before the TT High Court was done without the due and proper authority of those who purported to do so on behalf of the TTFA.

Hamel-Smith also submitted that proceedings be stayed in favour of arbitration at CAS as agreed between TTFA and FIFA. He also submitted that the permission initially granted to the TTFA to issue and serve the originating documents outside of the jurisdiction be set aside as, among other reasons, electronic service of the documents were contrary to Swiss Law.

However, in submissions for the TTFA, Dr Emir Crowne said the TTFA was created by an Act of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament and so if the Parliament intended to abdicate its supervision and/or jurisdiction over the TTFA- thereby ousting the jurisdiction of the TT High Court- then the Parliament would have clearly done so.

These submissions were made in support of Dr Crowne’s insistence that the matter before the Court posed far-reaching public policy implications of which the Court should consider.

As it relates to Swiss Law, Dr Crowne indicated that the question should not have any significant relevance since the alleged breaches, torts, property rights and other issues affecting the TTFA are all occurring and have its ultimate effect within Trinidad and Tobago, not Switzerland.

Further, he contended that the FIFA submitted no evidence before the Court to support its assertions regarding Swiss Law and the TTFA’s service of its originating documents outside of Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr Crowne also raised the issue of the institutional bias at CAS and whether there was, in fact, an enforceable agreement between the TTFA and FIFA to arbitrate before the CAS.

He submitted that the decision to be bound by the arbitration clause, as FIFA alleges, cannot be said to have been entered into freely by the TTFA given the drastic consequences to the TTFA of not being affiliated or participating in international football.

It will now come down to Justice Gobin’s decision on August 13.

“The TTFA, perhaps like many other stakeholders of Trinidad and Tobago football, patiently awaits the ruling of the Honourable Court in this Application,” said Jason Jones in a comment to Sportsmax.TV.

Prior to the start of Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Gobin asked whether the parties would consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. The TTFA said it was willing to engage in mediation. However, FIFA reiterated that it remains willing only to engage in arbitration before the CAS.

 

FIFA has agreed to settle their dispute with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) through mediation.

Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser has retained the services of Trinidadian attorneys and barristers Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle, who will be her representatives in upcoming anti-doping proceedings for whereabouts violations before an Independent Disciplinary Tribunal.

FIFA has retained the services of the renowned Law Offices of Dr Claude H. Denbow S.C. in their dispute with the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) that is now before the Trinidad and Tobago High Court of Justice.

The William Wallace executive, guided by Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle of New City Chambers, is 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.”

They are also seeking a permanent injunction against FIFA preventing FIFA and/or its agents from interfering with the day-to-day management of the association, including its bank accounts, website and real property.

They are also seeking damages and costs.

FIFA’s attorneys filed their entry of the appearance in the courts on Tuesday stating their intent to defend their decision to dissolve the TTFA board and appoint a normalisation committee to oversee the running of the TTFA, mere months after the board was voted into office in November 2019.

“We will be responding to the claimant’s case in early court and I am not allowed to discuss our client’s business,” said instructing attorney Donna Denbow,

“It is not our practice to discuss our client’s business in public. We will be putting our case on paper before the judge in early court.”

The matter stems from FIFA’s decision to dissolve the William-Wallace-led board four months after the November-24 elections in which the David John-Williams executive was swept from power.

FIFA, in a letter dated March 17, 2020, notified the TTFA that it was appointing a normalization committee citing the association’s extremely low or non-existent financial management and financial governance.

William Wallace said the decision was befuddling since the bulk of the TTFA’s TT$50 million debt was accrued under the previous administration.

Lawyers representing the ousted executive mentioned this concern in a letter to FIFA on March 20.

“The political backdrop of this matter is not lost on those we represent. The ‘existing debt of at least US$5.5m was wholly accumulated under or as a consequence of actions taken during the previous TTFA administration.

“That notwithstanding, FIFA stood idly by and took no punitive steps whatsoever. Now, in the face of a new administration with less than three months substantive tenure, which now threatens to uncover the rank impropriety of the previous administration by installing a regime of financial probity, the FIFA steps in an attempt to prevent this,” the lawyers wrote.

The executive took the matter to the Court for Arbitration for Sport but eventually withdrew over fears over what they described as ‘institutional bias’ in favour of football’s world governing body.

 

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)  led by William Wallace have written to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) expressing concern over what they have described as a “number of irregularities which have arisen, irregularities that have caused their clients to believe their right to a fair hearing has been impugned.”

Wallace and his executive have taken FIFA to CAS over the latter’s decision to appoint a normalization committee to oversee the running of the TTFA, which in effect sidelined the Wallace-led executive that was constitutionally elected in November 2009.

Among the concerns to which the lawyers - Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle - refer arose from correspondence from CAS in which it mentioned hiked costs Wallace and his executive are being compelled to pay in advance of the tribunal hearing while at the same time declaring that FIFA will not pay arbitration costs in advance in matters such as these.

The costs mentioned amount to 40,000 Swiss Francs or approximately US$41,000, which the Wallace-led executive, the Appellants, must pay in full. The lawyers said that they are unsure how CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees.

According to the correspondence obtained by Sportsmax.TV, CAS indicated that “as a general rule, FIFA does not pay any arbitration costs in advance when it acts as a Respondent in a procedure before CAS, which is admissible to CAS pursuant to Article R64.2 of the Code. This means that, according to the same provision of the Code, the Appellant has to pay the entirety of the advance of costs.”

In response, Dr Emir Crowne penned a letter to CAS on Thursday, May 7, arguing that the costs are unfair “…particularly since the hearing would have likely taken place by video conference and the usual travel costs of the panel and the CAS’ counsel would have been eliminated.

“To that end, we are genuinely unsure how the CAS facilitates access to justice with such extravagant fees. The Appellants are not from the developed world, nor are they as well-financed as the Respondent.”

The lawyers also argue that the matter is made even more alarming since the tribunal accepted without question FIFA’s submission that they wanted the matter heard by three arbitrators, thus tripling the associated costs.

“On its face, therefore, the CAS appears to be a willing participant in the Respondent’s gamesmanship, especially if the CAS had institutional knowledge that the Respondent – an entity with immeasurable financial resources – would not be advancing their share of the arbitration costs,” the lawyers said.

“This is at least an unacceptable display of apparent institutional bias.”

In light of the development, the lawyers revealed that FIFA subsequently issued a letter to the CAS indicating that they (CAS) must suspend FIFA’s response to the Appellants until the Appellants pay the full costs. CAS, they said, has agreed that FIFA should be able to benefit from the extension.

“As it stands, there are very real doubts that the CAS remains an appropriate and fair forum for the resolution of this dispute,” the lawyers concluded.

 

 

 

 

Football’s world governing body FIFA is against the appointment of a single arbitrator to hear the dispute between it and the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

FIFA’s latest football rankings published this week listed the Caribbean powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago at 105th in the world, their second-lowest in history.

A Normalization Committee appointed by FIFA is charged with sorting out dire financial and administrative affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA) but will the virus that has seen the regional giants plummet to their lowest levels all-time be tackled as well in this process?

The eight-time Caribbean Football Union (CFU) champions have now spent a 10th consecutive month outside the world’s top-100.

The last time T&T’s Soca Warriors were the top-rated Caribbean team on the FIFA Coca-Cola Rankings was October 2016. From 65th in the world three and a half years ago, they have steadily plunged to embarrassing levels, not good enough for a football programme that had long been regarded as the best in the Caribbean.

Absorbed in a political football power war in the past year that included acrimonious election campaigning and subsequent unseating of David John-Williams (DJW) as President, T&T’s football results have been ghastly.

The Coronavirus has dismantled all sporting schedules globally and maybe it’s a good thing for T&T’s football since the inactivity may have eased their fans from some more painful match results.

Former England international and 1986 World Cup defender Terry Fenwick is the new head coach, replacing Dennis Lawrence and the straight-talking ex-defender’s job is likely to be negatively impacted by the current administrative turmoil.

Indeed, there are already media reports of heated exchanges Fenwick has had with the Technical team over dissatisfaction with efforts to sort out passports for foreign-born players being targeted for T&T representation.

T&T’s football fraternity is divided over FIFA’s intervention that sidelined last November’s elected executive, whose attorneys Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne have now gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in an effort to annul FIFA’s intervention.

FIFA’s track record globally clearly indicates they are powerful enough and have the right to intervene in any of its 211 affiliates’ administrative affairs if they are deemed not to be following the FIFA Statutes -- rules and regulations – that they themselves have signed to.

Opponents of the FIFA intervention in T&T reason that it was indecently done, given the fact the new executive had only been in place for three months, trying to tackle massive financial problems that were largely inherited.

The fact that serious financial problems existed when John-Williams was boss and FIFA did not intervene, begs the question why didn’t they at the time? The answer is fairly obvious. John-Williams has a good relationship with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and profited from FIFA’s support and understanding.

Days ahead of the November 24, 2019 TTFA elections, Infantino attended the glitzy opening of John-Williams’s biggest project, the “Home of Football” in Couva and he praised DJW as a leader displaying “wisdom and vision” with the project the FIFA President said represented “an investment in the future”.

Unruffled that T&T were just coming off setting all-time records for longest losing streak, winless streak and run of games without scoring, Infantino downplayed results in a SportsMax interview with George Davis, declaring firmly that when there is a heavy investment in stability with an eye for future development it was wrong to make a “sporting result (loss)” become a “tragedy” or a “catastrophe”.

Asserting obvious support for DJW’s team ahead of the TTFA Elections, Infantino defended the Home of Football investment as a building tool for the country’s football. “You need to build, you need to be stable … and that’s exactly what has been done and then the results will come because of the seriousness of the investment. We have now a solid foundation in this so that football can grow and be built and I am sure this will happen in the future with John-Williams,” Infantino said.

Infantino’s “future with John-Williams” narrative was ruined by DJW’s 26-20 loss to William Wallace’s men at the TTFA polls and I suspect that as far as FIFA is concerned, the wrong men are in charge.

A FIFA/CONCACAF audited study of the TTFA’s Finances in February apparently triggered the move to step in and remove the elected officials even though General Secretary Ramesh Ramdhan had reported to local media then that the mission was favourable and that FIFA were on their side.  

Leadership of major sporting organisations has long been about politics and power and football presidency at the global and confederation levels perfectly illustrate this.

I attended a few Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress sessions that were open to the media during Jack Warner’s reign and saw the God-like sway he held over his subjects as a FIFA Vice-President and the CONCACAF Chief.

With that power, also came freedom to make unobstructed decisions, especially in a FIFA culture fashioned by Joao Havelange that while financially flourishing always had integrity question marks.

Brazilian Havelange, widely considered Warner’s mentor, enjoyed a 24-year reign -- before Sepp Blatter took over in 1998 – that boasted exponential football growth while never entertaining opposition. History shows you don’t fight FIFA and win so the odds are heavily against the relegated TTFA executive challenging this move by FIFA.

In the meantime, T&T’s football fans deserve more from their national team. Their October 2010 ranking of 106th in a brief sojourn outside FIFA’s top-100 almost 10 years ago, is the only ever weaker ranking position than they have now. Heading for a whole year outside FIFA’s top-100 as they are now, is unheard of in T&T’s glamorous football history.

How and when will the turnaround happen? Fenwick did not make it as a manager in his native England, but has had success in T&T, copping Pro League titles with Central FC (twice) and San Juan Jabloteh. He knows the T&T landscape well enough but appears short on the kind of talent that has propelled T&T’s International programme in the past.

Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad, Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano along with the yet-to-be-named others on a five-member panel will have a tough job resuscitating T&T’s football, especially in this contentious climate fraught with bitterness and legal dispute.

Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle, the lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have proposed that Mark Hovell, a solicitor from Manchester, England, be the sole arbitrator in their case against football’s world governing body FIFA.

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) are demanding that FIFA withdraw their letter appointing the normalisation committee following their failure to respond to correspondence challenging the legality of said committee and the appointment of an interim manager.

They also declared that Tyril Patrick’s decision to remove himself as interim manager of the TTFA further strengthens their position.

On March 21, 2020, Patrick, who was the accountant employed by the previous TTFA administration, responded to the attorneys’ assertion that his appointment was invalid, stating that he was no longer accepting the appointment and that he had informed FIFA of his decision.

The lawyers, Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne, in a series of letters to Member Association Services Manager Sofia Malizia, questioned the motives behind FIFA’s installation of the normalization committee that replaced the executive that was constitutionally elected in November 2019.

“The political backdrop of this matter is not lost on those we represent,” Gayle wrote. “The ‘existing debt of at least USD 5.5’ was wholly accumulated under, or as a consequence of actions taken during the previous TTFA administration.

“That notwithstanding, FIFA stood idly by and took no punitive steps whatsoever. Now, in the face of a new administration with less than three months substantive tenure, which now threatens to uncover the rank impropriety of the previous administration by installing a regime of financial probity, the FIFA steps in an attempt to prevent this.

“It is passing strange that you purport to have installed Tyril Patrick, the accountant who oversaw at least in part the amassing of the very debt that the FIFA now complains of.”

Gayle and Dr Crowne also questioned the veracity of FIFA’s decision.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association is a sovereign body established by an Act of Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago by way of Act 17 of 1982, The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (Incorporation) Act, 1982.

“The duly elected executive or any individual member may only demit office by operation of the constitution of the TTFA, which makes no allowance for the appointment of yourself or any other person to ‘oversee’ the day to day affairs of the TTFA as the FIFA letter purports to do or in any other capacity in place of the duly elected executive.

“It is, therefore, our client’s respectful view that the FIFA letter is null, void and no legal effect. It is not in any way binding on them.”

FIFA had until 8:00 am Monday, March 23, to respond to the lawyers but did not, which prompted the lawyers to draft another letter stating their position.

“As you will no doubt we aware by this point, Mr. Patrick has declined to accede to your unlawful and/or void and/or improper and/or unconstitutional attempts to interfere in the day-to-day running of the TTFA by the duly elected executive, led by President Mr. William Wallace,” Mr Gayle wrote.

“Our client’s respectful view is that your failure to respond by the stipulated deadline, coupled with Mr. Patrick’s clear indication that for his part he recognises the sovereignty of the TTFA, is a clear indication that FIFA itself has acknowledged the sovereign nature of the TTFA, ought rightly to put this matter to an end.”

Lawyers representing the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) have written to FIFA, football’s world governing body questioning the timing of the appointment of the Normalisation Committee that has taken over the running of the association.

The William Wallace-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is challenging FIFA’s decision to appoint a normalisation committee in a move that could see the matter appear the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

They have retained the services of noted attorneys Dr Emir Crowne and Matthew Gayle of New City Chambers to represent them in this regard.

"The current executive of the TTFA intends to challenge FIFA's appointment of a normalisation committee to oversee the affairs of the association and will seek whatever provisional measures are available to it to maintain the status quo until the matter is fairly adjudicated," Dr Crowne confirmed to Sportsmax.TV on Wednesday.

Wallace unseated David John-Williams at the TTFA elections held in November 2019 after a contentious campaign over several issues, including the handling of the FA’s financial affairs. However, just months later the new leadership have found themselves facing the scrutiny of the world governing body, who have decided to intervene.

In a letter sent by FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, TTFA General Secretary Ramesh Ramdhan, FIFA outlined their concerns about the financial status of the TTFA.

FIFA said its fact-finding mission found, among other concerns, that the “overall condition of financial management and financial governance extremely low or non-existent at the TTFA.

“There are currently no formal internal policies and internal controls in place, such as procurement, the delegation of financial authorities, financial planning and budgeting, effective oversight of funding and management reporting, which are necessary to meet the TTFA’s objectives.”

FIFA also said there is a lack of documented policies and procedures, financial planning and management of statutory liabilities adding that there no short or long-term plan to address the “urgent” situation.

Going further, FIFA expressed the concern that given the situation along with the USD$5.5m debt, the TTFA “faces a very real risk of both insolvency and illiquidity if corrective measures are not applied urgently.”

As such, the normalisation committee has been mandated to run the daily affairs of the TTFA, establish a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA, as well as review and amend the TTFA statutes and ensure their compliance with FIFA statutes and requires before submitting them to the TTFA Congress for approval.

The committee will also organize and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive for a four-year term.

 

 

 

 

 

Trinidad and Tobago athlete Quincy Wilson is suing the National Association of Athletic Associations over what he claims is the association’s negligence which caused him to become injured thereby losing the ability to earn, to train and prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

The suit was filed in Trinidad and Tobago's High Court of Justice on Monday. Dr Emir Crowne, Matthew Gayle, Crys­tal Paul, and Ja­son Jones are representing the disaffected athlete.

The 28-year-old Wilson is an eight-time national champion and holds the national record of 59.65m. He has also represented Trinidad and Tobago at the CARIFTA Games and in 2011 won a bronze medal at the NACAC U23 Championships in Mexico.

In late July, on or about the 28th, Wilson was competing at the national championships. He stepped into the ring and executed two throws. Two other throws were fouls. However, on his fifth throw, he slipped and fell.

According to court documents obtained by Sportsmax.TV, Wilson suffered shock and severe pain, a meniscal tear in his right knee, pain in both knees. He subsequently experienced psychological damage, mental anguish and a loss of quality of life.

Wilson claims his subsequent inability to train has affected his mood and personality, and he is unable to carry out his household chores and his responsibilities as a husband and father.

He blames the NAAA in that they or their employees painted or covered the discus circle with the wrong substance making it slippery. He also claims that the NAAA failed to ensure that the discus circle was at the requisite standard of safety and that they failed to inspect the circle prior to his accident.

Wilson also claims, among other things, that the NAAA failed to use a certified IAAF official to inspect the circle.

As a result, he wants the NAAA to pay for or facilitate his rehabilitation, cover his lost wages. He is also seeking compensation for the loss of opportunity to compete professionally and possibly attracting sponsors.

Noted sports attorney Dr Emir Crowne is warning regional professional cricketers to be wary of dubious establishments seeking to represent them.

Lawyers representing the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) are proceeding to initiate legal action against noted attorney Dr Emir Crowne after the latter refused to apologize for alleged defamatory comments he made about the commission in  August this year.

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