It is a bitter-sweet moment for T&T football where support seems to be split unequally in two. Now, however, the sport’s membership will have the opportunity to make things right, if this saying can be a reality at this point in time.
Justice Carol Gobin’s ruling to accept T&T Football Association president William Wallace and his team of Joseph Sam Phillip, Susan Joseph-Warrick, and Clynt Taylor as the legitimate administrators of T&T football instead of the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee has been embraced by some as a triumph in certain quarters, but being seen as detrimental in others.
Following Tuesday night’s ruling, T&T’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, referencing a Greek lesson from his alma mater Bishop High School many years ago, said, “Another such victory and we shall be utterly ruined,” Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, 2000 years ago.
He noted: “Thank God I was taught some Greek History and Latin at Bishop High School. Otherwise, I would have never been able to understand that adventure. I think we all now need to study the 2000-year events of the Pyrrhic wars to figure out how it all might end. The success that comes at such a high price and at other people’s expense sometimes results in the price of the “victory” proving too costly to have been worth it.”
Clearly disappointed by the ruling of the court, the Prime Minister ended by saying: “So now United TTFA has “won” and FIFA has lost. The matter is settled in the local court. We are now free of the “colonial” FIFA. We, boys and girls, men and women, are free to play by ourselves and against ourselves because nobody will be allowed to play with or against us. Oh. That’s it! I finally understand it. That means we can never lose and will always win because we will only be playing by ourselves.”
The Prime Minister was not standing alone with his discourse and was joined by Brent Sancho, the acting T&T Pro League chairman who will be among the deciding members, and Jameson Rigues, a vice president at the T&T Super League Board.
On Wednesday, Guardian Media Sports made several attempts to contact Wallace yesterday but were unsuccessful.
However, both Rigues and Sancho are hoping for Justice Gobin’s ruling to be overturned when the Court of Appeal adjudicates on the matter on Monday. FIFA agreed to appeal a ruling by Gobin for the local court to be the jurisdiction to settle the case but later refused to file a defence. According to both administrators, while they understand the reasons for such a ruling, an overturning of it by the Appellate judges will put T&T in a better position to negotiate with the FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, who, on September 24, suspended the TTFA for a violation of their Statutes.
An opportunity for sympathy by the FIFA is expected to come soon, following Wallace’s decision to allow the membership to decide on the way forward for the sport, once his group gets favour from Gobin.
Rigues said: “The membership can write to the FIFA seeking clarity on what is needed for the country to be spared extended suspension or even expected expulsion. This situation is hurting the country and if Wallace and his team are serious about giving the membership the opportunity to make the decision, then an opportunity exists for us to seek sympathy,” Rigues explained.
TTFA’s suspension came with conditions that re-entry into the FIFA fold would require dropping a court battle in the High Court and bringing its (TTFA) Constitution in line with FIFA’s.
On September 22 at Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) called by Wallace and the United TTFA, the membership voted (21 For, 8 Against and 3 Abstentions) to withdraw the matter from the courts but the United TTFA missed FIFA’s September 23 deadline which resulted in T&T being suspended on September 24 until further notice.
However, TTFA constitutional expert Osmond Downer, Wallace and his lawyer Matthew Gayle said they are unsure of what the FIFA is requesting since the TTFA’s constitution had been updated in 2015, and was approved by FIFA.
It is being speculated that this change in the TTFA Statutes hinges on amending the Act of Parliament which is responsible for the incorporation of the TTFA.
Downer said for this to be a reality, Wallace will first have to summon his Board of Directors to a meeting and the Board will call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). Though Sancho questioned if the Wallace-led administration would allow the membership to make such a decision, he believes it would be an opportunity for the membership to lobby the Government for any necessary changes, a call that was supported by Rigues.
“I believe FIFA will change its position based on the fact that a ruling has been made against them, now they may want to be more severe against the TTFA. But there is the opportunity to sympathise if the membership writes to them. There is also a need to get that ruling out of the court,” Sancho explained.