KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA has suspended Trinidad & Tobago FA even though the embattled local TTFA appeared poised to halt its High Court action opposing the controversial imposition of a normalisation committee.

A statement from the world governing body said the action had been ordered by the bureau – president Gianni Infantino and heads of the six regional confederations – because TTFA bosses took their resistance to the local High Court in defiance of the infamous Statute 59.

This prohibits football bodies from taking disputes to the civil courts.

In the circumstances FIFA’s action appeared both hasty and punitive as well as expanding the complications arising out of the original, financial, issue.

Only on Tuesday the TTFA had appeared to be on the brink of conceding defeat in defying the normalisation order.

The association and world federation had been at loggerheads since March after the latter dissolved the executive of the cash-strapped association and sought to impose a temporary administration.

TTFA president William Wallace tried to take the fight to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and, after considering that route too costly, approached the local High Court.

A judge issued a stay pending a substantive hearing but FIFA responded by warning that such a breach of statutes would lead to the suspension of Trinidad & Tobago from membership and thus international competition.

The financial consequences were reckoned as too onerous by a TTFA members’ meeting which voted 21-8 with three abstentions to advise a withdrawal of legal action.

Too late, it appears.

FIFA statement:

The Bureau of the FIFA Council today suspended the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) with immediate effect due to grave violations of the FIFA Statutes.

The suspension was prompted by the former leadership of the TTFA lodging a claim before a local court in Trinidad and Tobago in order to contest the decision of the FIFA Council to appoint a normalisation committee for the TTFA. This course of action was in direct breach of article 59 of the FIFA Statutes, which expressly prohibits recourse to ordinary courts unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations.

A normalisation committee was installed by the FIFA Council after it was established that the former leadership of the TTFA had engaged in various acts of serious mismanagement. The decision of the former leadership to go to a local court to contest the appointment of the normalisation committee jeopardizes not only the future of football in Trinidad and Tobago but also endangers the overall global football governance structure, which relies on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as the exclusive forum for resolving disputes of this nature. 

The relevant parties were initially given until 16 September to withdraw the case but failed to do so. This deadline was then extended until 23 September, which was not respected either. 

In the circumstances, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided to suspend the TTFA.

This suspension will only be lifted when the TTFA fully complies with its obligations as a member of FIFA, including recognising the legitimacy of the appointed normalisation committee and bringing its own statutes into line with the FIFA Statutes.