In the current worrying dispute between the elected body of the T&T Football Association (TTFA), better known as United TTFA, and FIFA, a new twist threatens to plunge our football into unfathomable depths.
While the sudden firing of the democratically elected board deserved some degree of outrage, many people within football could accept this decision as a means to an end.
United TTFA then decided to challenge this FIFA decision by taking the dispute to the Court of Arbitration (CAS) in Switzerland. Winning such a case would have placed the already shaky relationship between FIFA and TTFA into the matrimonial category of irrevocable differences. Any assistance from FIFA in managing TTFA's debts would have fallen on deaf ears. But at least we could see that justice prevailed.
But this latest decision by United TTFA and its legal team is completely incomprehensible.
Firstly, T&T courts have no jurisdiction over FIFA. Secondly, FIFA statutes forbid member associations to address matters through local courts and members agree to address all such matters to CAS. The penalty for non-compliance with these rules is a suspension.
So what is United TTFA's endgame? If they win in Port-of-Spain and retake their positions in TTFA, what have they achieved? T&T football will be an outcast. United TTFA will be in charge of an empty office, with no income, no staff and a $50 million debt.
My question is: who gave United TTFA the mandate to turn T&T into a football pariah? Did the 49 TTFA board members vote for this? Were they even consulted? Did United TTFA discuss their intentions with the Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe?
I have seen United TTFA members and their supporters talk about the fight for justice. Some have even dared to liken their dispute to those of Uriah Butler, Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks. They talk of fighting the corruption of colonialist bullies.
But in reality, United TTFA has crossed the moral threshold of the fight for justice.
Can it be justice for a handful of middle-aged administrators to take away the opportunities and dreams of talented young footballers unable to play international football for an undetermined number of years? Can it be democratic for these few to take a unilateral decision that will affect all 49 board members without a vote?
I believe in fighting for justice. I was instrumental in the Soca Warriors fight against Jack Warner in the World Cup bonus dispute. At the time it was unthinkable that a bunch of footballers could win against the FIFA vice-president. The players knew that their fight would result in blacklisting from the national team but it was their personal choice just as it would be their personal penalty. Their battle never threatened T&T football.
Where were the members of United TTFA in that fight for justice? Some of them were working with Warner so maybe justice wasn't so important then.
If United TTFA feels justified to take on FIFA in a T&T court, I say they should do it but they should do it as individuals. Let them win their victory and attain the moral high ground but don't bring down T&T football in the process.
SOURCE: T&T Guardian