CAS defends independence amid TTFA allegations of bias

CAS defends independence amid TTFA allegations of bias

Saturday, June 06, 2020

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LUASANNE, Switzerland (CMC) —The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has chastised the ousted executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for accusing it of bias in the battle against the sport's world governing body, insisting that it is “independent and impartial from all parties”.

In correspondence confirming the termination of the action that the William Wallace-led United TTFA had filed against Fifa, deputy president of CAS's appeal division Dr Elisabeth Steiner defended the Switzerland-based court, saying its independence “has already been confirmed by several national and international tribunals”.

“Any statement to the contrary, such as the ones which have been published in some media, is totally unacceptable,” she stated.

Wallace – who led the TTFA before Fifa removed the executive and installed a normalisation committee in mid-March because of mounting and potentially crippling debt – and his three vice-presidents had filed an appeal against Fifa's takeover with CAS in April.

However, complaining that they were not likely to get a fair hearing, given some of the decisions CAS had taken in the early stages of the case, they withdrew the case last month and turned to the High Court in Trinidad and Tobago to deal with the matter instead.

The former executive, through their attorneys, had written to CAS pointing out some “irregularities” that demonstrated the court's bias towards Fifa. They complained that the TTFA was asked to pay all the fees for the arbitration – in contravention of the court's regulations which require that the parties split the cost, which Fifa refused to do – and that the court had accepted Fifa's request for the case to be heard by three arbitrators which tripled the cost of the proceedings.

CAS's head of arbitration Antonio De Queseda had responded to those concerns, rejecting the alleged irregularities. He indicated that CAS had decided to use a three-member arbitration panel instead of a single arbitrator as requested by the TTFA attorneys because of the legal complexity and sensitivity of the case, and stated that the association's lawyers did not provide a single reason to justify their request.

In the correspondence sent on Monday, Steiner indicated that TTFA would not have to pay anything more than the 1,000 Swiss Francs (1 US$ = 1.04 CHF) it had deposited to register its appeal.

“Consideration that the present order is rendered without costs, except for the court office fee of CHF 1,000, which was paid by the appellants and which is retained by the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” she explained.

“The appeal filed by the appellants shall be deemed withdrawn and the procedure CAS 2020/A/6915 Trinidad and Tobago Football Association et al Fifa shall consequently be terminated and deleted from the CAS roll.”

In its case filed in the High Court last week, the former TTFA executive is asking for: a declaration that Fifa's removal of the TTFA executive, which was elected to office on November 24, 2019, is null, void, and of no legal and/or binding effect; a permanent injunction preventing Fifa from interfering in, and/or seeking to override the fair and transparent democratic processes of the TTFA and/or attempting to remove the duly elected executive from office; and a permanent injunction preventing Fifa and/or its agents and/or assigns and/or servants from interfering in the day-to-day management of the TTFA, including the association's bank accounts and real property.

Fifa has officially informed the High Court it will defend itself against the legal challenge.
The TTFA stands to be suspended as a result of taking Fifa to the local courts, as Article 64 of the Fifa statutes prohibits member associations from taking internal disputes, or disputes affecting leagues, members of leagues, clubs, members of clubs, players, officials, and other association officials to ordinary courts of law.

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