"If we win in the court, we lose and if we lose in the courts, we lose."
This is the position taken by Mike Awai, a former Business Development Officer at AC Port-of-Spain, towards the current situation where football's world governing body - FIFA, and the United T&T Football Association (TTFA) are locked in a battle for the right to manage the affairs of T&T football.
The United TTFA, which is headed by William Wallace, who was elected president on November 24, 2019, was just about four months in office when FIFA removed him and his three vice presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warwick and Joseph Sam Phillip on March 17 and appointed a Normalisation Committee to manage the sport ten days later. FIFA's decision follows an audit visit in February which revealed a series of administrative flaws that showed the sport was on the verge of insolvency and illiquidity.
The FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee comprises businessman Robert Hadad as its chairman, attorney Judy Daniel as his deputy and former banker Nigel Romano.
On Wednesday, Awai told Guardian Media Sports that there was never going to be any mediation between the parties as FIFA had already made that clear in a letter dated March 27, as it responded to an earlier request for mediation by Wallace.
In that letter, FIFA said: "While we understand that as the newly elected president you disagree with the FIFA Council Bureau’s decision to appoint a Normalisation Committee in the TTFA, let me highlight that FIFA is competent to replace Executive bodies of member associations by a normalisation committee for a specific period under exceptional circumstances (Art. 8.2 FIFA Statutes). Furthermore, FIFA can act based on its own assessment and in collaboration with the relevant confederation, consider the situation as exceptional enough to justify an application of this provision."
On July 7, media reports indicated that FIFA had expressed a willingness to mediate with the United TTFA, however, less than 24 hours later, in a surprise move, FIFA issed a release that stated it was no longer going to mediate based on the failure of the lawyers of the TTFA team to keep matters confidential.
"This mediation will not go ahead now in any event, owing to the failure of the lawyers of "United TTFA" to keep the matter confidential, in line with their professional and ethical obligations," FIFA said on Tuesday.
Awai said, "It's Wallace and Keith Look Loy who messed up the whole thing by talking too much to the media.
"If the TTFA wins, we are back to square one because we're still owing the $50 million and two, FIFA would either withhold or withdraw the funding for T&T. If the TTFA wins, we lose and if the TTFA loses, we lose."
On June 18, in response to the United TTFA filing the matter in the T&T High court after withdrawing from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in May, FIFA stated that: “The removal of the Normalisation Committee before appropriate controls, policies, and procedures are in place at the TTFA will not only jeopardise the achievements to date and reintroduce the threats to the solvency of the TTFA but it will be a disincentive to FIFA to provide any further funding to the TTFA given the absence of appropriate controls."
Awai jokingly said if that happens, "then Tobago will play Trinidad, north will play south, and east will play west". He believes it's only the delegates that can save T&T football now, noting that the delegates can call for a special general meeting to vote out Wallace and his team of vice presidents Taylor, Phillip and Joseph-Warrick.
The TTFA first challenged the FIFA through CAS in April but decided to take its fight to the High Court because of perceived bias by CAS. The High Court matter will be heard on July 29.