Trinidad and Tobago Football Association v. FIFA – the validity of the standardization committees and the exclusive competence of the CAS

Friday 23 October 2020 By Despina Mavromati

On October 13, 2020, the High Court of Justice of Trinidad and Tobago (the Supreme Court) rendered its decision (available here[1]) on an application filed by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) against FIFA. They ruled, in essence, that the decision of FIFA to dismiss the board of directors of the TTFA and of appoint a standardization committee[2] to manage its affairs was null and void because it was done in bad faith and “for an abusive and illegal motive. “[3] The High Court ruling emphasized, inter alia, that FIFA’s policy of pressure to try to “force” the TTFA to withdraw its case amounted to a contempt of court. “ The High Court also analyzed, under its national law, the legality of Article 8 (2) of the FIFA Statutes[4]. This provision, which allows FIFA to dismiss the executive bodies of member associations in exceptional circumstances, was deemed illegal.[5]

However, this decision was finally overturned by the Court of Appeal by a judgment of October 23, 2020.[6] In this decision, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the filings of this procedure were “ultra vires”, null and void and without effect, confirming the exclusive competence of the CAS on the basis of article 66 of the Constitution of the TTFA and article 69 of the FIFA Statutes. According to the statements of the former president of the TTFA to the press, the latter would respect the decision and would not challenge the judgment further.[7] In a press release issued on October 24, 2020, TTFA chairman William Wallace and his vice chairmen confirmed their resignation following the legal defeat at the appeals court.[8]

The proceedings have sparked controversy in relations between FIFA and TTFA. Notably, following the TTFA’s complaint to the High Court, FIFA granted the TTFA a deadline to withdraw its complaint, under penalty of suspension from international competitions (which took place in September 2020).

This article takes stock of the case, examining the facts, the decisions and analyzing its potential implications for sports arbitration more generally.

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About the Author

Despina Mavromati

Despina Mavromati

Dr. Despina Mavromati, LL.M., is a lawyer (Bar of Thessaloniki / Vaud Bar Association) practicing in the field of international sports law and arbitration. She is the founder of a Lausanne-based firm (SportLegis Lausanne) and represents athletes, clubs and sports federations in all aspects of arbitration, trials and policy writing.

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