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December 2020
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Fifa, “Guilty As Charged.” This MUST be the turning point for Fifa and CAS

by Tony Attwood

As you may well know (at least if you have been paying attention) Untold has a certain interest in the evil doings of Fifa not to mention the work of the arch-demon Mr Infantino (currently engaged in legal proceedings in Switzerland, along with the now disgraced head of the legal system for the whole country).  So when our eagle eyed Untold reader “Seismic” spotted the article “Fifa Guilty as Charged” in Josimar – an independent magazine and website covering Norwegian and international football, we started reading.

And unlike the numerous articles we’ve run about the court cases in Switzerland, this one, which we originally missed on our radar, has reached a conclusion.  A conclusion in which Justice Carol Gobin said, “Fifa’s claim that it remains neutral in matters of politics (within the sport) is demonstrated to be patently false.”

We have touched on the battle between Fifa and the FA of Trinidad and Tobago a couple of times, but clearly Josimar has been able to do it in far more depth than we have, which is why you should turn to their work to pick up on the details.  The article Fifa bullying backfires is a superb analysis of that long running case and I heartily recommend it to you.

I’ll just give a quick summary, in order to pick up on the background, because I think there could be further ramifications all round.

Fifa suspended the Trinidad and Tobago association (TTFA) after it took a dispute through the country’s High Court.  Fifa rules say that football matters must only be dealt with by football bodies like Fifa, and not in the courts of the country.  (This obviously gives Fifa a problem as Infantino prepares to be pulled before the Swiss courts, but we will leave that for later).

So when TTFA did go to court, Fifa dissolved the Trinidad and Tobago association and put in its place a “normalisation committee” because, they said, TTFA had engaged in acts of mismanagement.

OK we might pause for a moment to consider Fifa saying that a football association had “engaged in various acts of serious mismanagement”, (and indeed to stop laughing at the irony of that) given that that is what Infantino himself is accused of in the Swiss courts.  But let’s calm down and move on.

Fifa said that TTFA would continue to be suspended until it brought its own rules into line with Fifa rules and recognised Fifa as the Supreme Being in all matters football.  TTFA then went to court in its own country to get a ruling against Fifa – and it being a home match for TTFA it was expected they might win.

Which they did.  But what has got everyone so excited (except of course the UK media which utterly refuses to touch anything that seems to criticise Fifa, just as it cravenly refuses ever to criticise PGMO) is what the judge then said.

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As reported by Josimar, the judge said Fifa had made “a mockery of the proceedings” and that the installation of a “normalisation” group to take over football in Trinidad and Tobago was unreasonable.

The argument was that Fifa had allowed what one might call erratic financial mismanagement to continue under its watch, and Fifa audits did nothing to sort out the issue.  Thus the claim that Fifa helped TTFA gets its accounts in order and hold new elections was less than credible.

In short the judge concluded, that the “normalisation order” was “a contrivance to subvert the outcome of the [TTFA] November 24th elections… Fifa’s claim that it remains neutral in matters of politics (within the sport) is demonstrated to be patently false”.

The Trinidad and Tobago FA admitted that it had not proceeded properly but was putting its house in order.  Fifa, they argued, was punishing the association because as part of its take over of the association Fifa had put in power David John-Williams, whom Josimar calls “a key ally of Gianni Infantino in the region”.

But the judge was not finished for as Josimar continues, “Throughout the proceedings Fifa has… demonstrated a disregard for the rule of law”.

Now Fifa find itself in a bind.  Fifa regards the courts of its individual members to be below itself – it is the Supreme Ruler of All Matters Football.  As such it would not dirty its hands by defending itself in a trial in Trinidad and Tobago, because Fifa, as the supreme entity, is not subject to the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.

Certainly the FA of Trinidad and Tobago have shown far more strength of character than the English FA which has endlessly bowed down in craven tribute to Fifa – even when it became aware that the last world cup for which the FA bid (using as we alone have noted many time, taxpayers money), was fixed.

(There is also the issue of the next world cup being held in stadia built by slave labour, and our hope that “Black Lives Matter” might take up that issue, but that movement seems curiously silent on the subject, so we’ll leave that for a moment).

Supported by newspaper journalists whose prime interest is getting tickets so they can go and watch football matches for free and stay in splendid hotels at sponsors’ expense, no criticism of Fifa will ever reach the eyes and ears of those interested in the sport in England.

But now they might have to, because as Josimar is pointing out, “TTFA v. FIFA” is being seen as a test case.  And it is happening just as Fifa itself is on trial in Switzerland.

The question has always been, is it reasonable for a self-appointed sports body to be above the laws of the land of the country in which it holds court?

For if Fifa is the first and last arbiter of all decisions, all the associations within Fifa bow down to its rules.  This is what we see in England, and because the FA is funded by the state, we, the taxpayers, end up keeping this autocratic dictatorship in power and can’t stop the FA handing over vast amounts of our money to Fifa.

Now as Josimar points out, it has been shown in a high court that even Fifa’s dictatorship has a limit to its powers – it cannot override primary legislation in the country of one of its members.  Thus finally it is established that (in the case of England) the FA is subject to the laws of England primarily, not to the laws of Fifa.  That should always have been obvious (given that the FA is funded by grants from government, which itself is funded by the taxpayer).  Now it has been set out.

The FA has been shown to be subject to British law – as when the Charity Commissioners slaughtered it over the FA’s abject failure to keep proper records of the money it claimed it was giving away as a result of the “Charity Shield”.  It’s response was simply to avoid the issue by renaming the competition to “Community Shield”.  Repeated requests from Untold Arsenal to the FA asking for detail of where the money from that competition went to, remained unanswered.

Fifa was shown to be subject to Swiss law in 2015 (you might recall our article from 22 January of that year to which I have alluded in the past: Switzerland take a greater interest in Fifa – at last)

As we reported there was at that point a “change to the law in Switzerland, which allows the authorities to scrutinise bank accounts held by sporting governing bodies and their leaders.”  What I got wrong was that I predicted that Fifa would follow the IOC which had immediately moved its 2017 vote on Olympic venues to Peru.  Fifa thought it was above everything, carried on in Switzerland, and the arrests followed.

But what now?  Fifa clearly can claim that all disputes go through Fifa.  But it’s leader is being charged with corruption in a Swiss court.  And as Trinidad and Tobago has shown, if the FA of a country is instituted within the law of that country, then that football association is subject to the law of country, NOT the law of Fifa.  Meanwhile the cases in Switzerland are showing that Fifa officials are subject to the law of Switzerland, not the law of Fifa.

But now here’s a wonderful thought which Josimar has come up with.  If this is the case then the Court of Arbitration for Sport is “not the only legitimate recourse for a member of Fifa which was involved in a dispute with the governing body.”  Nor indeed for members of Uefa.  Something which might interest Manchester City.

Because again as Josimar says, “To say otherwise would be to accept that Fifa could overrule an Act of Parliament; and to accept that would be to surrender national sovereignty.”  Because that course of action means that Fifa is a law unto itself, and the Swiss courts are currently very busy showing that this is not the case, and will not be allowed to be the case.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the turning point.

Chaos in Europe, silence in England

8 comments to Fifa, “Guilty As Charged.” This MUST be the turning point for Fifa and CAS

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I have no doubt that FIFA is corrupt…just as I have no doubt that there are many countries without an independent judiciary. Sunshine is still the best disinfectant…thanks for this, Tony

  • jahman

    Tony,

    (There is also the issue of the next world cup being held in stadia built by slave labour, and our hope that “Black Lives Matter” might take up that issue, but that movement seems curiously silent on the subject, so we’ll leave that for a moment).

    Is that comment really necessary?

  • Absolutely it is necessary which is why I have written about it so often and in so much detail. If I didn’t think it necessary I wouldn’t mention it. While the organisations that fight against modern slavery have been outspoken of their condemnation of the building of the world cup venues in Qatar using slave labour, football has been very quiet about it which is why I try to remind people about it every time I get a chance.

  • Laos Gooner

    Lets hope as you say this is a turning point, could we possibly see football being the fans game again? I agree with your question about the lives of the slave labourers and it can not be stated enough with the deadline edging closer. Clearly the lives lost in building the stadia matter greatly and this would be a perfect time to draw attention to the issue. I can not help but wonder how ethical FIFA has been regarding those lives.

  • doc

    The Government of Trinidad and Tobago seems ready to bow to FIFA’s demand, and appear ready to re-jig the “Act of Parliament” to FIFA’s satisfaction. Stay tuned,

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sweet ! It is always heartwarming when the puny David punches the eye of Goliath . Weather it is fatal or not is not the point . It gives hope all the little ‘us’ , that once in a while’ the mighty are fallen in battle ‘ , and also gives us that justice seemed to be done.

    May FIFA unravel totally !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Maybe we should renamed the Qatar WC stadium deaths protest movement to avoid any miscommunications . And seeing that it seem,s to grate a lot of people !

    Why not call it ‘BROWN LIVES MATTER TOO !’ ; as most of the foreign workers who died( I believe)were from India,Pakistan,Bangladesh,Sri Lanka and other neighboring countries .

    Unless of course , you feel they don’t matter .

  • RicSAAlao

    Thanks for this article. It is kudos to the TT football people and the court and judges. Hope more countries find courage to dictate the tunes where they are paying the pipers, either by tied hands or subtle blackmails.
    In my part of the world in Africa, the legal status of the country football body is not clear cut. There is currently a renaming of the body from Association to Federation. As Association, you ought to be registered, as legal person and be subject to CAC and local regulations, courts processes, but that was never intended, and that was Fifa grand design and agenda, which has been going on probably since Fifa inception.
    With that arrangement, football is being frustrated from development on level play grounds, no investment aside taxpayer’s money.

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