The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) kept a still tongue today in the face of reports that FIFA has stopped funding the local sporting body due to its role in the misappropriation of aid funds meant for earthquake-ravaged, Haiti.
On Sunday, the UK Times revealed that $4.76 million (US$750,000) was wired to ex-FIFA Vice President and then TTFF Special Advisor Jack Warner to disburse to the Federation of Haiti Football (FHF). However, only $381,000 (US$60,000) got to the impoverished Caribbean island while $4.4 million (US$690,000) remains unaccounted for.
Wired868 confirmed that FIFA sent $1.6 million (US$250,000) for Warner to a TTFF account and had subsequently stopped funding to the beleaguered association due to its inability to account for the money.
The UK Times revealed that the remaining $3.2 million (US$500,000) was donated by South Korean businessman and politician, Chung Mong-Joon, on behalf of South Korea—the Asian nation was bidding to host the 2022 World Cup at the time.
TTFF representatives confirmed the stories, on Sunday, but requested time to formulate an official response.
Twenty four hours later, no response was forthcoming and calls to the TTFF Press Office went unanswered.
A TTFF insider said the football body feared an interrogation from the “mainstream media”, in response to the Wired868 article, and compiled documents on Sunday to mount a defence against charges of dishonesty.
However, the failure of all three daily newspapers to follow up on the story, which has garnered international attention, allowed the TTFF an opportunity to put its head down in the hope that it would blow over. Warner also did not respond to questions from Wired868.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that Warner asked FIFA to send the emergency relief aid to a TTFF Local Organising Committee (LOC) that he controlled. This was done in January 2010.
But the FHF was repeatedly frustrated in its attempts to access the bulk of the money and complained to FIFA after Warner’s resignation in June 2011—the Work Minister’s abrupt departure from the global body came in the midst of investigations into a bribery scandal that implicated the Trinidadian.
FIFA contacted the TTFF for details on the Haitian aid money last October.
“The TTFF informed FIFA that it never had access to the money,” said the TTFF insider, “and that it went straight into an account that was controlled by Mr Warner…
“But FIFA’s position was that it is a TTFF account; so the TTFF is ultimately responsible.”
FIFA gives every member association an annual subvention of $1.6 million (US$250,000) but has not paid the TTFF this year.
“As Fifa has not received any satisfactory response (on the Haitian relief funds),” the FIFA Press Office told Wired868, “Fifa has stopped, with immediate effect, any payments to the TTFF until it will receive proper accounts of these funds.”
FIFA is also monitoring the TTFF’s mounting legal difficulties.
On 8 February 2012, a court-appointed marshall and a team of policemen, instructed by 13 members of the 2006 World Cup team, swooped down on the TTFF headquarters and seized all removable assets as the first step in satisfying a $4.6 million (US$724,000) debt that the organisation failed to serve in October 2011.
“FIFA asked to be kept abreast of the developments,” said the source, “and the TTFF has made a report… FIFA was given an assurance that the Under-17 girls and Under-23 men’s team will play in their respective competitions in accordance with FIFA rules.”
Sport Minister Anil Roberts vowed to bankroll the TTFF’s participation in both competitions with State funds.
The 13 players, the TTFF and its former President Oliver Camps return to the Port of Spain High Court tomorrow morning.