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TTFF contempt case continues; Warriors asked to settle

The 2006 World Cup bonus dispute returns to the Port of Spain High Court from 9.30 am tomorrow, on 17 October 2012, and on Thursday 18 October with Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) general secretary Richard Groden and ex-president Oliver Camps facing contempt charges for their failure to initiate legal action against former special advisor and National Security Minister Jack Warner.

Groden and Camps testified that Warner is the only person who knows the whereabouts of millions in 2006 World Cup income. However, despite the urgings of Justice Devindra Rampersad, Groden refused to file suit against Warner on the grounds that it might open up the TTFF to a counter-suit for money owed to the Chaguanas West MP.

Groden’s stance prompted an application for contempt by the 13 World Cup 2006 players on 3 May 2012.

The contempt charge will be heard by Justice Vashiest Kokaram after Rampersad recused himself following accusations of bias by Groden in June. Rampersad retains the substantive brief between the two parties on the bonus agreement.

The players agreed a deal for 50 percent of all World Cup revenue with Warner in June 2006. However, the TTFF subsequently offered the “Soca Warriors” TT$5,644 each.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s “Soca Warriors” bond during the Germany 2006 World Cup.

The two parties subsequently ended up in court and, thus far, the High Court has awarded interim payments of $7 million and $4.6 million in 2011. The latter figure is yet to be paid.

However, Wired868 understands there is feverish activity behind the scenes as both sides attempt to reach a final financial settlement. The TTFF’s renewed zest to negotiate coincides with the players’ stated intention to go after Warner.

In five years of court proceedings, from the London-based Sport Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) to the local High Court, Warner has never appeared before a judge in relation to this case despite the TTFF’s claims that he banked the money.

On 12 January 2012, Justice Rampersad rejected an application from the “Soca Warriors” to join Warner to the case after the MP’s written commitment to provide the High Court with the necessary accounting information. Warner did not fulfill that promise and the TTFF has so far resisted taking legal action against its former agent.

However, the players’ English attorney Michael Townley believes that they now have enough information to successfully tie Warner to the case, based, in part, on an affidavit sworn by Camps on 6 July 2012.

“If this case runs, then based partly on (Camps’ affidavit) and new accounting evidence, we will make a fresh application to join Warner,” Townley told Wired868. “The Judge said he didn’t have sufficient evidence of collusion (between the TTFF and Warner) before but we think we have that now.”

Camps’ affidavit included excerpts from alleged emails sent on 5 March 2012 between the former TTFF president, Warner’s attorney Om Lalla, Warner and his accountant Kenny Rampersad, which discussed financial aspects of the case. Lalla stopped acting for the local football body on 8 February 2012 after Justice Rampersad expressed concern about a potential conflict of interest with the attorney representing both parties.

Photo: TTFF General Secretary Richard Groden (left) shares a joke with attorney Om Lalla, who is the counsel for MP and ex-FIFA VP Jack Warner.

Townley feels the emails, along with other documents, strengthens their case to join Warner.

The TTFF has been in touch with the players about settling the matter outside of court and there is a feeling that the two parties are closer to a compromise.

Townley was cautious, though.

“The frustration is never knowing whether the TTFF is genuine,” he said, “and whether the motivation is to settle or to stall.”

Phillip Lamont heads a local legal team that will represent the players tomorrow. Attorneys Dave De Peiza and George Hislop complete the players’ legal outfit.

On the other side, Groden and Camps have recently made impressive additions to their legal teams.

Camps will be represented for the first time in the High Court by Seenath Jairam SC, who is also president of the local Law Association.

Groden has flown in Nicholas Stewart QC from England. Stewart, who operates from the same chambers as Warner’s barrister William McCormick QC, also serves as an arbitrator at the SDRP and does legal work for England’s FA.

Groden declined comment on the case and no one could explain how a football body that cannot pay its coaches could afford such legal expense or even a settlement expected to be in the millions of dollars.

“The TTFF is saying it doesn’t have the money,” said one informed source, “but that it has the ability to borrow the money.”

Until that financial benefactor puts the necessary money on the table, Groden and Camps run the risk of being held in contempt.

They will plead their case to Justice Kokaram at the High Court tomorrow and on Thursday morning.

 

Aggrieved Warriors: Stern John, Kenwyne Jones, Cornell Glen, Collin Samuel, Anthony Wolfe, Evans Wise, Aurtis Whitley, Avery John, David Atiba Charles, Brent Sancho, Cyd Gray, Shaka Hislop and Kelvin Jack.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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