Sport Minister Anil Roberts has allegedly again failed to keep his promise to Trinidad and Tobago football.
Roberts told Parliament, on 5 October 2012, that the Sport Ministry would bankroll the Trinidad and Tobago national senior team’s preliminary Caribbean Cup qualifying round in St Kitts and Nevis, which was held earlier this month.
Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed repeated the vow to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) executive.
However, Wired868 was informed that not only did the Sport Ministry give the TTFF an “unusable cheque” on Tuesday 23 October 2012, which was written in the name of senior team manager William Wallace. But the value of the cheque was just $47,026—roughly one tenth of the team’s initial budget of $423,218, which included airfare, accommodation, per diems, match fees and other expenses.
Roberts’ alleged valuation of the Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Cup campaign thus far—exclusive of airfare—is just short of the Sport Ministry’s contribution to an ongoing Queen’s Park Cricket Club (QPCC) eight-a-side football tournament.
A QPCC source claimed that the private member’s club was given $50,000 for the small goal competition, which is not open to members of the public.
Roberts, who lost his “Parkites” status after failing to keep up with subscriptions almost two decades ago, would not normally be able to play either. However, a resolution by the QPCC executive, last year, allows the Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister to receive honorary membership along with the country’s Prime Minister.
And the Sport Minister, according to the QPCC source, has used his membership to participate in the tournament.
Roberts has seemingly been less motivated to help Trinidad and Tobago’s international football teams as several men’s and women’s outfits have been left short-changed since National Security Minister Jack Warner asked Roberts to starve the TTFF of funding in a letter on 20 April 2012.
Following Warner’s letter, the Sport Ministry paid airfare for two teams, a hotel bill and a late penalty but snubbed the bulk of funding requests while no payments were made through the TTFF.
Roberts, who repeatedly accused the TTFF of dishonesty in recent weeks, appeared to continue his snub of the local football body last week by writing a cheque in Wallace’s name.
The TTFF, according to a source, returned the cheque on Friday 26 October with a note which suggested that the Sport Ministry had made an error since Wallace is not authorised to handle the organisation’s finances.
However, Wired868 understands that the sum offered by the Sport Ministry has also worried the football body.
The TTFF, according to an insider, tried to slash its budget as much as possible to ease the Sport Ministry’s financial responsibility.
The football body did not include its technical staff’s match fees—which it will try to raise money to pay on its own—while stipends for the assistant coaches were halved, the team stayed at a cheaper hotel in St Kitts and its pre-tour camp was cut to just one day.
The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) arranges accommodation for 25 squad members during the tournament but the TTFF had to pay for two additional staff members. More than half the squad had to stay five extra days on the island due to travel disturbances caused by Tropical Storm Rafael and All Sport Promotion offered a guarantee so the Warriors were not forced to sleep at the airport.
The TTFF sent the Sport Ministry a request for $278,989.52 to cover its expenses.
But Roberts and Creed seemed to feel that $47,206 was enough to cover 17 days of international duty by 20 young men and seven technical staff members inclusive of meals, accommodation, match fees, per diems, laundry and medical equipment.
The Ministry of Sport is yet to respond to Wired868’s calls or emailed requests for information regarding why the cheque was written in the name of the senior team manager and for significantly less than initially agreed upon.
The Trinidad and Tobago senior international team returns to action next month as hosts of a four-team Caribbean Cup group that includes Cuba, Suriname and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The top two teams advance to the December 2012 Caribbean Cup finals in Antigua and Barbuda.
Editor’s Note: What do you think about the friction between the Sport Ministry and the TTFF? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.