FIFA has distanced itself from the legal battle between the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and 13 members of the 2006 World Cup squad and, in a letter dated 6 February 2013, instead advised the respective parties to seek out the relevant bodies for adjudication.
The World Cup 2006 players, who spent the last seven years at loggerheads with the TTFF over promised bonuses, threatened, in December, to initiate liquidation proceedings against the local football body within six weeks, after the latter party reneged on a High Court-ordered interim payment of $4.6 million on 18 October 2011.
The “Soca Warriors” urged FIFA president Sepp Blatter, via a letter in December 2012, not to accept any “phoenix organisation” that might take the TTFF’s place and attempt to run the local game. The players also asked Blatter whether FIFA might consider making a payment on behalf of the TTFF and deducting the money from the football body in the future.
FIFA did not directly address either request and instead described the legal battle as an “internal matter.” Its response was dispatched six weeks after the players’ threat of liquidation, which has not yet materialised.
“After a thorough examination of the apparent circumstances… the alleged situation seems to relate to an internal matter of the TTFF which does not come under the remit of the FIFA authorities,” stated FIFA, in a letter signed by Director of Legal Affairs Marco Villiger and Head of Corporate Legal Oliver Jaberg. “Consequently, please be informed that FIFA has no competence to intervene in this matter.”
FIFA has threatened suspension, in the past, to football associations that became embroiled in court action. But the world governing body seemed happy to let the courts decide in this matter, which heavily involves its disgraced former vice president and National Security Minister Jack Warner.
“The above-mentioned issue must be tackled in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations at national level, reason for which we kindly invite you to refer to the competent bodies,” stated FIFA. “Finally, we draw your attention to the fact that this information is only of a general nature and, therefore, without prejudice to any decision that any competent body may be called to pass in this or similar matters in the future.”
Thirty-six-year-old World Cup 2006 goalkeeper Kelvin Jack, who spent last season with non-league Kettering Town after spells in the Scottish Premiership and England’s League One, suggested that FIFA’s response was a green light for their proposed liquidation application.
“We are fairly happy because we now know Fifa will be fair on both sides,” Jack told Wired868. “It’s full steam ahead to wind them up.”
It is debatable whether FIFA’s stance will advance the Warriors’ push for unpaid bonuses in the short term.
Last month, new TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee described visits to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and CONCACAF president Jeff Webb as encouraging as he sought to raise money to clear the local body’s debts.
“I am cautiously optimistic about getting the money from them,” Tim Kee told Wired868, after his trip.
Might the Warriors’ stance, one way or the other, have affected the likelihood of FIFA extending credit to the TTFF?
Tim Kee could not be reached for comment last night on any possible shift in attitude by FIFA or CONCACAF towards his plea for the cash that might give the TTFF a fresh start.
What appears clear is that FIFA will not attempt to pay the Warriors directly. While the players are less than impressed with Tim Kee’s output thus far.
“It is clear that although there has been a change of Presidents, the attitude of the TTFF towards the players has remained brazen and belligerent,” the Warriors told Blatter. “We recently wrote to Mr Tim Kee requesting his support in ending this case and also requesting that he locate the millions of pounds owed to the TTFF which disappeared during the time when Jack Warner was describing himself as the federation’s ‘special advisor’…
“Mr Tim Kee has responded but offered little in terms of finding a solution. The Federation does not seem at the least concerned to investigate what happened to the financial bounty that accrued in 2006 as a result of qualification for the World Cup finals.”
In a previous interview with Wired868, Tim Kee did not seem particularly nervous about the players’ threat of liquidation and insisted that he was doing everything possible to reach a settlement.
“The TTFF has nothing to liquidate,” he said.
There is doubt too regarding the effect a liquidation order might have on the present national football program and the country’s participation in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Michael Townley, the players’ London-based attorney, suggested that their legal manoeuvre would be more focused on the administrative arm of the local game.
The liquidator could be empowered to go after the TTFF’s assets, which might lead to legal action against the 2006 LOC Germany group that listed its directors as Warner, his son Daryll Warner, former secretary Patricia Modeste, ex-TTFF president Oliver Camps and current general secretary Richard Groden.
Thus far, the TTFF has refused to take legal action against Warner over his refusal to produce outstanding accounting documents in relation to World Cup 2006 income.
As a result, even in 2013, the Soca Warriors still have no idea what they are owed for their historic appearance in Germany.