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PM pays 2006 World Cup players; independent of the TTFA

The 2006 World Cup players finally received payment for their exploits today, eight years after the fact, by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

This afternoon, in a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Persad-Bissessar stole a march on Sport Minister Anil Roberts, National Security Minister Gary Griffith and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips with a financial gift to the victims of the country’s most vexatious sport case, which gained worldwide attention.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team poses before kick off against England at the 2006 World Cup. (Courtesy 90soccer.com)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team poses before kick off against England at the 2006 World Cup.
(Courtesy 90soccer.com)

In 2006, former FIFA vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) special advisor Jack Warner, who is also a former Minister of Works and National Security in Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet, negotiated a bonus agreement with the country’s World Cup players that was never honoured.

Warner’s refusal to hand over accounting documents to the football body or the High Court meant that, even today, no one knows the true figure generated by the country’s historic appearance at the Germany World Cup.

However, the 13 “Soca Warriors” who took the TTFA to court agreed to settle for US$3 million and, today, Persad-Bissessar instructed Finance Minister Larry Howai to pay the outstanding US$1.3 million (TT$8.3 million) to the players.

“It was a moment that unified us like never before,” said Persad-Bissessar, about the players’ World Cup debut. “They healed every national wounds, bridged every divide…”

Crucially, though, the Prime Minister stressed that the payment was made “without prejudice” to the players’ legal affair with the TTFA.

World Cup 2006 players Brent Sancho, Stern John, Aurtis Whitley, Cornell Glen, Cyd Gray, David Atiba Charles and Anthony Wolfe attended the press conference and Sancho thanked the Prime Minister and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan for their assistance.

“On behalf of those of us who have been fighting a long, tough legal battle to get our just due payment for our efforts at the FIFA World Cup, Germany 2006,” said Sancho, “this moment means more than any of us can describe.” 

Persad-Bissessar left the press conference to head straight for the Piarco International Airport and a flight to Brazil for the World Cup. She told reporters that her trip was a private affair and will not be paid for by taxpayers.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)

“I leave later this afternoon on a private visit to Brazil with my grandson,” she told the Trinidad Express. “I want to assure you that not one cent of Government’s money is being used for this private visit.”

There was no suggestion that Sport Minister Anil Roberts or the present Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) played any direct role in the settlement.

Insiders suggested it might not be coincidental that the Prime Minister’s sudden concern for the players follows close on the heels of a series of damaging exposés in the Trinidad Express about the controversial Life Sport programme, which is linked to death threats for Ministry of Sport permanent secretary Ashwin Creed and Life Sport director Ruth Marchan and at least one murder.

Two years ago, former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kelvin Jack, in a Wired868 column, accused the Prime Minister of twice ignoring letters for assistance in resolving the matter.

“Twelve other 2006 World Cup players and myself are lost for words and disenchanted with the Honourable Prime Minister’s silence,” stated Jack. “I understand that the Prime Minister is a very busy person but, in my opinion, she has no excuse for not acknowledging receipt of our correspondence.

“It is disrespectful, not only to my teammates and I, but also to the citizens of my homeland since taxpayers directly contributed at least $80 million of the TTFF’s 2006 World Cup revenue.

“I am presuming—although I still hope I’m wrong—that the Prime Minister isn’t bothered if a member of her government, Works Minister Jack Warner, is yet to account for over $200 million that my team mates, myself and our beloved fans helped generate when we qualified for the 2006 World Cup.”

Even after Warner’s disgraceful fall from office in 2013, Persad-Bissessar and her government showed no public interest in the players’ case.

Photo: Ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar share a light moment during the 2010 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. (Courtesy FIFA.com)
Photo: Ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar share a light moment during the 2010 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.
(Courtesy FIFA.com)

The players, who were awarded the Chaconia Gold medal winners after Trinidad and Tobago became the smallest nation to qualify for a senior FIFA World Cup, responded by turning up the pressure on the TTFA.

Tim Kee, who was a vice-president throughout the scandal, replaced Oliver Camps at the helm of the TTFA in late 2012. And he, along with Phillips and Jeffrey Webb, Warner’s successor as CONCACAF president, convinced the players that were keen to settle with an opening payment on 20 May 2013.

But the good rapport did not last as the TTFA never completed its second court-ordered payment in September and the Warriors vowed to resume legal action.

Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain mayor, responded by threatening to deny the players their due by starting a fresh organisation; while a Phillips press release said the football body would “continue uninterrupted” despite impending legal action from the Warriors.

The TTFA had already showed no inclination to follow the instructions of the High Court and sue Warner, the former TTFA special advisor, for allegedly misappropriating football money. The football body suggested, via press release, that the matter was statute barred although Phillips later backed away from this position after the players’ British attorney Michael Townley rubbished the claim.

Behind the scenes, Phillips appealed first to the Sport Ministry and then the National Security Ministry to wipe out its estimated $28 million debt, which also includes outstanding payments to former national coach Russell Latapy and ex-technical director Anton Corneal.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Privately, he told the Warriors to expect Cabinet approval for their payment before Carnival 2014. But months passed without any inkling that Griffith would come to their rescue.

Instead, another party allegedly suggested to the Prime Minister, during the first round of the Brazil 2014 World Cup, that it would be a wonderful gesture if the Warriors were paid off before the completion of the tournament and while the nation was seduced by the power of football.

The figure, who is independent of the government and the TTFA but has a sport background, asked to remain anonymous.

Persad-Bissessar supposedly replied that she would give “active consideration” to the players’ settlement. The Attorney General is believed to have played an active role in resolving the matter.

“The Prime Minister is a football fan,” claimed the third-party. “All she needed was to be reminded that it was an unresolved issue… She thought it was a court matter and she could not intervene.”

The suggestion that the Prime Minister was unaware of the status of the bonus dispute flies in the face of widespread and readily available information on the matter; not to mention letters to her office from the players themselves.

However, two other persons close to the negotiations—including a 2006 World Cup player—confirmed that the final settlement with the government was instigated by a party independent of the TTFA.

Today, Persad-Bissessar confirmed that her government had decided to pay the players for their historic achievement.

Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan supports the national team at the Germany 2006 World Cup. (Copyright AFP 2014/Lluis Gene)
Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan supports the national team at the Germany 2006 World Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Lluis Gene)

“On behalf of the Soca Warriors members who stuck it out over the years enduring so many legal battles,” said Sancho, “may I take the time to express my gratitude to the Honourable Prime Minister and her government for this heart warming gesture.

“We recognize that the government has no legal obligation to assist us yet chose to do so through this gesture. All of Trinidad and Tobago can breathe a collective sigh of relief that a moment that brought us all so much happiness and pride is free of any grievance…

“We will all follow the events in Brazil this week with an unfettered spirit and only great memories of the time the Trinidad and Tobago anthem played on the football field in Germany.”

There is still no word, though, on if Warner will ever be asked to account for the missing millions that taxpayers will now foot.

 

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the reactions of the 2006 World Cup players, the TTFA and ex-TTFF special advisor Jack Warner to the government’s pay-off.

And click HERE to read the response from the Soca Warriors’ British attorney Michael Townley and find out why he is uneasy about the settlement.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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56 comments

  1. Wondering about the coaches and the technical staff who also haven’t been paid. Madam PM?

  2. I’m happy for you guys and anyone else who would benefit from “handouts” between now and elections 2015

  3. It is not settled. They are still pursuing their litigation against TTFA. The money Kamla paid was a political strategy for the 2015 elections.

  4. i think she played a timely master stroke there again .but we have to look beyond the surface and see whether she is genuine deceptive or opportunistic It’s up to the people to read the play correctly.Brent said she is not obligated to pay them . why then did she pay out the money ?Guess

  5. I’m stunned, happy, angry, relieved…

  6. Maybe i should hire Low to advise him. But i know he is a Brasilian fan… So me might not listen.

  7. This was a magnificent through ball by the Prime Minister to the Prime Minister and collected by the Prime Minister that led to the scoring of a spectacular goal by……..you guessed it………the Prime Minister!

  8. Kelvin Jack : “I am presuming—although I still hope I’m wrong—that the Prime Minister isn’t bothered if a member of her government, Works Minister Jack Warner, is yet to account for over $200 million that my team mates, myself and our beloved fans helped generate when we qualified for the 2006 World Cup.” Thats it for me.

  9. Oh btw,
    Mr. Liburd ..

    Please do not lie about the facts surrounding the accounts of the LOC..

    Mr Warner never : “failed to hand over” the accounts of the LOC …
    the TTFF : “misplaced the books”

    Court Records and minutes of the TTFF will show that when the LOC was dissolved the “Accountant” (not MR. Warner) Handed over the books to the TTFF .

    Mr. Warner cannot be asked to hand over any books “supposedly in his head” , according to the Imbecilic PNM supporters and retarded footballers who accused him of such ..

    The court order was quite clear ..

    The court ordered the seizure of the property of the TTFF president (at the time) , Oliver Camps to be liquidated and given to the “Soca Warriors” ..

    Please don’t fall to the dishonest practices that are rife in T&T media

    • While I am happy for the Warriors, and hope good sense would prevail with their spending, Jack must be held accountable. Oh yes, the 2015 Election Campaign have started.

  10. Now I’m wondering if this payment on the part of the taxpayer negates the court order Jack refused to comply with and if not what happens next with regards that money?

  11. Government by vaaps. The PP all over the place. Sometimes I feel like I watching Stevie Wonder teaching Ray Charles to drive. Soca Warriors, I not mad at allyuh either. Is long overdue. Hee Haar?

  12. This does not matter
    because :
    Great is the PNM …
    all footballers will vote for their savior the PNM …
    Kamla is the devil …

    If you don’t believe me ask ANY footballer in T&T ..

    Go ahead …
    Ask any footballer

  13. Hmmmmmm. Many questions for and against the timing of this payment. Happy for the footballers Who should have Never been made to go through this.

  14. Here’s what happened eh.
    We have a soosoo and everybody put in their lot, Kamla the banker allowed her friend to steal a portion of that money and then Kamla replaced what was stolen from the pot with money from the pot!

    Then she went Brazil!

  15. Trinidadians surrender their patrimony so easily it’s embarrassing.

  16. Next move Elections Date…. Tunapuna Constituency READY onBOARD !!

  17. This is the reason we need to stop using the term “government money” and begin referring to it as “taxpayer money” or “your money”.

    I’m sorry, but this is no victory, not by a long shot.
    At least not for the taxpayer since their money was stolen.

  18. Buh,Vernal ,every year when they went over budget was teefing the taxpayer too.

  19. Where is the money that the high court ordered Warner to pay them?

  20. Thank you Brian, that is my one gripe with this latest move.
    It facilitates an indirect theft of taxpayer money and no one has the authority to do that in the taxpayers’ name.

  21. Can we pay Brazil to keep her???

  22. Hehehe… Kenneth and Kala my thoughts exactly

  23. Take OUR money and pay for what was stolen by her peeps. Announce that and jump on a plane and take off…. as usual.

  24. Aye Lasana Liburd and Rhoda Bharath #stopit lol

  25. Politicians and footballers never a great combi. No matter where. The big question I think re this, is how she handles the serious question of Jack’s recompensation to the state coffers.

  26. I am wondering if the Ghanian government did not pay their World Cup players last week would she have paid the Soca Warriors anyway!?

  27. Fred the Unafraid,amidst the jeers and scorn,will earn the plaudits of the PM and may be given a million dollars also.

  28. These days, Rowley picking his time like Scolari. One setta fake Hulks who soft like marshmallows and Freds who need to be sent back to Bedrock!

  29. They need a bold centre back to push things forward. Too much activity in the PNM goal.

  30. Hehehehhehehehehehe. Dutch fans wont have you, eh.

  31. They best play some mind games like Van Gaal. Bring on a second rate goalie and pretend he is a penalty specialist or something…

  32. Them aint have no Messidonia to depend on, nah. Pressure.

  33. The lady is hitting her stride. The Opposition better make a sub! Hahaha

  34. sadly they never will………..if they do, I will be completely shocked. Hopefully things are put in place to prevent a repeat of this.

  35. Yes she did, Lasana Liburd… Tim Kee just get sexed by that play from Kamla! And by proxy, so did the PNM.

    • Scotty Ranking

      And therein lies the rub! In one fell swoop, The PP government has appeared to come across as the players’ saviour, rescuing them from a bind that was created by the ILP headstone and then perpetuated by a ranking PNM stalwart. also making Minister “Two Pull ad a Bull” appear most ineffectual in the process. Question though, does the government payment full release the TTFA from liability and what of Jack Warner’s culpability in this drama?

  36. Yes. But I would never be totally satisfied until they go after the misappropriated funds.

  37. We could finally move forward………..I just hope this NEVER happens again

  38. *long, exasperated sigh of relief*

  39. Rhoda Bharath, did the PM just hit the Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer a cross over… Not too long after she ‘blattered’ Rowley?
    Interesting…

  40. More questions –
    Was this expenditure budgeted?
    And is this trip of the PM’s not being funded by the taxpayer in the same way that her cabinet’s Indian excursion not funded by the taxpayer?

  41. Kinda buys some time. But not much in terms of all of the related and unrelated festering issues. Maybe she needs a break. 🙂

  42. Dat is what you journalists have to press her on when she gets back into the mess there. He should pay up!

  43. Does Warner keep his loot?

  44. Did she not say that it was done “Without Prejudice” to the ongoing matter? Nothing was settled today.

  45. I am glad for the soca warriors.

  46. Messi. No matter how you look at it.

  47. This is not a genuine move, it’s just to gain Political Points, elections are next year and to screen their TIEFING. It didn’t work

  48. Nice example to all the other independent bodies.Teef,we go pay.HCU,CLICO.

  49. I’m waiting for CLICO policyholders to kick brass in 3…2…

  50. Wonder where the funds came from, LifeSport? I hope there’s not a price to be paid