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TTFA opens Sancho/Harrison probe; Ex-minister quizzed on dodgy deals

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) yesterday gave former Sport Minister Brent Sancho and his former employee Kevin Harrison a seven-day deadline to respond to questions over: his conduct with regards to the transfers of Central FC forward Rundell Winchester, the signing of then 16-year-old winger Levi Garcia, and the alleged misappropriation of CONCACAF funds and non-payment of bonuses to Central players.

Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC chairman Brent Sancho. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC chairman Brent Sancho.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The letter, which was signed by TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips, is a direct response to Wired868’s exclusive articles about the diversion of CONCACAF funds meant for Central FC into Sancho’s personal bank account and a request for a personal payment in relation to Winchester’s transfer to Belgium club, CS Visé, which was to be split between Sancho and Central operations director Kevin Harrison.

In both cases, the financial requests were made by Harrison, who was also employed as an Advisor to the Sport Minister.

CONCACAF confirmed to Wired868 that Harrison instructed the football confederation to wire US$40,000 to Sancho’s bank account, four months after he was appointed Sport Minister and had left his post as Central chairman.

“As a member of CONCACAF and in keeping with our regulatory obligations and responsibilities,” stated the TTFA letter, “the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is requesting a written statement from your good self or your appointed representative addressing the following allegations for the purpose of providing you a forum to clarify and inform the TTFA in determining whether further action is warranted…”

Photo: Ex-Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) pays a visit to Bourg Mulatresse. (Courtesy SPORTT Company)
Photo: Ex-Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) pays a visit to Bourg Mulatresse.
(Courtesy SPORTT Company)

Sancho and Harrison were both asked to “describe the purpose for the ‘personal payment’ as stated” in the latter’s email to British football agent Steve Davies on 27 August 2014. The duo were also asked to explain why CONCACAF money meant for the club was sent to Sancho’s personal account.

Thus far, Sancho and Harrison, through Davies, claimed they were referring to hotel and airfare when they enquired about a personal payment that they wanted wired to them through Western Union rather than to Central’s bank account.

Harrison claimed that CONCACAF was given Sancho’s bank details before he became minister. But the football confederation denied this.

The TTFA widened its probe to also include Central’s hiring of then 16-year-old Shiva Boys Hindu College student Levi Garcia, who was signed to a professional deal without proper representation by his parents or an assigned guardian.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) bamboozles the Curaçao defence during a 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup fixture. Garcia has agreed terms with Eredivisie club, AZ Alkmaar, and will sign a professional contract on his 18th birthday in October 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) bamboozles the Curaçao defence during a 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup fixture.
Garcia has agreed terms with Eredivisie club, AZ Alkmaar, and will sign a professional contract on his 18th birthday in October 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

And Sancho and Harrison are also being probed on claims by Central players that they were not paid promised bonuses connected to their successful 2014/15 Pro League season and CONCACAF Champions League qualification.

Ironically, Sancho and Harrison were founding members of the now defunct Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT). Sancho was also at the forefront of the 2006 World Cup players’ bonus battle with the TTFA and its former special advisor, Jack Warner.

Harrison was once a voluntary member of Britain’s Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

Both men have expressed their desire to return to football administration at Central, in the wake of the United National Congress’ defeat at the polls on September 7.

Harrison was at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Friday when the “Couva Sharks” edged DIRECTV W Connection 1-0 in the Digicel Charity Shield and he walked on to the field to congratulate the team after the final whistle.

Photo: Central FC players celebrate lifting the 2015 Digicel Charity Shield title after a 1-0 win over rivals W Connection last night. (Courtesy DPI Photography/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC players celebrate lifting the 2015 Digicel Charity Shield title after a 1-0 win over rivals W Connection last night.
(Courtesy DPI Photography/Wired868)

However, even if Central’s directors do want them back—which is not necessarily the case—the TTFA has quoted Section 64 of the constitution with regards to its power over both men.

If found guilty of improper conduct, Sancho and Harrison can face a variety of disciplinary measures, which range from warnings to being banned from entering any football stadium and taking part in football-related activities.

Like Uruguay star striker Luis Suarez, who was fined for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup, Sancho and Harrison could appeal any TTFA disciplinary action to the relevant FIFA committee and, ultimately, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The ultimate sanction, if applied, would be a remarkable fall from grace for Sancho and Harrison who, just over a week ago, were responsible for overseeing every stadium in the country and advising on the disbursement of State funds to the TTFA.

Photo: Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) has a word with her then Sport Minister Brent Sancho during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia on August 26. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) has a word with her then Sport Minister Brent Sancho during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia on August 26.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

TTFA’s letter to Sancho and Harrison:

As a member of CONCACAF and in keeping with our regulatory obligations and responsibilities, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is requesting a written statement from your good self or your appointed representative addressing the following allegations for the purpose of providing you a forum to clarify and inform the TTFA in determining whether further action is warranted:

1. Personal Payment Requests Made In Conjunction With Player Transfer Transactions 

Please address the allegations; specifically the email transmission dated August 27, 2014 from Mr Kevin Harrison to Mr Steve Davies, that made reference to the aforementioned personal payment request.

Please describe the purpose for the “personal payment” as stated in the aforementioned email.

Photo: Central FC goal scorer Jean-Luc Rochford (front) and his teammates celebrate with the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship trophy. Looking on is then Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (top left). (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC goal scorer Jean-Luc Rochford (front) and his teammates celebrate with the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship trophy.
Looking on is then Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (top left).
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

2. Allegations of Non payment of Player Bonuses
Complaints have been fielded by the TTFA from Central FC players surrounding alleged withholding of promised bonus earnings connected to the 2014/15 Pro League Season and CONCACAF Champions League Tournament.

Kindly describe whether the complaints have merit.

3. Alleged Misappropriation of CONCACAF Funds

CONCACAF, in an official statement, has rebuffed any claim of administration error on their part regarding a deposit of $40,000 in your personal bank account that was allegedly directed by Mr Kevin Harrison.

Would you please explain whether you were aware the CONCACAF funds were deposited to your personal account and the reason(s) for directing the funds to your personal account?

4. Reported Improper Contracting Of A Minor

Central FC acquired the rights of Mr Levi Garcia as a member of Central FC through the execution of a player agreement at a time when Mr Garcia was below the age of consent.

Please explain how Mr Garcia competently executed his contract.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media in 2013. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media in 2013.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Your cooperation in addressing the above items will greatly enhance our ability to provide the proper level of due process. In the event these issues are borne from misunderstanding or misrepresentation of rules, we believe your response can greatly assist in establishing such a finding.

To increase our ability to bring these matters to a quick resolution we ask for your response to the above inquiries no later than Friday September 18, 2015. Thank you.

Sheldon Phillips, General Secretary TTFA

cc: Raymond Tim Kee, President—Trinidad and Tobago Football Association

Dexter Skeene, CEO—TT Pro League

Ted Howard, Acting General Secretary—CONCACAF

Marco Leal, Director of Legal Affairs—CONCACAF

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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57 comments

  1. And he is offering his services to the new minister!!!! Imagine that! This boy should take his bow tie and get in a corner!

  2. You have to have No Scruples to be aligned to the UNC ent?

  3. He look for that. Now cum in politics and he learned well from them. Stupid. Smh

  4. Birds of a feather flock together he new where he wanted to belong to the corrupt party

  5. Lasana can the parents of the minor sue them or should FIFA be the one to investigate this?

    • There was no harm done to either the parents or minor, at law the only remedy would be to nullify the contract and put Levi as he were before the contract. It’s a violation of Article 19 of FIFA’s Regulations on the Transfer and Status of Players.

  6. Sancho calling it a witch hunt. Sanko, call it what it is. This is a BITCH hunt lol

  7. Is the theft n the thuggery that upsets me

  8. Nerisha Mohammed, you can post the Sancho response in the Express here. But really it doesn’t make much sense posting link as it is behind paywall.
    So you might as well just say what he said. 😉

  9. Four months after you enter office you learn well

  10. well he look fuh dat!! he too chupid orrr should it be greedy, hmm

  11. Lol. I knew you were a man of your word ?

  12. Oh Gosh Kevin Harrison why yuh had to buss that file eh, ah was hoping that the corrupted sports minister corrupted UNC win the election again eh, then to ask him for a borrow to buy the boots eh now you will make Mr. Live Wire expose me eh, but doh hut up your head I am a man of my word eh so my players will still get their boots in a timing eh

  13. Lol! Allyuh really good yes…lmao!

  14. Earl Mango Pierre Central F.C players are still waiting for the boots you promised them when they won the league 5 months ago. Them really good yes.

  15. And it seems that it was always true with respect to what the Central FC players was offered by word of mouth when they won and then it was a different story at the end. Them really good yes

  16. Dais why he so smart uncle Earl? He know how to dodge the bullets

  17. Poor fellas they didn’t know that meh uncle Tim Kee is an old police that use to love locking up dem con artists and dem ent Gordon Pierre. Them really good yes

  18. Like you Lasana, I am so disappointed in him, so the responses better be backed up with hard evidence for me too. I know the business world is full of wheeling and dealing and football is no different because at one time or the other, people are friends then turn big adversaries.

  19. He should be held responsible he of all persons should have known better

  20. I believe it was sent to the media Savitri Maharaj. Maybe it will hit the newspapers by Monday… Wired868 is often a day or two early. 😉
    I agree Ivor Thomas. It is sad and a little heartbreaking. Sancho was at the forefront of two uprisings against the TTFF/TTFA for better conditions and pushed for the footballers’ association.
    His fall could make a lot of people more cynical about human nature.

  21. Lasana but how could Sancho after all the tribulation he faced for World Cup bonus find himself in this position!!!

  22. Vernal Damion Cadogan, I think this matter falls under the Integrity Committee. I’m not sure who would investigate the bit about their hiring of a minor under the conditions stated.

  23. Great standard set by TTFA!!! Hope it betters the $400,000. [2014 Argentina tour] which went missing between 2/3 ‘hand picked’ individuals.

  24. This football world is a whole different world in itself….top to bottom and sideways too. Let’s wait to see their response now…btw, did TTFA make the letter to them public?

  25. Ok…I couldn’t remember who…and I’m trying to put 2 and 2 together re other stories….thanks

  26. Savitri Maharaj, Rhondor Dowlatt did a story for the Guardian that breezily dismissed everything about Concacaf funds landing in the minister’s account and essentially said “nothing to see here.”

  27. Agreed! This needs to go beyond the TTFA as their own financial dealings need to be scrutinized as well.

  28. How hilarious that ttfa asking questions of people when they couldn’t answer any themselves. Oh well, let the phallic measurement continue…

  29. Lasagna what would it take for a criminal probe to be commenced into the possible fraud regarding FIFA funds being directed into Sancho’s personal foreign bank account as opposed to Central FC’s or even the TTFA’s?

    I don’t trust the TTFA handling this internally!

  30. The man get a corbeau sweat and already have his name jumping up? Sad…

  31. Good to see ttfa doing this God know when oliver camps was president we would never see this. ……right?

  32. I feel I know what sanction will be imposed now…

  33. Who wrote that story again Lasana?

  34. Nice work breaking and pursuing this story until the investigation was launched. 🙂

  35. I still have my contract from central fc still waiting for the rest of my payment for the 13/14 season it’s the most stories I’ve ever gotten in my life! From both men!

  36. Lasana Liburd the guardian sports section had become the pp sports ministers mouth pieces check how many of them collect ministry
    that will reveal some very interesting news!! uncle Earl Mango Pierre look trouble now

  37. This seems to be the end of the line for these two. If not all at least 1 of these very serious charges must stick

  38. too bad they don’t investigate all the other madness that went on…but i guess this is a start

  39. Funny enough Savitri Maharaj, when I wrote about CONCACAF’s funds ending in Sancho’s bank account. The Guardian countered with a story headlined “Storm in a Teacup” and never returned to the subject once.
    They certainly seem very selective in what stories they chase and what they consider to be newsworthy or “much ado about nothing.”

  40. Scotty Ranking

    Look at ting!
    Now it’s the TTFA that has Sancho ducking for cover! Tables turning, sah, round and round!