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No USSF loan: TTFA accepted just US$12,500 for US victory tour games

Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips agreed to send the “Women Soca Warriors” to play two matches against the 2015 FIFA World Cup champions for less than the cost of airfare, according to documents leaked to Wired868.

Photo: United States record goal scorer Abby Wambach (centre) tries to sniff out an opportunity while Trinidad and Tobago defender Victoria Swift (right) keeps watch during international friendly action in San Antonio on Friday December 11. (Copyright AFP 2015/Chris Covatta)
Photo: United States record goal scorer Abby Wambach (centre) tries to sniff out an opportunity while Trinidad and Tobago defender Victoria Swift (right) keeps watch during international friendly action in San Antonio on Friday December 11.
(Copyright AFP 2015/Chris Covatta)

The TTFA has remained in perilous financial straits despite a host of high profile engagements for its football teams like last year’s friendly international against Argentina in Buenos Aires. And match contracts have remained private and even kept from the executive committee.

However, Wired868 received documentation which suggested that, on 23 September 2015, the TTFA—then headed by president Raymond Tim Kee and Phillips—agreed to send the Women Warriors to participate in the “Victory Tour” for the 2015 World Cup for less than the cost of airfare.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) arranged games against Trinidad and Tobago in Honolulu and San Antonio and stood to pocket millions from two well attended fixtures, television rights from ESPN as well as other revenue streams including merchandising opportunities.

And, in return, the USSF, which is headed by FIFA vice-president Sunil Gulati, offered to meet only the cost for accommodation and inland transport for the Women Warriors as well as US$12,500 to go towards Trinidad and Tobago’s airfare.

Worse, after close to three months, there was no record that the USSF paid the US$12,500, as there was no sign of the money at the TTFA’s headquarters.

Photo: United States striker Alex Morgan (right) goes for goal while Trinidad and Tobago defender Lauryn Hutchinson looks on during international friendly action in San Antonio on Thursday December 10. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: United States striker Alex Morgan (right) goes for goal while Trinidad and Tobago defender Lauryn Hutchinson looks on during international friendly action in San Antonio on Thursday December 10.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

New TTFA president David John-Williams allegedly discovered that the sum was missing soon after he was voted into office on November 29 and contacted Gulati for answers.

Gulati, according to information leaked to Wired868, claimed that the USSF wired the money to the TTFA on Tuesday December 8. And, the following day, John-Williams allegedly asked Gulati to send US$10,000 directly to national team manager Sharon O’Brien, which would be then disbursed to the players as stipends.

Some of the money was also supposedly sent to the Trinidad and Tobago women’s players in Brazil.

That USSF payment soothed the disgruntled Women Warriors, who were considering boycotting the match up to Wednesday evening. It was erroneously described as a loan to the TTFA by ESPN analyst and ex-United States international star, Julie Foudy, during commentary of the US/T&T fixture, which the hosts won 6-0.

Wired868 failed to reach Williams for comment. However, Phillips confirmed the figure.

“(US)$12,500 was set aside for either a travel subsidy or match fees at US$500 per player and staff,” said Phillips, via a text message. “Since (Sport Ministry) usually pays for team travel, US Soccer would cut cheque to TTFA.”

Photo: Ex-Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and his estranged general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Ex-Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and his estranged general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Wired868 asked Phillips: whether he considered the figure to be a good deal for the TTFA, why the Sport Ministry’s possible payment for air travel was a consideration in a contract by the USSF and whether or not the US body had been asked to pay the US$12,500 before December and, if not, then why?

“Those are questions for Ray (Tim Kee),” Phillips replied. “As you pointed out, by October 20, I was no longer with the FA.”

Phillips was fired, four weeks after the USSF deal, for an unrelated matter. The former TTFA general secretary has previously boasted about sharing a cordial relationship with Gulati, who was listed as a reference on his CV when he was hired by the local football body.

However, Phillips insisted that he got the football body a good deal and blamed Tim Kee for failing to take advantage of it by selling on the supposedly available television rights locally.

“The FA secured TV rights to show the match in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Phillips. “After Raymond’s action against me, it is clear the opportunity was not pursued. There was more than enough time to put together a tv deal between October 20 and December 6.”

Photo: United States Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati (centre) hugs national women players Abby Wambach (left) and Christie Rampone after their 2015 World Cup final win over Japan. (Copyright AFP 2015/Kevin C Cox)
Photo: United States Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati (centre) hugs national women players Abby Wambach (left) and Christie Rampone after their 2015 World Cup final win over Japan.
(Copyright AFP 2015/Kevin C Cox)

Wired868 also asked Gulati, via email: “Can you confirm that the USSF offered only US$12,500 plus hotel and inland transport for the T&T women’s football team? Do you think that figure is a fair offer to Trinidad and Tobago considering the television rights and attendance at the game?”

Gulati replied: “Someone from our communications department will be back to you on this matter.”

Up to the time of publication, the USSF Communications Department had not responded.

Phillips, who previously ran his own match agency, Element Agency + Events, raised eyebrows regarding his role in facilitating games for Trinidad and Tobago’s football teams when the Warriors played Argentina on 4 June 2014.

The TTFA claimed the deal was done through an international match agent, World Eleven, but London-based Argentinean journalist Marcela Mora y Araujo—whose freelance employers include the UK Guardian and the US-based Sport Illustrated—claimed the match was arranged between the two football bodies.

“I was told by World Eleven that the game was not organised by them,” said Mora y Araujo, who was in Buenos Aires at the time, “but rather by the AFA directly.”

Photo: Argentina captain and superstar Lionel Messi (centre) dribbles between Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (far left), Andre Boucaud (far right) and Carlyle Mitchell during an international friendly in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014. Argentina won 3-0. (Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)
Photo: Argentina captain and superstar Lionel Messi (centre) dribbles between Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (far left), Andre Boucaud (far right) and Carlyle Mitchell during an international friendly in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014.
Argentina won 3-0.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)

Wired868 also asked Phillips why he used his Element Agency email account to handle details related to that match, rather than his TTFA account.

“I have a glitch in my email where sometimes emails that go out go out with my Element address,” said Phillips, at the time. “I’ve tried to fix it and even disabled the address but emails still go out. I have to get that fixed.

“Element has never been a part of anything since I got involved in the TTFA.”

At present, Phillips is negotiating a settlement with the TTFA after he claimed to have a contract extension as general secretary that runs until 2017.

Former TTFA vice-president Rudolph Thomas insisted that the former executive committee never saw or approved Phillips’ extension.

Eight members of the Trinidad and Tobago team that faced the United States left San Antonio early this morning to join their colleagues in Brazil for the Natal Female International Tournament.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Victoria Swift (right) tries to close down a United States player during international friendly action on Thursday December 10. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Victoria Swift (right) tries to close down a United States player during international friendly action on Thursday December 10.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Stand-in captain Arin King, Khadidra Debesette, Janine Francois, Ahkeela Mollon, Mariah Shade, Patrice Superville, Victoria Swift and Karyn Forbes are all expected to represent the Women Warriors in Brazil.

However, Lauryn Hutchinson, Janice Johnson, Kimika Forbes and Brianna Ryce have all opted out for various reasons while Saundra Baron, Amira Walcott, Liana Hinds, Danielle Blair, Nia Walcott, Tasha St Louis and Kennya Cordner already either ruled themselves out or were overlooked for the trip.

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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31 comments

  1. I hoping TTFA get things right soon, is too much heartache for the fans .

  2. Someone that can check facts

    The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) arranged games against Trinidad and Tobago in Honolulu and San Antonio and stood to pocket millions from two sold out stadia

    Neither of those games were anywhere close to being sold out. There were less than 25,000 tickets sold, for stadiums that combined to seat 115,000.

    • Lasana Liburd

      I was not there and we were told via the wires that the Hawaii game was a sell-out. But I will adjust that to a safer attendance figure.

      • The wires don’t know what they’re talking about.

        Media in Hawaii stated that only 16,000 tickets were sold prior to the game being cancelled with Aloha Stadium capacity at over 50,000.

  3. 12 grand for international game wth, TTFA is sprangers oh what

  4. I don’t even know what to say after reading all these stories today. The stupidity both of the previous administration and how stupid they must think we the Public are to believe that so little money was on offer! You are correct though Lasana as they say the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was to convince people he did not exist! Sports on the whole needs a rethink in Trinidad, athletes and administrators.

  5. The hard part about this whole thing is that the players are suffering. A big ‘revenge game’ if you will and all u negotiated for was hotel and airfare?? Not even a return match in the HCS?? Now both of these fine examples of the human specimen leave and DJW now has a mountain to climb barely a week into his tenure. #greatjob #butnotreally

  6. Waka Waka for Africa…Waka, wako for Trinidad & Tobago .dis time (again) we wako ya…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRpeEdMmmQ0

  7. Yo Lasana Liburd I’m increasingly finding it hard to keep up with all these breaking stories you doing – please slow down…

  8. So many have given, and continue to give, their blood, sweat and tears to the national team, only to fill the coffers of corrupted officials. When will it end? When will the players receive their just reward for the service they provide?

  9. In my years of covering football, I realised that sometimes corrupt tendencies wear the camouflage of incompetence. Just as a general rule and not specific to this matter.

  10. ..Post script: The bull shit of RTK and SP makes the corrupted old ExCo led by dinosaur Watson look like innocents. And THAT ain’t easy to do. Call the FBI!..

  11. ..Post script: The bull shit of RTK and SP makes the corrupted old ExCo led by dinosaur Watson look like innocents. And THAT ain’t easy to do…

  12. We on jokes yes! Real jokes. We seem to be immature when it comes to negotiation! $12,500 US is what we agreed to for an event that’s forecasted to make tens of millions of dollars. We are on real jokes, yes. I cannot believe this man negotiates a deal that puts TTFA deeper in debt and further affects negatively the relationship of our players with management. If we continue to fail to see one of the major reasons our players do not perform exceptionally well, then we deserve what we get.

  13. ..Maybe the FBI should investigate this?..

  14. To add Sebastian Mckay why in heavens name are these players still traveling to Brazil? ALL players need to stand together along with the coach and boycott.

  15. Absolutely, unequivocally ridiculous. Ray and Phillips shouldn’t have been allowed for this long and ESPN should’ve verified that nonsense before spewing it to a worldwide tv audience.

  16. It makes me remember that debate about fiducial responsibility that has Blatter and Platini in a bind. Of course a big issue is that Tim Kee and Phillips operated al the time without approval by the executive or without even sharing what they were doing with the executive.
    That is a recipe for disaster.

  17. Then is ah good thing he not there no more. Let me see… the Govt paid the way there, we get money for hotels and accommodations and allegedly 12k for the players to share…. if that’s a good deal… a good deal for who? For the person that set up the game?

    • Bakes

      Brent I surprised to see you too feeding into this. Do you think the TTFA is in any position to negotiate shared revenue from gates or TV with the US? In any negotiations, the respective bargaining strengths of the parties would dictate who comes out with the better deal. Criticize Phillips yes, but only if you know that better could have been done. The option would have been to what? Turn down the invitation?

  18. Well, the former TTFA general secretary said he considered it to be a good deal. So will wait to hear what others think.

  19. Bakes

    “At present, Phillips is negotiating a settlement with the TTFA after he claimed to have a contract extension as general secretary that runs until 2017.

    Former TTFA vice-president Rudolph Thomas insisted that the former executive committee never saw or approved Phillips’ extension.”

    Do you have proof where Phillips claims he was given an “extension” on his original four-year contract with the TTFA? Still waiting on that one.

  20. Yuh mean we get suckered into getting our brains beat? No… not the TTFA