The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) bid farewell to another controversial figure this morning as general secretary Richard Groden submitted his resignation to president Raymond Tim Kee. His resignation is effective starting tomorrow.
However, Wired868 was informed by well-placed sources that Groden’s departure was at Tim Kee’s urging and the relationship between the two men was lukewarm at best since the latter figure became the TTFF president last November.
Groden suggested, via a press release, that a looming financial settlement between the TTFF and the 2006 World Cup players—which was agreed in principle late last month—allows him to leave on a high note.
“During the 15 years I served the Federation, I have seen many highpoints and some low points,” he told the TTFF media. “There were indeed great moments. Now that the matter regarding the players being paid from the 2006 World Cup campaign is resolved, I think it is opportune for me to exit and allow Mr. Tim Kee to appoint a new General Secretary of his choice.”
Groden’s role in helping settle the long-standing World Cup bonus dispute is debatable.
The administrator, who barely spoke to the press during his 15-year term, once branded the “Soca Warriors” as mercenaries. And his signature was attached to the press release that banned 15 players from representing their country for close to a year and effectively ended the international careers of goalkeeper Kelvin Jack and defender Brent Sancho.
Groden, along with ex-president Oliver Camps, was also a director of the LOC 2006 Germany Limited, which is yet to account for approximately $180 million in World Cup revenue. The LOC was chaired by former TTFF special advisor and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
Groden ostensibly instructed the TTFF’s legal team too as it used a series of stalling tactics to frustrate the Warriors that bordered on contempt of court while steadfastly refusing to file suit against Warner.
His behaviour in both instances was said to raise concerns as to whether he demonstrated loyalty and fiduciary responsibility to the TTFF. Tim Kee, according to sources, was unconvinced.
However, Groden did alter his legacy somewhat in the final 18-months after a surprising fall-out with Warner in the wake of the 2011 Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal.
The general secretary swore an affidavit to FIFA, which claimed that Warner collected a bribe from the Qatari administrator at his Ministry of Works office. Groden, who was facing a FIFA suspension at the time, also alleged that Warner and Camps urged him to lie to investigators about the bribe.
Groden’s affidavit was published exclusively by Wired868 and relayed to the local Integrity Commission through the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute.
Warner was also incensed with Groden and then interim TTFF president Lennox Watson when the pair was felt to be slow in supporting his friend, Harold Taylor’s, ultimately unsuccessful bid to replace him as Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president last year.
In a letter to Sport Minister Anil Roberts, which was also published on Wired868, Warner singled out Groden, Watson and All Sport Promotions director Anthony Harford as obstructionists and urged Roberts starve the local football body of funding.
The relationship between the TTFF and the Sport Ministry has been strained ever since.
Tim Kee’s ascension to the top job always spelt trouble for Groden.
Privately, Tim Kee was said to blame the general secretary for trying to sabotage his election campaign with rumours that he was Warner’s choice. The new TTFF president has always strenuously denied that suggestion.
The last straw was said to come at last month’s CONCACAF Congress, which Groden attended against Tim Kee’s wishes.
Two weeks later, Groden fell on his sword.
“One does not have to hold office to contribute and I will continue to assist where and when needed in Trinidad and Tobago football,” he said. “The new General Secretary can call on my experience at any time.”
Groden’s departure is the latest in a series of major changes in local football over the last two years.