An exuberant press officer is being blamed for a few jangled nerves between the Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup players and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) as the long-standing bonus dispute presumably enters its last lap.
Yesterday, the TTFF, via press officer Shaun Fuentes, issued a release which claimed that “the court order was fully executed” and promised to reveal further details at a press conference on Friday.
“We are quite pleased today to announce that we have reached an agreement and that the court order was fully executed,” stated TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee, in the release. “This is a major hurdle that has been crossed.”
However, World Cup defender Brent Sancho insisted that the hurdle has not been crossed yet.
Sancho, the managing director of local Pro League club Central FC, told Wired868 that both parties agreed a deal, which was ratified by High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad. But, crucially, the “Soca Warriors” have not received any money yet.
The TTFF release was broadcast in the local media and Sancho’s phone rang constantly ever since with World Cup teammates asking why they were not personally informed and where their money was while reporters requested interviews and well-wishers offered congratulations.
“As far as we know, the deal is not over yet,” Sancho told Wired868. “There is an agreement in place but there are still one or two things left to be done. The TTFF and the players agreed beforehand that no public statements would be made until everything was sorted out, so I can’t understand why they made that release.
“I think they jumped the gun by setting up a press conference and so on.”
Tim Kee disagreed.
The most important thing, he said, is that a legal agreement was reached and validated by the High Court and a financial transfer was started. Although the players have not been paid, he insisted that the court order was executed.
New TTFF general secretary Sheldon Phillips, who replaced Richard Groden last week, explained the release was done based on the Tomlin order, which was signed by Rampersad to stay the case. But neither Phillips nor Tim Kee took responsibility for the wording of the TTFF release.
“(Fuentes) was a bit over-exuberant,” said Phillips. “We were surprised at the details of the release… But we will chalk that up as a bit of over-exuberance after a seven-year battle that everyone is relieved to see come to an end. We will sort it out internally.”
Former World Cup goalkeeper and ESPN analyst Shaka Hislop, who was quoted in the release, confirmed that the Warriors had not received the agreed settlement figure and the players’ lawyers still have some paperwork to do when the wire transfer is completed. But he expects the matter to be finished soon.
“We were assured that the transfer was made but, as of 9 am this morning, our lawyer was not in receipt of the funds,” said Hislop. “I thought we would have it by now but I am just going to assume that it was one of the anomalies of the banking system.”
Wired868 understands that the money was only wired from the TTFF to the World Cup players this afternoon. However, the TTFF insisted that any concern over the timing of its release is a non-issue.
“If the players have a problem with the timing (of the release) then so be it,” said Fuentes. “In a few hours, it will be completed anyway and this would be a non-issue… The bottom line is once those players get the money into their account by latest this evening or (tomorrow) morning, I will be satisfied.”
Tim Kee, despite denying that he authorised the contents of the release, echoed Fuentes’ sentiments and insisted that the court order was executed.
“It is not premature to say the matter has been settled because (it) has been settled in the court,” said Tim Kee.
Sancho was more cautious.
“A deal is finished when both sides have gotten what they are supposed to get,” he said.
Both parties hope that the disagreement will be a quickly forgotten hiccup in a few hours once the players receive notification from the relevant bank.