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Native Spirit set to reveal costs for “I Support Akeem”

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips said that he expects to receive a full breakdown of costs from Native Spirit for the production of “I Support Akeem” tee-shirts by Monday.

Both organisations came in for criticism on the social media since Wired868 and I95.5 FM revealed, on Thursday night, that just $25 from every $100 shirt purchase would go to assist 22-year-old footballer Akeem Adams, who is fighting for his life in Hungary after suffering a massive heart attack in late September.

Photo: A Ferencvarosi player (left) and coach lead a tribute to fallen teammate Akeem Adams after the club's 4-1 triumph away to Diosgyor today. (Courtesy Fradi.hu)
Photo: A Ferencvarosi player (left) and coach lead a tribute to fallen teammate Akeem Adams after the club’s 4-1 triumph away to Diosgyor today.
(Courtesy Fradi.hu)

However, Phillips sought to assure the public that the TTFA did not pocket a cent from the sale of tee-shirts.

“The cost to produce the shirt is what we are waiting on now,” Phillips told Wired868. “If it turns out that cost is not bonafide and more could have been sent Akeem’s way, that is something Native Spirit will have to answer to.

“But it is important to reserve judgment until we see those figures.”

He insisted that the local football body operated throughout with Adams’ best interests at heart.

“We did what we could to contribute and help the player,” said Phillips. “That is something that should be recognised and we should be getting some credit for. To hear people calling into question our motives is definitely unfortunate.”

“All the funds went directly to Native Spirit and at the end of the day all we got was a cheque for $50,000… We are not in the tee-shirt business; this was a Native Spirit initiative…

“People may see that as making excuses but that is the reality.”

Thus far, there is no suggestion of illegal behaviour from the TTFA or Native Spirit.

Photo: Young footballers from the Anthony Sherwood Coaching Academy pose with their "I Support Akeem" tee-shirts.
Photo: Young footballers from the Anthony Sherwood Coaching Academy pose with their “I Support Akeem” tee-shirts.

Crucially, it was the TTFA and not Native Spirit who told the public that all proceeds would go to the Ferencvarosi defender and former two-time Trinidad and Tobago World Youth Cup player, Adams.

This turned out to be untrue although the TTFA is yet to make an unqualified apology for its misinformation.

Phillips preferred to focus on Native Spirit’s role in the controversy.

He told Wired868 that Native Spirit managing director Bruce Kaufman offered the TTFA a cost breakdown when production started early last month, which was accepted by the football body. Among those expenses, according to the general secretary, were unspecified administrative costs.

He admitted that the TTFA only requested more details after the Wired868 report on Friday.

“As soon as the story broke, I called them and said we really need a very detailed cost breakdown,” said Phillips. “We asked them to include VAT and we will see if we can get a VAT refund. If we do, every penny from that will go to the fund as well.”

Kaufman, who spoke to Wired868 on Friday, could not be reached for comment today.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Ferencvarosi defender Akeem Adams (right) needs a heart transplant after suffering a massive heart attack in September.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Ferencvarosi defender Akeem Adams (right) needs a heart transplant after suffering a massive heart attack in September.

Phillips was non-committal when asked if the TTFA should have insisted on a complete cost breakdown before it committed to the project.

“We were in the middle of ramping up for the (New Zealand) game and we felt we would address the issue after the match and analyse it in more detail then,” said Phillips. “Hindsight is 20/20… When we initially discussed the idea, no one knew how many shirts would be printed up and how much the costs were going to be. And we had the added strain of getting a game on within 10 days.

“If we had a bit more time to plan, I think things would have been done differently. But this is the context of the environment in which we were working (at the time).”

He reiterated, though, that any suggestion of dishonesty was unfair and urged members of the public to reserve judgment until Native Spirit provided a cost breakdown.

“If it turns out that the cost breakdown doesn’t stand up with the figures that they showed us before, that is something they will have to answer to,” said Phillips. “We are not in the tee-shirt business. This was a Native Spirit initiative…

“People may see that as making excuses but that is the reality… It is very, very important to convey that there is no sort of skullduggery in our approach.

“No one is trying to make a buck off Akeem; that would be unconscionable.”

Photo: TTFA president and new Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee (far right) poses with the World Cup trophy on Thursday alongside general secretary Sheldon Phillips (second from right) and former 2006 World Cup captain Dwight Yorke (third from right). (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president and new Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee (far right) poses with the World Cup trophy on Thursday alongside general secretary Sheldon Phillips (second from right) and former 2006 World Cup captain Dwight Yorke (third from right).
(Courtesy Wired868)

The TTFA raised $72,230 for Adams with $50,000 from the “I Support Akeem” tee-shirts and $22,230 from the “Akeem Adams section” for Trinidad and Tobago’s international friendly against New Zealand on October 15.

However, Native Spirit claimed to sell 2,000 shirts, which meant that it collected $200,000 from well-wishers; while the TTFA said that 446 persons purchased tickets for the “Akeem Adams section”, which suggested total revenue of $55,750. It means that Adams will receive $72,300 from $255,750 raised in his name by the TTFA and Native Spirit.

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, who is set to be unveiled as the new Port of Spain mayor, referred to the $72,300 figure as “a substantial contribution” last Thursday.

But, yesterday, “Soca Warriors” manager David Muhammad referred to the sum as “disrespectful to the Adams family.”

“It is a shame that so much public love, concern, support and best wishes poured out from the public in the form of the sales of maybe 1000s of T-shirts at $100 each,” stated Muhammad, on his Facebook page, “and all that could have been given to the family was under TT$73,000. It is also disrespectful to the Adams family for so much money to be raised in their son’s name and for capitalist greed to take priority over sincere generosity…

“If I had known that only $25 per jersey was going to Akeem I would have never bought as many T-shirts as I did.”

Photo: SWO member and Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 cheque to Dion Sosa, the local manager for Akeem Adams on Friday evening. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)
Photo: SWO member and Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 cheque to Dion Sosa, the local manager for Akeem Adams on Friday evening.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)

Thus far, the player’s family has received an unspecified donation from his former school, Presentation College (San Fernando) while, on Friday, the Soca Warriors Online football fans’ site handed over a $12,000 cheque for the “Soca Warrior” to Adams’ local manager, Dion Sosa.

Local Pro League team DIRECTV W Connection also offered its Digicel Charity Shield winnings of $10,000 to Adams although the Pro League has not yet transferred the money.

Well-wishers who want to donate money directly to the player can do so by walking into any RBC branch and depositing money for Ancilla Dick at account number #100085172658914.

 

Editor’s Note: The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has advised that it did receive a full financial breakdown from Native Spirit with regards to the “I Support Akeem” venture and the football body will make a statement shortly.

AboutLasana 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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3 comments

  1. Why does this sound like the TTFF or TTFA of old….They enter into something, but don’t know quantity, cost price, selling price, who the money going too, as long as they get a “lil cheque ” from it…COME ON GUYS !!! We not going through that again !!! Even Ms Cook parlour have better accounting than this !!! steups…#Igiveup #liburdgiveme internationalfootballcoverage

  2. Administrative costs? And we talking about assisting a young footballer here? So what is Native Spirit contributing? Their name? Then the TTFF could have gone to any other tee shirt company and do the shirts. Maybe I need to advertise myself? So it costs to do the artwork and the print. Administrative costs to place the order, to sell the tees? Give me a break please. These corporate people just want to make a buck. I look forward to see the costs and maybe to eat my words.

  3. Let’s see how Native Spirit will spin themselves out of this. You can’t tell me it cost $75 to make a tshirt which means there’s only a $25 profit per item. If that was so then how can stores survive only on tshirt sales? If so how the hell is Native Spirit still in business as they sell tshirts? I’m waiting to hear what “administrative costs” Native Spirit is talking about. So Native Spirit if you’re reading this we’re waiting to hear where the money gone.