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Lies and untruths from the TTFA: Sancho strikes back

Letter from 2006 World Cup defender and Central FC managing director Brent Sancho to Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and copied to general secretary Sheldon Phillips:

For the last 12 months, we have been continually told that TTFA is different from TTFF. You and Mr Phillips have stated that you will never operate in the same manner as (former president) Mr Oliver Camps, (former general secretary) Mr Richard Groden and (former special advisor) Mr Jack Warner.

And I was willing to give the new regime the benefit of the doubt. Yes, I have my personal disagreements with the TTFA over the 2006 World Cup payments; but I have sat back with an open mind and watched you and Mr Phillips try to repair the massive damage done to our game by the TTFF.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips pose with the FIFA World Cup trophy. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips pose with the FIFA World Cup trophy.
(Courtesy Wired868)

But I was astounded by comments made by TTFA media officer, Shaun Fuentes and a “TTFA insider” in Sunday’s Newsday newspaper.

Basically, we, the 2006 Soca Warriors, agreed to settle with TTFA over unpaid bonuses after seven years and two court cases. Note: we agreed to settle.

We agreed to settle for a specific amount offered by TTFA when we could have pursued a larger sum, which two courts agreed was rightfully ours, because we wanted to see football grow and prosper again in Trinidad and Tobago.

The terms of the settlement were simple: A lump sum payment and then several tranches of funds on specific dates.

However, although the initial lump sum payment was received, when the first payment date appeared in September, no funds were available. Nor (was there money to pay us) in October, November, December and now, January.

We never chose those dates, the TTFA did. This isn’t a gentleman’s agreement, it is a legal settlement. It’s like being offered parole and then immediately breaking it. It doesn’t matter how much of a nice guy you are, you broke your word and, therefore, you must face the consequences.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team poses before kick off against England at the 2006 World Cup. (Courtesy 90soccer.com)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team poses before kick off against England at the 2006 World Cup.
(Courtesy 90soccer.com)

Mr Fuentes, whom I assume is voicing the opinions of you and Mr Phillips, says we should be patient. Why? These funds are over seven years overdue. Isn’t that patience enough? And then we still waited for another 3 months (since the last due date).

If I understand your position correctly, Mr Tim Kee, we should wait for however long it takes to receive the money we are legally entitled to. In which case, I suggest that every business owner who pays rates to the Mayor of Port of Spain withholds his or her payments.

It doesn’t matter. There’s no rush is there, Mr Tim Kee, you will be patient. But I’m fairly sure that the voters and taxpayers and your political allies won’t be pleased when Port of Spain goes bust because you haven’t pursued money that is legally owed to you.

It’s childish and ridiculous for you all, as intelligent men, to suggest that we be patient. After the abuse that we suffered from the previous regime of which you, Mr Tim Kee, was a senior member, why should we expect any different (now)?

Especially as Mr Fuentes’ comments reek of the same chicanery used by the TTFF. According to Mr Fuentes, you said that Shaka Hislop has been very sensible on the matter unlike the other players.

So, the TTFA is picking out Hislop as the sensible one? Just like the TTFF paraded Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy as the sensible ones for accepting their offer to settle. And then, of course, Yorke received a Sport Ambassador’s post while Latapy got the job of national team coach.

Photo: World Cup 2006 goalkeeper Kelvin Jack (left) congratulates his fellow custodian Shaka Hislop during the 2006 World Cup.
Photo: World Cup 2006 goalkeeper Kelvin Jack (left) congratulates his fellow custodian Shaka Hislop during the 2006 World Cup.

So, what will the TTFA offer Hislop?

Unfortunately for the TTFA, Shaka Hislop has more integrity. Mamaguy him all you want, but he’s already said that he will stand with the players. Maybe he will be a less aggressive participant but he will not be bribed into turning his back on his team mates.

And then we have the sob story about the youths and women’s teams being underfunded because we have to be paid. A disgusting attempt to mislead the public and win some support from a population that was outraged by the shenanigans of TTFF and is waiting to see if TTFA is really the future or just the past demons wearing angel costumes.

The TTFA made a deal. If they decided to use money meant for youth development or to fund various programmes that was their choice. Mr Fuentes and friends can’t lay the blame at our feet.

If the TTFA wants to avoid returning to court in February, they are going about it the wrong way

The same public name calling was done by the TTFF. They called us greedy for wanting what was promised by them! They filled the press with untruths to win favour. But once the real truth was known, the public turned against them.

Photo: Former TTFF general secretary Richard Groden (left) and attorney Om Lalla.
Photo: Former TTFF general secretary Richard Groden (left) and attorney Om Lalla.

Mr Tim Kee and Mr Phillips should take note. The media officer who failed so spectacularly at the TTFF is now the TTFA media officer and he is attempting the same PR own goal.

Yes, we as a group have, quite rightly, publicly criticized the TTFA for failing to adhere to their promises. And the TTFA have the right to explain the delays. That doesn’t mean that we have to accept their excuses.

An open debate allows people to understand the situation. But this unwarranted attack on the players is Mr Fuentes reverting to his old tactics of arrogance and untruths.

How dare he criticise players for wanting what was promised?! How dare he place the blame for lack of funding for the youths and women at our feet?!

Just tell the truth, Mr Fuentes, the TTFA made a deal that it could not keep. Now the players are angry. Accept it. Stop making excuses and own up to your failure.

We keep hearing about the sacrifices, the tremendous effort, the amazing deals they have achieved all to keep the players happy. But the truth is very simple:

Any competent administration would have fully funded their youth programmes, their women’s teams and paid their players and coaches. How? By working with us to reclaim the hundreds of millions of dollars that were proven to have disappeared during the TTFF’s reign.

Photo: Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner delivered water but, allegedly, little else to Haiti. He also stands accused of misappropriating millions due to the local football body. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner delivered water but, allegedly, little else to Haiti.
He also stands accused of misappropriating millions due to the local football body.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Stop blaming the players because you can’t keep a legal agreement. If you’re in a mess, it’s one of your own making. You have the evidence to get back the money that was taken, money that can fund your programmes for the next decade.

And while crying about the poor youths, how about taking back the CONCACAF Centre of Excellence? Our national team coach can’t find a decent surface to train on and you can’t afford to rent the facility that was built to develop the Caribbean’s footballers.

Mr Tim Kee, you, Mr Fuentes, and Mr Phillips may feel aggrieved about this letter, but if you really want patience, don’t follow the mistakes of the  TTFF and print untruths in the national press; because I, certainly, will defend my honour.

About Brent Sancho

Brent Sancho
Brent Sancho is the Minister of Sport and a UNC Senator. He is also the former CEO of Pro League football club, Central FC. He made 42 international appearances for the Trinidad and Tobago national football team, including three at the Germany 2006 World Cup.

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4 comments

  1. Well said Brent.
    I find Mr Fuentes comments which tried to paint the 2006 World Cup players in a bad light very disappointing.
    TTFA need to get more professional when it comes to paying staff and players and living up to its legal agreements.