He is out of the closet now.
Fifteen months into his reign as Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president, Raymond Tim Kee, a salesman by trade, finally stepped out from behind the cover of clichés and friendly platitudes to give an insight into his true nature.
TV6 presenter Joel Villafana snagged the memorable interview for RawSport but Tim Kee did not need much coaxing to unload. Perhaps it was just time.
World Cup 2006 defender Brent Sancho, one of 13 “Soca Warriors” who have already waited nearly eight years for promised bonuses, vented his hurt at what he felt was the TTFA’s attempt to portray the players as impatient and unnecessarily confrontational. At present, the TTFA is four months late on its second payment to the Warriors and is yet to inform the players when they will be paid.
Villafana asked Tim Kee for his response to his irate creditor, Sancho.
Tim Kee began: “Well, I thought it wasn’t worthy of a response from me…”
Before you had our curiousity, Mr President, now you have our attention.
Tim Kee clumsily tried to suggest that he meant to show discourtesy to Sancho’s views rather than the individual. But it was nullified by later accusing the Central FC CEO of lacking common sense.
“What I thought Mr Sancho would understand and any thinking person should understand,” Tim Kee continued, “you make promises on things over which you have control and all things being equal you could satisfy those promises.
“If we have no control over those funds because we are depending on those funds to come from a certain source… There is nothing ambiguous about that. I thought that was simple.
“We did what we could have done. Everyone knows we don’t have money.”
Tim Kee, as TTFA president, entered in an agreement before the High Court to pay 13 footballers an agreed sum by a stipulated date, which he reneged on. And then, rather than empathise with his frustrated creditor, he insulted him.
“I am here to serve,” said Tim Kee, in his maiden address as president. “… I will welcome divergent thought, difference of opinion because generally it is the antithesis that defines the thesis and open doors from a new synthesis that comes with synergies that work to make us all better.
“In short, under my stewardship, no voice will be silenced; no idea suppressed and no thought expressed will be left unconsidered.”
The reality has always been different.
Senior TTFA vice-president Lennox Watson told Wired868 that he had no clue where the funds to settle with the Warriors was sourced. Another TTFA vice-president and chairman of the technical development committee Rudi Thomas, who heads the committee responsible for hiring coaches, found out through the media that Leo Beenhakker and Stephen Hart were approached to lead the “Soca Warriors.”
The sidelining of the old executive has been justified by the fact that most of them were handpicked by disgraced former TTFF special advisor Jack Warner.
First, this ignores the not-so-minor detail that so was Tim Kee. Second, when is ignoring democratic process and one’s own organizational structure ever a good thing as standard business practice?
How can it be bad for Warner but good for Tim Kee?
The point is Tim Kee has begun to run local football with such carefree abandon that it has poisoned his approach with the Warriors as well. And he looked straight into the cameras and suggested that he was not bound by a promise made before the highest court in the country.
Sancho and his teammates, he suggested, can get nothing through the court. The Warriors will only receive money if they keep quiet and wait for him to get back to them.
Last March when he initially conjured up a settlement with the players, Tim Kee claimed the money given to the players was “unclaimed commercial and broadcast revenues that were due to the TTFF (from CONCACAF) for the 2014 World Cup cycle.”
It insults the intelligence to suggest that getting knocked out of the 2014 World Cup qualifying series in three months flat in the very first Caribbean phase was worth roughly $15 million (TT dollars). And, worse, that this money sat ignored and untouched for two years in a CONCACAF account while the TTFA struggled to find money to even hold training camps.
CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips and Tim Kee must not think much of their audience to try to sell that story.
In his recent interview, the man who claimed to have a monopoly on common sense offered an even more convoluted story which suggested that FIFA had withheld money meant for the Warriors because of a delay in the construction of Brazil’s World Cup stadia. Either that or the dog ate it for dessert right after enjoying some tasty homework.
Tim Kee was speaking a bit quickly there. And you know something is up when your salesman ups the tempo.
In reality, it does not matter. Tim Kee made a promise to the High Court and you are supposed to keep those. Normal people know better than scoff at such a contract.
But this is where Tim Kee showed just how far he has come since he became TTFA president and then Port of Spain Mayor.
He sat right in the mayor’s office and told Villafana that he could escape the court at any time.
“I could have easily—as was the advice from many, including legal advice, and looking at the enormous debt to be paid—declared bankruptcy, which cannot be questioned,” said Tim Kee. “If that had been done, if I had adhered to that advice, this now would not have been an issue.”
It is worth remembering here that Tim Kee was a vice-president when the TTFF entered into its World Cup bonus agreement with the Warriors and he still held that position when the players began their court case. Through collective responsibility and his own silence during Warner’s era, Tim Kee is also a party to this deal.
Yet, he spoke flippantly about dodging the debt and denying the players their share of profits; money that the TTFF claimed was taken by Warner but then steadfastly refused to chase, despite the repeated urgings of Justice Devindra Rampersad.
Villafana, unfortunately, never asked Tim Kee why he apparently refuses to consider legal action against Warner, despite his body’s precarious financial problem.
Tim Kee, after raising the possibility of cheating his creditors by legal sleight of hand, then attempted to pat himself on the back for not doing the unethical thing and urged the players to follow suit.
“I thought there would have been some greater appreciation for my selflessness and desire to see things done right,” said Tim Kee. “The pushing that is going on now; I still have the marbles in my hand to exercise options…”
The Warriors’ part of the deal was to qualify for the World Cup. Now, Tim Kee wants them to applaud too while he goes about not living up to his end of the agreement.
After calling the Warriors stupid for threatening to get redress from the High Court, Tim Kee warned the World Cup players that they would also be wasting their time if they sought help from FIFA.
“FIFA is a private organisation that accepts or rejects applicants that they want to accept or reject,” he said. “… This is not a company under any company act or anything like that; any organisation who meets the criteria for membership by FIFA could have (avoided debt through bankruptcy and still be fine).”
So, to summarise, the TTFA is being run by an egotistical leader who makes no secret of his political influence, considers himself to be untouchable by the law, is happy to make decisions without input from his executive and believes he can do as he likes because he has friends in FIFA.
If Tim Kee speaks this way now, imagine how he would sound if he had real power like a FIFA vice-presidency rather than just the leadership of a broke little FA on a tiny two island republic?
Meet Trinidad and Tobago’s new football chief; not much different to the old one.