Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona, despite being the patron of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), did not travel with the Ministry of Tourism’s chartered flight to Buenos Aires.
Theron Boodan, the Information Officer for the Office of the President, told Wired868 today that, contrary to reports in this website, Carmona took a commercial trip to Argentina to watch the “Soca Warriors” tackle the host team in an international friendly on June 4. Argentina defeated Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires.
The mix-up occurred because the TTFA sent a shot of Carmona’s arrival in Argentina alongside photos of members of the Government’s chartered flight.
Boodan said that Carmona landed in Buenos Aires at roughly the same time as the Warriors and was photographed at the airport with the Government’s delegation. However, the information officer claimed that the President took a commercial flight to Argentina, specifically because he did not want to displace any supporters.
“When they invited him, he said that, from experience, he knew a lot of people would want to go and about five or six people would be displaced because he would need his security detail,” Boodan told Wired868. “So he told them that he appreciated the gesture; but he made his own arrangements via a commercial flight and even spent four hours in transit in Panama.”
Two members of the Trinidad and Tobago national football technical staff, goalkeeper coach Michael Maurice and therapist Dave Isaac, did not leave Piarco with the “Soca Warriors” as they were told, at the airport, that there was no room for them on-board. There were, according to TTFA press officer Shaun Fuentes, over 100 fans on the flight to Argentina.
Boodan said Carmona would never have allowed his trip to negatively impact upon the team.
“Even if he said he was going on the flight and found out another fan would be displaced,” said Boodan, “he is the type of person who would have said ‘take that person’.”
According to Office of the President, Carmona turned his excursion into an “official trip” by visiting Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during his stay. However, the highlight of his time in Buenos Aires was said to be the high profile football match and, in particular, Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra’s unusual greeting to Argentina football captain and global superstar Lionel Messi.
“(Carmona) is a passionate football fan,” said Boodan. “His cousin is former Trinidad and Tobago player Selwyn Murren (who was a defender during the country’s 1974 World Cup qualifying campaign)…
“The Excellencies paid an impromptu visit to the players at their hotel, on the evening before the game, to offer words of encouragement. And he said after that he felt it was a touching moment when Ataullah Guerra gave Messi a slight bow and a hug.”
Wired868 would like to apologise to President Anthony Carmona for suggesting that he flew with the squad to Argentina, which was prompted by a TTFA photograph of Carmona alongside other shots of the travelling party disembarking in Buenos Aires.