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Warriors unpaid for six months; but vow to lift Caribbean Cup

The “Soca Warriors” are four days away from the 2014 Caribbean Cup finals in Jamaica after successive group stage wins over Curaçao and French Guiana. But Wired868 can confirm that it is six months since the national senior team players were last paid a match fee and eight months since Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart received a salary.

The Warriors stormed up to 49th in the FIFA rankings last month, which is the country’s highest place in eight years. Off the field, though, the situation is increasingly fragile with the squad repeatedly frustrated with unfulfilled promises by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart makes a point during a training session in Sao Paulo. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart makes a point during a training session in Sao Paulo.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

Wired868 was reliably informed that the Warriors have not received any payment for their last six outings, which dates back to a June 8 friendly against Iran in São Paulo. The outstanding sum is said to be nearing the region of $5 million.

It is a talking point within the camp and a source of concern for players and staff alike. However, Hart assured Trinidad and Tobago that the Warriors remain focused on the job and bringing pride to the two island republic in the regional tournament.

“The players and all of us are just trying to focus on football,” Hart told Wired868. “All the discussions between players and management (about the outstanding money) happened before we left (Trinidad). These players are totally focused on getting to the Gold Cup, which we have achieved, and trying to win the Caribbean Cup.

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“In the back of their minds, I am sure there are little issues. But they have given more than I can ever ask of them on the field.”

The San Fernando-bred coach, who previously coached Canada at youth and senior level, was more guarded when asked to confirm that he had not been paid for the last eight months. He stressed that he felt uncomfortable discussing such matters in public and did not want to distract his squad.

“I suppose it is no real secret that I haven’t been paid,” said Hart. “But I don’t want to make waves or wash my laundry in public. I just want to focus on us getting to the Gold Cup and speak to (the TTFA) later.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (right) takes on the Curacao defence in the 2014 Caribbean Cup while teammate Kevin Molino looks on. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (right) takes on the Curacao defence in the 2014 Caribbean Cup while teammate Kevin Molino looks on.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Team manager William Wallace has still not left for Jamaica as he tries to play his role in handling the financial rescue package, which is expected to come from the Ministry of Sport. But he said he expects the matter to be sorted in time for Tuesday’s Caribbean Cup final.

“All will be well by next Tuesday,” said Wallace. “The Minister of Sport (Dr Rupert Griffith) really went beyond the call and people stayed in (the office) until after 6 pm to do the paperwork to make sure all is ready by next week Tuesday.”

When Hart was unveiled as the new Trinidad and Tobago head coach on 24 June 2013, Tim Kee said his salary would not be borne by taxpayers but, instead, would be picked up by three unnamed sponsors—two local and one international organisation. The supposed sponsors were never identified and Wired868 understands that Hart’s outstanding payments are also on the Government’s tab.

Trinidad and Tobago plays its final group match tomorrow on Saturday November 15  from 9 pm (TT time) against Cuba in Montego Bay. A draw or a win will put Warriors in the final for the second time in successive competitions.

In 2012, Trinidad and Tobago lost 1-0 to Cuba in extra time of the regional final. And Hart said tomorrow’s game will be treated like a final.

“We have to play two finals,” said Hart. “One tomorrow and, if we win, another one after that on Tuesday And that is all I am concerned with right now.”

Unfortunately, it will not be as simple as putting Trinidad and Tobago’s best players on the field. And, although Orlando City attacker Kevin Molino scored seven times in his last four outings, it is possible that the gifted number 10 will be rested tomorrow as a matter of preserving the player’s health.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfield ace Kevin Molino (centre) flicks the ball around Dominican Republic midfielder Heinz Barmettler (left) during the Caribbean Cup qualifiers while coach Stephen Hart looks on. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfield ace Kevin Molino (centre) flicks the ball around Dominican Republic midfielder Heinz Barmettler (left) during the Caribbean Cup qualifiers while coach Stephen Hart looks on.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

According to FIFA rules, players are only supposed to play twice within an international match window. Molino has already appeared in two games and there are as many remaining.

Should a player’s employer lodge a complaint, the TTFA would be open to sanction for violating FIFA’s guidelines.

“You have to think about the health and wellbeing of the players,” said Hart. “Almost almost every coach here is in the same situation… Some players are coming off the field eight to ten pounds lighter than they went on and there isn’t time for them to recover. And some players who played back to back games are dead.

“So we will be negligent if we didn’t pay attention to that… I am trying to rotate the squad and I think the players here have shown they can do it.

“I have to think about what is best for the player.”

The Warriors have not lifted the Caribbean crown since 2001 and team captain Kenwyne Jones said the players are determined to set that right. As an added bonus, the 2014 regional champion will also be invited to take part in South America’s 2016 Copa America tournament.

The players and technical staff are hoping, as they go about their jobs, that the TTFA is doing its own work to ensure they are remunerated for their efforts.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief 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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  1. According to today’s Guardian, the Warriors have decided to boycott the game tonight.

  2. No shame. With all the investment coming in to this country? Thieves. Heartless thieves involved. And if and when they reach a World Cup the government will jump on board with promises and act as if they had some role to play and then we will find out months after the glitter has long settled that they have fulfilled no promises and nothing will be done, because these ministers do not seem to feel guilt. I’m also not sure how I feel about Tim Kee. So far I can’t say i’m impressed, but there is likely to be a lot that we don’t know. So I will reserve judgement.

  3. Actually he was there. Came in at the back of the throngs strutting like a peacock. We were nearby when he arrived.

  4. Nothing to laugh about Savitri. Give Jack his jacket.

  5. So was Gerry Savitri. I actually walked alongside Gerry during the last march.

  6. So did I Judy Ann and in the last march with the thousands who turned up. Some of us as just concerned citizens but to no avail. I was also ridiculed by some of my Family and Friends for doing so. Under these circumstances can one question why i’m disenchanted?

  7. Debbie, I have taken to the streets and I started with S 34.

  8. I’ve already lost faith Judy Ann. Time to take to the streets.

  9. I am sooooooo in agreement with Debbie and her comments on Rowley and Tim Kee. If PNM want to form the next government they have to jettison people like TK and bring on people that we can, at least initially, have faith in. When we lose faith we will take to the streets!

  10. I don’t expect to get many likes on my latest posts but let me inform you that i once walked the streets with Dr Rowley and i stood by his side in Balisier House during the run up to the 2010 elections when Mr manning was trying to oust him from the Diego Martin West seat. There are photos in the Newspapers to prove that but as long as he continues to shield Tim Kee and not show any support for our Sports men and Women especially our struggling Footballers and the small man i will no longer be walking the streets. And i’m not doing it for PP either. Done talk!

  11. Besides Rowley was the one who made the biggest noise when Jack Warner was holding down two portfolios and he’s turned around and now doing the same thing. Mayor and and head of the TTFA. Both of which suffering. Not one word from Rowley regarding the Footballers plight. You think he studying the struggles of the small man/women who playing their hearts out for our Country? Politics is all about big business and business people and their campaign funds. Heart still bleeding!

  12. Maybe just maybe it’s time for us to really start rallying. While our footballers are struggling Tim Kee strutting in the Savannah at the PNM Convention. I mean no disrespect to the PNMites but fair is fair. You think he studying the Footballers?? Gimme a break!

  13. And you know what, Hart also has a Wife and Family to mind. How much longer do you think he will stay here at this rate? Love of Country doh put food on table and he’s already gone way beyond the call. Are we going to allow this so called administration to let a true Son of the Soil like Coach Hart whose dream was to Coach his fellow Trinbagonians and do it well leave our shores?? When are we the fans going to say enough is enough and let our voices be heard and really do something concrete instead of just chat on FB and when are we going to demand accountability. Those Men and Women are working their asses off to represent US, We the PEOPLE and all we do is talk,talk,talk. STEUPS!!!

  14. Stephen hart is a trini to the bone!. Hardiest working trini coach ever!. His hard work will pay off

  15. That’s why TTFA should invest in local coaches’ education ’cause a FOREIGNER will NEVER tolerate what Stephen Hart is tolerating, Beenhaker take off full speed.

  16. That’s for shit sure the ballers eh seeing one black cent ah that money and that’s what’s irking me to pay the $100. or $200. Hope people don’t go rushing to buy tickets cause the first 100 they sell they will say people have no problem with the price. Hall up people and wait.

  17. well since no body getting paid why should we pay to go see the ladies play lets us go in free its not like if we pay the ballers will get any of that money

  18. And dedicated enough to work so TTFF can collect a salary eh Kenneth Ransome

  19. What a shame! No pay for 6 months.

  20. I am at the TTCA award function and the President has waded into poor procurement practices bythe State and the need for the Procurement legislation. It was quite interesting given the audience.

  21. Where sports fans come into this re ethical standards pray tell?

  22. What the hell!!!!!??? Y’all asking for a higher standard of ethics? Ask saddis who comment wuz he name? Clementine?

  23. Professional sports needs to be tightly regulated in order to reduce the likelihood of corruption, but that requires a higher set of ethical standards from sports fans and sports administrators alike.

  24. Maybe I should say WICB for cricket…

  25. Local cricket administration (TTCB) has been very well administered over the years, in my view.

  26. Big man ting… yuh really hada applaud the athletes who represent TT yes…. dem fellaz does see rel trouble yes…

  27. Now we’re hearing stories about the Cycling Federation too