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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.

“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 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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136 comments

  1. Cricket and football are the big ticket sports, that’s why there’s so much confusion with the money.

  2. The only sports administrators that seem to have a problem handling money are those for cricket and football, maybe also Olympics. All others have no funding and are able to do their best to get the funds to help their sportsmen. Having funds seems to be the problem because then maybe someone else wants them in their pockets! No money, no corruption, no administration teams to share in the bonuses…

  3. Mark i know we’re in a mess but somehow i must find hope that this Country is salvageable some way some how not for my sake but my Children and Grandchildren’s. This is our home. I always say is here ah born and is here ah go dead.

  4. Half the population buy their license an the other half look to see who can help them skip a line. Like Rhaz Al Gul say this country have to burn an start over.

  5. Our problem might lie in our culture, that’s why the answer is so hard to find.

  6. If the Government is the answer, we have to ask ourselves again what the question is 🙁

  7. The problem with sports in Trinidad may just be that it’s administered by Trinidadians. I mean that and ineptitude are the only two common factors aren’t they?

  8. I take note Kendall but what you just wrote only compounds what both Lasana and mine’s take on this.

  9. What is government position on sports in Trinidad and Tobago ? Why we treat our sportsmen and sportswomen with such disregard . One of the greatest moments in Trinidad and Tobago was when we played USA in the stadium . The sense of patriotic pride and these f**kers only doing this over and over again !!!! PS: F**k all you who think the Government is not responsible #ministryofsportmyass

  10. Tell me again, why do we have a TTFA? Maybe all sports should be run by the MOS?! While I hate that suggestion, it appears that that is what is happening- last minute cap in hand to the ministry so people can get paid. I suppose that is what the WICB wanted, someone to step in and pay the cricketers.

  11. Let me ask, if the TTFA is to be held accountable for the taxpayer bailout money it receives, who should be holding them accountable and how?

  12. By any chance does anyone know if the game is being carried tonight live on any station?

  13. But how do we begin institutionalizing accountability?

  14. Vernal Damion Cadogan, the biggest problem in Trinidad and Tobago as a whole is accountability. The TTFA is far from alone on that score.

  15. I beg to differ Debbie Espinal. I can say unequivocally that not ALL State companies operated like that. Problem is that persons responsible for walking the straight and narrow weren’t wanted and are now out.

  16. At the risk of repeating myself, I solemnly declare that this island of the Caribbean Sea, this freaking place we call home is a pessimist’s paradise.

  17. Start having regulation and expectations in every department. Start teaching the kids how to hold each other accountable.

  18. It sounds like the biggest problem in our sports is accountability, how do we change that?

  19. Debbie, I just saw this on a friend’s wall:

    “People who fight down others usually have an internal fight with themselves going on. Don’t fight back; let them wrangle up alone while you climb about your business.. “

  20. Debbie, a lot of people were making the same point as you, but he chose to battle with you, like he’s done me when we were discussing the WI Team pullout of the Indian tour. Now if I turn round and say I cyar come to POS why don’t they host the match somewhere else, I’d hear if I really support the team I would make it my business to be there too, but T&T doesn’t begin and end in POS.

  21. Hopefully you’re right Savitri but not sure that’s the real reason. Time will tell. Thanks for realizing i can handle my stories and thanks for recognizing the point i was trying to make all along.

  22. Lasana, I asked about the FIFA grant when this debacle with the girls first broke, my take on this now is, FIFA is holding out on the grants (not sure eh) and have extended their term to give them time to put things in place or else! I could be wrong

  23. Ah was cooking and had to eat too. I started this about 20 mins ago eh. Gerard, if I really care what you say and how you feel bout me I would trawl through the archives of Wired, but you see I know it’s us the taxpayers who put food on the table of WICB, TTCB and TTFA and if that means you too, by way of consultancy or whatever, then we have every right to be very angry at their behaviour. There are so many threads running simultaneously re this football and for the last few days you mantra has been “put up or shut up”, what is that about? You know your own situation and so do we all, so if someone says that the TTFA is trying to dig out people’s eyes with their pricing you have no right AT ALL to continue with a slanging match. I see Debbie can handle her stories and even Bernard Pantin had to intervene.

  24. But Lasana whatever happened to Beenhakker? Thought he was supposed to be the Technical Director? Like he smell the coffee early o’clock and buss it.

  25. They seem happy to hang on indefinitely while paying themselves from FIFA money and money earned from the team’s participation in various internationals and then paying the teams from the Government.
    And our teams are suffering.
    So what good are they serving?

  26. If the TTFA cannot handle its affairs, why help them limp along? The TTFA should have received $4.8 million from FIFA in July/August. And that does not count other FIFA grants.
    Where did that money go?

  27. Savitri Maharaj, would you kindly point me to where I have defended the administrators? Or insulted you or others?

  28. How Sheldon Phillips still employed?

  29. Lasana, maybe baby steps…Perhaps we can attract a corporate sponsor to ‘adopt’ a single project at a time, for example the CONCACAF Gold Cup. A fixed investment budget that will define who and what gets paid (with the payments disbursed directly by the investor, who will be responsible for administering/managing the project) in return for advertising of the sponsor’s brand as agreed.
    I envisage the TTFA having a representative or two only on a majority sponsor appointed management team who will execute the entire project from start to finish.

  30. It would be nice for once Gerard if you don’t come and always defend administrators that continuously screw up, be it the WICB, TTCB or FIFA. We know a lot of them don’t really care for the wellbeing of our sports persons and always making excuses for them and insulting us on this forum does’t help take the conversations forward. A lot of contributors on this forum are actually sportsmen/women (as I’m finding out) who go out there and slog it for T&T and they are always being disrespected.

  31. Mark your guess is as good as many of ours.

  32. Savitri, I understand that eh, but I’m just suggesting that we have to move beyond the perennial bellyaching and personalising/politicising everything under the sun and actually start doing something about it.

  33. Lasana, I am not proposing any “bailout”, but rather an investment with hard conditions (including personal liability) attached…like in any successful business enterprise.

  34. Some people just can’t seem to get with the program Savitri.

  35. No Vernal. That will constitute interference. Gerard Emile Zatopek Pinard, the problem is Raymond Tim Kee and Sheldon Phillips have not improved with these bailouts.
    And, even with those bailouts, things have gotten worse.
    The Ministry of Sport approved over $600,000 for the women’s team within two days. Yet Phillips sent the women to the US penniless.
    The Ministry of Tourism funded the men’s team’s trip to Argentina. Yet Hart left short of two staff members and he was unpaid at the time.
    It is like giving money to a five year old. It makes no difference.
    Even when they get money, they cannot manage it.

  36. Gerard, it is a way of life in sweet T&T, that’s why corporate sponsors are backing off…they’ve finally seen what happened with their cash in the past, with some of these same people still involved. It’s difficult not to get personal when you see the same thing happening over and over

  37. Can’t the government sue the TTFA for misappropriation of public funds?
    The threat of legal action ought to be applied since the taxpayer is providing the bailouts.

  38. Another option might be for a willing corporate sponsor (or a few) to get involved with the TTFA on a purely business basis – i.e. shareholder-type inclusion in decision making, an approved budget, full accountability for its implementation, agreed performance targets, etc. Forget about government involvement – they have their own problems and, as Lasana pointed out, their involvement cannot be too intrusive without incurring FIFA sanctions.
    We must also be willing to appreciate that we are not doing the sport any good by broad brushing our criticism of the current administration and, worse, by personalising and politicising our ‘attacks’. A focused attack on the ISSUES rather than the personalities might be a good place to start. I suspect that we also dissuade well intentioned persons from getting involved when we are so quick to lambaste everything as we are wont to do.
    Just my 2 cents.

  39. I forgot where I was living for a second. Sigh.

  40. HHmm.. and we really can’t risk those two tournaments. So is it possible for Corporate T&T and the public at large to assist privately and sponsor players with kit, etc?

  41. More and more we looking like one Maria.