Trinidad and Tobago national senior women’s team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson has publicly criticised ticket prices for the upcoming FIFA Play Off second leg against Ecuador from 6 pm on December 2 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Trinidad and Tobago and Ecuador played to a goalless draw in Quito on November 8 and the “Women Soca Warriors” need a win next month to qualify for the Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup. No Caribbean women’s team has ever qualified for a FIFA tournament.
But the 28-year-old Attin-Johnson, who has a Sports Management degree from Kennesaw State University in Georgia, believes it will be harder to fill the Hasely Crawford ground at the $200 (covered stands) and $100 (uncovered stands) prices announced by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).
The proposed price is a steep increase in the $50 fee (covered and uncovered stands) charged for the women’s last competitive game in Port of Spain three months ago; although it matches the admission charge for the men’s team, in October 2005, when the Warriors faced Mexico in a vital 2006 World Cup qualifier.
Attin-Johnson, a classy midfield player, thinks the TTFA should have mirrored the approach in Ecuador where a US$5 and US$2 entrance fee provoked a record women’s attendance of 17,500 patrons.
“I’m very much against those ticket prices (for the second leg),” Attin-Johnson told Wired868. “All we as players want is a full stadium and with those prices, unfortunately, I don’t think we will have one.”
The Warriors captain said she raised her concerns to TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips who replied that the goal was to have parity with prices for men’s games and that the special nature of the Play Off game needed a special price to match.
“That is Ecuador; Ecuador is not Trinidad and Tobago,” Phillips told Wired868. “We based our discussion based on feedback we got from the folks in Trinidad and Tobago. That was good and appropriate for Ecuador…
“When the tickets go on sale on Monday that is when the market will speak. But people are waiting to buy tickets and we already have pre-orders… So the overriding issue is the importance of the game and the level of excitement from the public.”
But Attin-Johnson suggested that, after all the women went through in getting to this stage, they deserved a break.
Phillips suggested yesterday that the TTFA would be happy to get between 12,000 and 15,000 fans on December 2 although he did think a full stadium was possible. The national captain thinks the volume of supporters and not revenue should be the motivating factor behind the local football body’s approach to the upcoming match.
No Trinidad and Tobago women’s player or local coach has ever received a match fee during the course of their international careers. They often received no per diems either and it was not unusual for players and staff to pool money to buy refreshments after training sessions.
After all the problems the Women Warriors overcame to get here; could the TTFA give them the favour of doing everything possible to provide a full stadium for the game of their lives in Port of Spain?
Phillips promised the players a match fee for the first time on December 2. But Attin-Johnson said the team is more interested in getting the emotional support from the public.
“We as players will not be exploited because it is exactly that what is going on,” said Attin-Johnson. “We are the main attraction and we want a packed stadium. What is the reason for the price? Where is the money going?”
In Quito, Trinidad and Tobago head coach Randy Waldrum predicted a full stadium in Port of Spain for the return leg and Attin-Johnson echoed his call.
Whatever the TTFA decides, the Warrior captain hopes Trinidad and Tobago football fans turn out to help push the team over the finish line and into the history books.
“I’m just hoping the fans don’t see the cost as a reason not to come,” said Attin-Johnson. “I’m hoping they look at it as a chance to be part of history.”
Match tickets go on sale on Monday November 17 at all Kenny’s Sports Centre outlets, Trotter’s (Maraval Road, Port of Spain), Skinner Park (San Fernando), The Fan Club (Movietowne, Mucurapo), Ramsingh’s Sporting Goods (Chaguanas), All Out (Queen’s Park Oval), Econo Supermarket (Sangre Grande) and Heritage Sport (Scarborough)