Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee, according to a letter leaked to Wired868, apparently tried to deceive his own executive committee about the financial health of the football body and its debts to players and staff.
On 10 November 2014, Tim Kee, in a letter to his executive committee, appeared to dismiss claims that the TTFA had failed to meet its financial obligations to players and staff.
“There is no current debt to the national senior team and coaching staff,” wrote Tim Kee, in a letter that appeared to be signed by the football president and written on a TTFA letterhead. “The team has been paid all arrears and up to the date of this letter has been paid up to the CONCACAF tournament in Jamaica.”
The football president also told his executive committee that the arrears of his head coach, Stephen Hart, had been “addressed.”
“As you are aware, national senior team coach Stephen Hart, like his predecessors, is paid directly by the Ministry of Sport,” stated Tim Kee, on November 10, “and we have been working with them diligently to regularize Mr Hart’s salary arrangements.
“Currently Mr Hart’s arrears have been addressed.”
Both statements were, at best, economical with the truth. At worst, Tim Kee had presented a dishonest report to the football body and willfully misrepresented the condition of the TTFA’s flagship team.
On 14 November, four days after Tim Kee’s letter, Hart admitted that he still had not been paid by the TTFA while Wired868 understands he had gone eight months without a salary. The remaining staff and players have also gone six months since their last match fee with the combined debt believed to be in the region of $5 million.
And, in the period between the executive committee’s letter on October 22 and Tim Kee’s response, the “Soca Warriors” had been temporarily barred from their team camp at the Carlton Savannah hotel for non-payment. While the national players threatened to boycott the 2014 Caribbean Cup finals unless they received assurances regarding outstanding payments.
At present, the Warriors hope that outstanding money will be relayed to the squad via manager William Wallace on Tuesday November 18, which is the day of the Caribbean Cup final. The Trinidad and Tobago team, which faces host side Jamaica in the final, is bidding to lift the regional crown for the first time in 13 years.
The TTFA executive’s list of questions, which were signed by Lennox Watson, Rudy Thomas and Krishna Kuarsingh and apparently approved by Neville Ferguson, Roland Forde, Richard Quan Chan, Brian Layne, Sherwin Dyer, Paula Chester-Cumberbatch and Anthony Creed, also accused Tim Kee of failing to provide financial statements to the football body including figures for any of the Warriors’ international tours including the Argentina charter.
Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor, PNM Treasurer and chairman of the TTFA Finance Committee, conceded that there had been no audited accounting statements presented to the executive committee during his two years at the helm of the football body.
And he did not provide the requested information either. Instead, he blamed his failure to properly account for the football body’s spending on the “long list of financial issues” inherent in an organization that supposedly had not been audited between 2007 and 2012.
“It is particularly ironic that having inherited this previously poorly managed situation,” said Tim Kee, “that the same individuals responsible for the predicament of the organization now ‘demand’ to be presented financial statements that have been challenging to arrange due to the past mismanagement of TTFF accounts.”
Ironically, Tim Kee did not point out that he was a senior vice-president for more than half the period he identified. He did claim, though, that the football body’s management accounts would “be made available as soon as the auditors have had an opportunity to provide final sign off.”
He did not give himself a deadline to provide financial answers.
The executive committee had questions too about the TTFA’s use of FIFA funds, which should have been at least $4.8 million in 2014, and its treatment of the “Women Soca Warriors.”
“Why was the mandatory 15 percent (of the FIFA funds) not given to the national senior women’s team for their World Cup qualifying matches?” asked the executive committee.
Tim Kee did not say how much money his general secretary, Sheldon Phillips, received from FIFA but again suggested that such information would be provided after auditors had signed off on the football body’s account. Once more, he did not provide a date.
His response on the funding of the women’s team was also long-winded and vague.
“The FIFA funds provided were very specific in terms of their use and we followed FIFA’s guidelines and remained compliant throughout,” stated Tim Kee. “Additionally there were pressing financial commitments that as an Association we had to deal with in order to be a functional.
“By way of information the national women’s senior team was also funded through the FIFA bonuses and grants since the Government of Trinidad and Tobago had not responded to our requests at the time but have since been working with us to ensure that funding is made available to ensure the team and coaching staff has all that is needed.”
The TTFA executive committee further accused the Tim Kee and Phillips of “abominable bungling” in the departure of the women’s senior team to the CONCACAF Championship in October and demanded answers for their role in the subsequent embarrassment.
“Why was the national women’s senior team allowed to leave the country for their qualifying tournament without a single member of team management travelling with the team?” asked the TTFA executive. “Why was the team allowed to leave our shores with just $500 causing our national team to have to be the beneficiaries of charity, causing untold embarrassment to our country worldwide?
“You mentioned in your press conference later that the girls’ problems were caused by ‘system failure.’ Surely you are referring to the abominable bungling of the only two people now running football, yourself and the general secretary?”
Tim Kee’s response was again long-winded and punctuated with half-truths.
“The team travelled in 2 groups: Group 1 was 11 players and the second group including the team captain, manager, equipment manager, and trainer,” said Tim Kee. “The players in group 1 were given US$500 to take care of a meal for 1 night and transportation from the airport to the hotel. Breakfast was free at the hotel they were staying.
“The coach was also alerted about the situation on the morning group 1 left. The MoS (Ministry of Sport) thru the TTFA’s effort sent the requested monies needed for the duration of the camp the following day. In the process Mr Waldrum was misinformed by one of the players; reacted prematurely and negatively, and has since apologized for his actions in a formal letter.”
In fact, the team received no money from the TTFA at all before departure for Dallas but got the bulk of the US$500 from the parent of a player. And neither Tim Kee nor Phillips relayed money to the women until days after coach Randy Waldrum’s infamous tweet for help, just before lunch on Wednesday 8 October.
During that period, the Women Warriors survived on food stuff and donations by well wishers.
Although Waldrum subsequently apologized for his tweet, Tim Kee has still refused to accept any culpability and blamed a “time lag.”
“The ‘system failure’ as you mentioned has absolutely nothing to do with the alleged ‘two people running football’, which is another assertion that I would challenge,” said Tim Kee. “For clarification, the unfortunate situation had more to do with the time lag between the funding provided from the MoS and the funding reaching the coffers of the TTFA which sometimes gives the appearance of a ‘system failure’ and not what you have suggested.”
Tim Kee should have faced the football body for re-election this month but, due to FIFA’s intervention, has received an additional six month mandate while a TTFA-appointed committee rewrites a constitution under supervision from the world governing football body.
Thus far, Tim Kee has not responded to Wired868’s request for explanation on his letter to the TTFA executive committee.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 will publish the full letter from the TTFA executive committee and response from football president Raymond Tim Kee later today.