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Shake-up: TTFA sacks Millien and demotes Phillips; averts coaches walk-out

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has responded to the financial furore regarding its alleged $.4 million licensing fee for a June friendly against Argentina, revealed exclusively by Wired868, by sacking its commercial agent Darren Millien and restructuring the role of its general secretary Sheldon Phillips.

Millien was the TTFA’s marketing consultant while he ran the football body’s FIFA-funded income generation programme.

Photo: One 2 One Marketing director Darren Millien runs the TTFA's FIFA-funded income generation programme.
Photo: One 2 One Marketing director Darren Millien runs the TTFA’s FIFA-funded income generation programme.

On Tuesday November 25, Wired868 revealed that $400,000 of taxpayers’ money from the Ministry of Tourism went missing and Millien was accused of collecting the sum from tour agent, Nissi Tours.

And, two days later, Tourism Minister Gerald Hadeed told the website that: “Millien is a person that no one should have any business association with. The fellah is an absolute f***ing crook!”

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer, initially dismissed the Wired868 articles as “a diabolic lie” but, after discussions with his enraged executive committee, he since appeared to have had a dramatic change of heart.

In a release this evening, Tim Kee stated that the football body agreed to:

1) Accept the withdrawal of Darren Millien’s services as commercial agent for the TTFA. This follows a meeting between President Tim Kee and Mr. Millien on Friday November 28;

2) The reconfiguration of General Secretary, Sheldon Phillips’, role by including William Wallace to lead government relations and team management functions;

3) Appoint former WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine as a consultant to lead efforts to assist the TTFA with its governance and management reform and to review and restructure organizational operations;

4) Reiterate the need to improve the governance structure of the TTFA in line with best practices.

Wired868 sought responses from Tim Kee and Phillips on the changes but calls went straight to voice mail.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Wallace, who is a national team manager and school teacher at Carapichaima East Secondary, said his new job description still in flux. He does not have a new job title or adjusted salary while he is uncertain what his new functions mean to his current role as manager.

However, Wallace admitted that he has often, unofficially, acted as a go-between for the national teams when administrative incompetence or distrust affected the “Soca Warriors.”

He played a role in quelling a potential boycott by the Warriors during the recent 2014 Caribbean Cup tournament and, with the assistance of All Sport director Anthony Harford, helped to smooth matters with the Carlton Savannah Hotel, who initially refused to honour a booking by the senior team due to an unpaid bill. Wallace was the buffer too, two years ago, when the Ministry of Sport refused to hand any money over to then TTFA general secretary Richard Groden.

Wallace is also the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) first vice president and a former Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) executive member and youth development committee chairman as well as the former president of Secondary Schools Cricket.

“I’ve been asked to exclusively deal with the government on all relevant matters so the General Secretary will have no interaction with them on anything,” said Wallace. “Also I will be the person getting budgets from the national teams and helping assess these budgets, set timelines and follow up on budgetary requests and so on so we do not end up in problems.”

And what will Phillips, whose monthly package is in the region of $45,000 minus a company car, be doing while Wallace handles all his major responsibilities?

“You will have to ask the General Secretary about that,” said Wallace.

Wallace got his feet wet immediately. This afternoon, staff of the national men’s and women’s under-17 teams held an unprecedented meeting to consider a mass walk-out over unpaid salaries and other issues raised in Wired868’s investigative pieces.

Photo: Caledonia head coach Jamaal Shabazz (left) and assistant coach Rajesh Latchoo enjoy a good day at the office. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Caledonia head coach Jamaal Shabazz (left) and assistant coach Rajesh Latchoo enjoy a good day at the office.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)

“They always talk to us about ‘serving your country’ but even servants get paid; it is only slaves that don’t get paid,” national under-17 women’s coach Rajesh Latchoo told Wired868. “At the end of the day, it is our fault because we let it continue. But the rope has reached an end…

“When you find out about missing money and what they are paying themselves, it sounds like they were fooling us the whole time. They’re drinking milk and honey and we are drinking from the drain; and it is very demotivating.”

After assurances from Wallace, both national teams accepted the TTFA’s new deadline of December 19 with the renewed hope of an injection of sponsorship money.

“We are giving the administration the benefit of the doubt when they say they are working with different sources to pay us what is owed to us,” said national under-17 team men’s manager Christo Gouveia.

At present, Wallace is also trying to arrange for the national under-20 team to have a pre-CONCACAF tournament camp in Mexico. Apart from the senior teams, no Trinidad and Tobago squad has played a friendly match since Tim Kee took over as president in November 2012.

“All the things that are happening now, we have to stay focused on the football,” said Wallace. “I am working right now on a Mexico camp for the under-20 team and we expect to get two games with the Mexico under-20 team and probably one against a club team.”

Millien has been booted out of the picture. It is left to be seen if Phillips’ demotion is a prelude to the same fate and whether Tim Kee’s belated actions will help his own political ambitions in and outside of football.

 

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to view an online petition started by a 868-er, which calls for a thorough and transparent investigation into the actions of the TTFA.

AboutLasana 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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92 comments

  1. All I wish to say is wherever there is smoke, there must be a fire. To get rid of the smoke you must put out the by any means.

  2. I have no problem with an investigation . But sadly from experience there will be none. The same file sent to the fraud squad was prepared by the prospective suspects in the case

  3. Funny thing Gerard Emile Zatopek Pinard if they are ever falsely accused they would beg for the same laws to take effect that they so wish to discard with utter rancor.

  4. I’m with Christophe Brathwaite on this…by all means let an independent investigation proceed forthwith and then deal with the consequences afterwards – let the cards fall where they may! As Trinis we are often too quick to tar and feather people without doing the proper thing in terms of establishing guilt.

  5. Because there has been many persons in sport who have gone to jail in sport so Im not sure whether your statement rings true. You may want to check your facts or do some research before making such a general statement. Knowledge precipitates Wisdom.

  6. I don’t understand your inference . Maybe you need to explain.

  7. Ah hadda ask the question cause worldwide people know FIFA is a mafia and no one bothers sending nobody to jail cause is sport. Odd.

  8. Whether you deem it boring or not Debbie Espinal I will not add to the lynch mob behaviour (guilty!! and dismiss the laws of natural justice) which you and others clearly display. This is not my own beat.This is the beat of our Constitution , of a Democracy I just wish to be an objective voice outside the lynch mob, that is rooted in the principle of presumption of innocence- a tenet of the rule of law. You speak of rights and yet you will not hold the same to others. I am not confused I am as clear as you are in your stance. So whether it bores you matters not to me, I have stated what I think is right and my conscience is clear. Claro!!!

  9. its amazing how politics has crept into this ttfa issue, and it has nothing to do with politics, this issue has been going on since the warner days and its just about an organasation not been honest

  10. So Christophe Brathwaite what are you really trying to say? Seems to me that you are confusing yourself as clearly ” the mobs” could see you’re on your own beat. And when has the TTFA ever displayed good governance? Lasana has a job to do which is to uncover the truth and let the chips fall where they may. Sounds to me that some of those chips are bothering you as you keep harping on this subject which frankly is becoming boring now.

  11. I never said they showed good governance ! I am not sure if the TTFA knows what that is. I am giving an example of what good governance is….step aside let the investigation occur. Again , I reiterate casting aspersions and defaming ones character is not the sober thing. Not saying you are doing that Lasana but the mob sure is. Fuelled by your by-lines evidently.

  12. Lasana Liburd check yuh blood pressure. Remember you have plenty dUNCe around lol

  13. So they showed good corporate governance? By waiting for the story to break, another five days to gauge the way the wind is blowing and then stepping aside to let due process take its course.
    Would you not agree that any such show of “good governance” would have to have been made when the police report was supposedly filed two or three months ago?
    And if you agree to that, would it then follow that the TTFA was merely being reactive after being caught out with a story they thought was a secret?

  14. What color lipstick did they put on the proverbial TTFA pig now?

  15. Just saying that there is a vast difference between “sacked and ” voluntarily withdrawing” ….I did not see anything with the word “resign” so the euphemism point doe not arise. Unless you are privy to a letter with the use of the word. Further, no one said that the TTFA not asking Millen to step aside was not a good thing . In terms of good governance /good corporate practice it is the “right” thing to do…step aside and allow an investigation to take place that will either find you culpable or innocent. So I remain outside of the mob/lynch crew until there is a proper investigation and reports submitted.

  16. And between me and you I have heard far more believable tales from children about why they can’t produce their homework!

  17. I’m not saying Millien is innocent eh, but no one has proven his guilt.

  18. Charles as a former footballer would have been accustomed to being paid by the TTFA in cash . He therefore probably believes its OK to pay the TTFA “Licence” fees in cash . I am just grasping at straws to justify the stupidity.

  19. I eas trying to explain that, but for some reason whatever I said was taken as me having tunnel vision.
    There is very little that is verifiable thus far and among them David Charles being in possession of the now missing $400k figures prominently.

  20. I fail to see how the TTFA’s failure to ask Millien to step aside is a good thing Christophe.
    But let’s not pretend to be silly here. Resigned is a euphemism in politics and business. You should know that.
    Did Sheldon Phillips offer to give up a substantial chunk of his portfolio too?
    Is it coincidence that Phillips’ downgrading happened at the same time as Millien’s resignation which also happened coincidentally right after the Wired868 stories?

  21. I guess he was not sacked huh? smh ……you cannot sack people unless you have concrete evidence and not hearsay. you need to build a case and reports by qualified experts is exactly what is needed. Not allegations from all and sundry. That only weakens the case when it reaches the stage where the Courts are called to lay judgement.

  22. Well said Cindy Howe, The are fraid to “rock the boat” . They need to be continually SHAMED, shown up whenever they take a misstep, that is the only way they respond….. unfortunately. SHAME is a heck of a tool. They scurry once they are brought up in Public. Much like any child. They push and push until they are embarrassed, they need someone to show them what limits are. That is what we the public need to do to keep them in check.

  23. AND WHY NO REPORT TO THE FRAUD SQUAD!!!? In real countries the case is not closed with a firing and a demotion. A demotion!!!!!???? Its when ARRESTS are made!!

  24. “…Carlton Savannah Hotel, who initially refused to honour a booking by the senior team due to an unpaid bill.”
    smh I can’t understand how they have unpaid hotel bills but doling out bonuses to all and sundry….! We need to keep the momentum going…things are happening…they need to see that T&T is fed up and this is the last straw. We want change and that press release is not enough!

  25. they all went with the money. In the 10 years of living in Trinidad I’ve read about stolen money, I’ve read about who stole the money, but I’ve never read about how to get back the money. once it out the door it’s gone.

  26. Agreed Adrian. I believe there are many but they’re either scared to ‘rock the boat’ or may have ‘cocoa in de sun’ or may not believe that their lone voice is enough. Lasana and yourself have the ability to write and a platform for it. We need other platforms for these voices to be heard.

  27. like today yes we going to support the girls but we should use today to show our disgust with the ttfa, do you know what is going to take place when these girls qualify, and money is given, all the free loaders will be on that plane to canada it has to stop now

  28. Some of us are not sitting back!
    The petition http://bit.ly/investigate400k is still online awaiting signatures…got 4 more today so far…
    And as Cindy Howe says, let’s brainstorm and figure out what and how we can get the change we want for the sport of football in T&T.

  29. We need more Lasana Liburds in society . It’s the only way to get positive change

  30. the football team coaches and supporters and also the former players who has a heart for the game and want change need to come together, cause the ttfa cant function it there is no football taking place, just food for thought

  31. I am not sitting back John. So let’s brainstorm and figure out how to get the change we want. It don’t have to start in some big splashy way. Let’s keep the momentum going. Lasana has done a lot of the leg work so let’s see how we can support him and ourselves.

  32. ok are we going to sit back now that one change has been made and wait for something else to happen, or are we gonna demand the removal of the persons who were there and said nothing untill lasana expose them

  33. Good work, Lasana! Congrats.