The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has denied its marketing official, Darren Millien, was fired by the local football body or that his departure was a sign of guilt over a $.4 million licensing fee con unearthed by Wired868 last week.
Millien was accused of requesting $400,000 in cash from travel agent, Nissi Tours, which was supposed to be a payment to the TTFA but promptly disappeared.
Tourism Minister Gerald Hadeed claimed that he reported the alleged crime to TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee before the “Soca Warriors” international friendly in Buenos Aires on June 4.
However, by Tim Kee’s own admission, the cash-strapped football body waited between three to four months to report the missing money to the police. And, even then, the complaint to the Fraud Squad was supposedly filed by TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips with help from Millien.
Phillips hired Millien and advised the tour agents that the former West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and Sportt Company executive member was his “go to guy.”
Within five days of Wired868’s exclusive report on the controversial payment, the TTFA announced Millien’s departure by press release while Phillips had his duties slashed as national senior team manager William Wallace took on the responsibility to liaise with the government and the various national teams over budgets.
But the TTFA insisted, via another press release today, that Millien’s departure, which was said to be only “until the issues surrounding the Argentina tour have been resolved”, was voluntary.
“Mr Millien met with me on Friday November 28,” said Tim Kee, in the latest press statement, “when we had a frank and open discussion, during which he voluntarily offered to withdraw his services until the matter has been satisfactorily resolved.”
The release did not say whether Phillips also offered to give up a large chunk of his portfolio voluntarily. Nor did it explain why Millien’s resignation and the restructuring of Phillips’ post did not happen when the matter was supposedly filed with the police—in August or September—rather than immediately after the Wired868 articles last week. Or why Phillips did not also resign.
Neither Tim Kee nor Phillips could be reached by telephone to give further explanations and the football president, who is also the Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer, did not return a voice message.
There is little indication, at present, that this matter will fade away anytime soon.
Hadeed told Wired868 that he has requested a copy of the TTFA’s statement to the Fraud Squad and hopes to have it before the end of the week.
And there is every chance that Millien’s name might rear up again on Friday when the Tourism Minister answers questions on the Argentina excursion in Parliament. Ironically, the Opposition has made queries about the trip although the responses might trouble the PNM’s treasurer, who continues to insist that the controversial marketing official is someone he holds in high regard.
“The PNM has asked some questions in the Parliament which I have to respond to pertaining the trip,” said Hadeed. “Basically that is on Friday in Parliament. If they ask supplementary questions, I will say exactly what went on… When you are a scamp you must not get away.”
Tim Kee is expected to face his own grilling from the TTFA executive committee too in the not-so-distant future.
In Sunday’s press release, the TTFA said that the decisions to: accept Millien’s withdrawal, restructure Phillips’ portfolio, assign new responsibilities to Wallace and include former West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president Dinanath Ramnarine as a consultant were all “unanimously agreed” by the ExCo members present.
What Tim Kee did not say was that five of the TTFA’s 12 executive members including the two senior vice presidents, Lennox Watson and Rudi Thomas, and SSFL president Anthony Creed and Paula Chester-Cumberbatch did not attend the meeting.
“What is Dinanath’s terms of reference?” asked one executive committee member, who did not attend the weekend gathering—supposedly due to late notice and the fact there was allegedly no agenda. “Is it a paid position? (William) Wallace is a top class fellah; but you cannot just create a position for someone and farm out some of the general secretary’s functions to him…
“If the general secretary is not good, and he seems to lack basic management acumen and is arrogant on top of it, then fire his backside!”
The Trinidad and Tobago football community is expected to unite between the “Women Soca Warriors” tomorrow evening when they aim to become the first Caribbean team to qualify for a FIFA tournament. The Warriors face Ecuador from 6 pm in a decisive Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup Play Off clash at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Tickets are in scarce supply and the TTFA advised fans that a limited number will be made available at its Hasely Crawford headquarters from 10 am on match day.
But Millien and the TTFA’s shenanigans, in relation to the State-funded trip to Argentina which has already cost taxpayers $2.1 million exclusive of a $1.2 million Caribbean Airlines bill, should be back on the agenda by Friday afternoon.