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Worst Sport Minister ever; Sancho, Tim Kee clash while Warriors suffer

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee has described Senator Brent Sancho as “the worst Sport Minister ever” as the relationship between the two bodies appears to now be at breaking point.

Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) pays a visit to Bourg Mulatresse. (Courtesy SPORTT Company)
Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) pays a visit to Bourg Mulatresse.
(Courtesy SPORTT Company)

The senior “Soca Warriors” are due to leave for Jordan this evening but have still not received funding for two nights accommodation in London. And the National Under-23 Team has still not received money for international practice games, a training camp or even visas to fly to Puerto Rico for the preliminary 2016 Olympic qualifying round, which kicks off on June 19.

Tim Kee told Wired868 that he clashed with Sancho last week after various funding issues including the Sport Minister’s declaration that the Government would only pay half of the players’ match fees leading up to the July 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor and PNM treasurer, insisted that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s $9 million Cabinet note, last December, guaranteed funding for the Senior National Team straight up to the Gold Cup tournament.

While Sancho retorted that 70 percent of the $9 million was spent on paying TTFA arrears to its coaches and players.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media during a happy moment between the trio in 2013. Sancho was announced as the Sport Minister in February 2015. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media during a happy moment between the trio in 2013.
Sancho was announced as the Sport Minister in February 2015.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“I told him you would go down in history as being the worst Minister of Sport we ever had,” said Tim Kee, as he discussed his fiery meeting with Sancho last week. “So you would have to tell the players they are only getting half of their match fees. (Sancho) said that is my job not his job.

“I told him the Government has to support the National Team. He said he doesn’t know about that and his shoulders are broad and he can deal with that.

“I said my shoulders are broad too but the difference between you and I is you are a politician and I am not.”

Sancho offered a similarly abrasive response.

“I am not getting into a verbal joust with a renowned incompetent administrator,” Sancho told Wired868. “At the end of the day, it is the players who will suffer. He needs to stop playing politics with the sport.”

The Warriors coaches, players and officials are already suffering.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team assistant coaches Derek King (left) and Hutson "Barber" Charles leave the field after the 2012 Caribbean Cup final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team assistant coaches Derek King (left) and Hutson “Barber” Charles leave the field after the 2012 Caribbean Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Just hours before their flight to Jordan via London, which leaves at 7.40 pm on June 11, Warriors manager William Wallace said he still does not know if the team will get the necessary funds to travel.

“It is 11.16 am and I am driving into Port of Spain where a cheque is supposed to be done,” said Wallace, who is also a Carapichaima East school teacher. “I am not sure what time that is going to be finished, so I will have to park up somewhere and wait.

“Then, I have to take (the cheque) to a bank and get it changed, load (the money) on to a credit card for me to use when I get to England and get home (in Chaguanas) to change to get to the airport at 5 pm…

“What we have to go through to get a dollar (from the Ministry of Sport) is dehumanising!”

National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart, who steered the Warriors into the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinal round, said he was told to be at the airport this evening to depart for their international fixture with Jordan on June 16. But no one knows if they will travel or not.

He said the current funding situation was harmful to the psyche and morale of his squad.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“This is becoming unbearable,” Hart told Wired868. “We are treating these players as if they are schoolboys and they don’t have arrangements to make with their families and they don’t have lives.

“It is wrong in every way. There is no team, I am sure, that is preparing for the Gold Cup the way we are.”

David Muhammad, who is manager of the Olympic Football Team, referred to their current predicament as a disaster.

“We submitted a budget of $1.7 million for three months, which included three camps, two tournaments and six competitive games plus three international friendlies and local practice matches,” said Muhammad. “That is an absolute minimum budget because just one game for the National Senior Team costs $600,000. But nothing has materialised.

“We asked for three foreign trips to play against Grenada, Antigua and Panama and we didn’t get a single one. Right now, we are hoping we can at least get a camp.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tries to take the ball under pressure from Guatemala midfielder Andy Ruiz during the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tries to take the ball under pressure from Guatemala midfielder Andy Ruiz during the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Muhammad explained that the national players are travelling to training on a nearly daily basis at grounds all over the country. Without a centralised camp, the team officials are forced to give or lend money to players for transport even though the staff members are not being paid either.

Muhammad used a practice match in Toco as one example of the poor support they have received.

“We asked for help in getting transport for the game,” said Muhammad. “We had 42 persons at the time because we were still screening players. The Ministry of Sport said they were sending us a bus but sent a 24-seater maxi instead.

“We ended up having to travel to Toco in five different vehicles.”

Tim Kee said the situation felt more galling when he observes that foreign Women Premier League (WPL) players are being housed at the Chancellor Hotel while the Sport Ministry has approved millions for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) competition.

According to Sancho, the Government will spend US$3.5 million for the CPL with the burden split between several ministries including the Sport Ministry.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel captain Dwayne Bravo (left) gets fired up during the 2014 competition. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel captain Dwayne Bravo (left) gets fired up during the 2014 competition.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“The Red Steel is not even a Trinidad and Tobago team,” said Tim Kee. “So I would like to know how the Ministry got money for that and we cannot get money for the national football team.”

Sancho retorted that Tim Kee’s football body failed to raise any of its own funds for the Gold Cup or upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. And claimed the TTFA refuses to declare its subvention or other sources of funding from FIFA or CONCACAF.

“We have asked them to submit the money they have gotten from FIFA and CONCACAF and other sources and he refuses to,” said Sancho. “Yet he is demanding that we must pay all their bills. He is even asking us to pay for insurance for players when his own company (Guardian Life) refuses to sponsor their insurance…

“We have been very generous despite all their shortcomings and we are trying to work with them. But he is trying to agitate the program and he knows only the teams will suffer.”

Sport Ministry communications manager Shabaka Kambon gave an estimated breakdown of its spending over the past three years to the various sporting bodies.

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

“Football got over $50 million with $33 million going to the football association,” said Kambon. “Track and field and cricket got less than $20 million each. Hockey, boxing and netball got less than $7, $6 and $4 million respectively…”

Tim Kee said general secretary Sheldon Phillips and himself were trying to raise funds from corporate Trinidad and Tobago. But he conceded that they have been largely unsuccessful.

It is the first time in living memory that the Warriors will enter a World Cup qualifying campaign without a single notable sponsor.

“We have tried and we have not been getting any traction,” said Tim Kee. “We have started a new (income generation) initiative with a new website and so on and we have deals in kind with Blue Waters and Gatorade.

“But we don’t have any direct money coming in.”

In the meantime, temperatures continue to rise and fingers point back and forth between the TTFA and the Sport Ministry.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team celebrates a win over Honduras during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team celebrates a win over Honduras during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Another Sport Ministry official, who spoke anonymously, accused football of presenting “reckless budgets.”

“We looked at the budget the Under-23s brought,” he said. “And any player who plays in every match for them would make $20,000 a month in match fees and stipends for their two months…

“Now remember these are under-23 Pro League boys. They are spending recklessly.”

But Muhammad defended the request.

“Whoever said that obviously knows nothing at all about football. even if that were the case, does that mean you cancel all the camps and matches for the team?

“The budgeted (match fee) figure was US$1,000 per game for six competitive games,” said Muhammad. “The justification is the National Senior Team pays match fees of US$1,500 for entry level Caribbean Cup qualifiers. The Pan Am Games are much higher profile games but still we reduced it to US$1,000.

“Our squad is a fully professional squad and we are the only Caribbean team that qualified for the Pan Am Games. Anyone who thinks that is too much probably thinks we are lowly servants or slaves.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin celebrates his strike against Aruba in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championships in Jamaica. He was booked for the gesture by Bahamian official Randolph Harris. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin celebrates his strike against Aruba in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championships in Jamaica.
He was booked for the gesture by Bahamian official Randolph Harris.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The Under-23 manager claimed that even the mention of match fees was an attempt to play games by the Sport Ministry.

“These players are already getting just US$50 per day stipend and working on a minimum budget and they want to slash match fees too?” asked Muhammad, rhetorically. “But my point is, even if they disagreed with the match fees, does that mean you cancel all the camps and matches for the team because of that?! Why bring up match fees now?

“This goes back to the colonial mentality that black people shouldn’t be making money. Did they cancel the camps because of spite then?”

Sancho did not give a firm commitment to either the senior or under-23 Warriors and said only that the Sport Ministry would do its best.

It suggests an uncomfortable year for football—and the women’s Under-17, Under-20 and Senior Teams also have international engagements—unless the TTFA can raise its own money.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho. Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and CEO of local Pro League club, Central FC. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho.
Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and CEO of local Pro League club, Central FC.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

“Football gets far more than everyone else (from the Sport Ministry),” said the anonymous sport official. “Why bite the hand that feeds you? If I was a member of corporate Trinidad and Tobago, I would say if Tim Kee’s company isn’t putting in money then why should I?

“What don’t the loads of businesses he meets as Mayor of Port of Spain or PNM treasurer give money?”

 

Editor’s Note: Trinidad and Tobago National Team Manager William Wallace said he eventually collected a cheque from the Ministry of Sport at 4.03 pm on June 11, which will be used to pay for accommodation. He left the cheque to be processed and transferred on to his credit card tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, the “Soca Warriors” will fly to London and then head for their hotel with the hope that the money will come in time. The technical staff members are still owed salaries while there is insufficient funds to pay the players’ full match fees.

All money mentioned in the article is in TT dollars unless otherwise stated.

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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117 comments

  1. Not a shit Wayne Mandeville.

  2. What were the realistic expectations, standards and deliverables expected of Sancho once he assumed or was appointed to the position as Minister of Sports? What did we know of his ability to problem solve, build a team, establish working values, a vision for others to follow and work within a team structure?
    Just asking?

  3. I see ppl saying brent is the best SPORT MINISTER what have he done since he got there? OPEN some centers they were build before he became MIN ISTER he has some questions to answer in the SENATE 5 mths now and he ducking why not talk about that. He is a joker looking for camera he needs to give us back some of our taxpayers MONEY

  4. Mr LIBURD here we go again did we not go through this with then MINISTER ROBERTS what the hell the MINISTRY gets the CALENDAR and everytime the ppl have to beg, When BRENT was a PLAYER he used to cry shame what happen to him now he is in charge.SET of games TIM KEE cant get love from me also he is the head look how long we know this team has to go away so he just was studing FIFA and JACK not the team. NAH man two of them have to go

  5. So coal pot calling kettle black. And while all this crap continues we expect miracles from our team. How de arse we expect them to perform with shit like this continuously taking place. Lawd Fadda put ah hand.

  6. Tim kee playing politics with sport leave sport out of your bull shit tim kee. More has been done for sport under this government than any other.

  7. The Government has a duty to look after its citizens and obligation to spend taxpayers dollars wisely! The TTFA has a duty to look after its footballers and obligation to allocate its resources wisely. The Government and TTFA are not obligated and owe no duty to each other if there is no MOU between the two. The footballers, coaches, trainers, all pay government tax. If footballers did not pay taxes in any form or fashion, then the government would not have a duty to look after them. The Pres of TTFA and the goodly Minister of Sport also pay taxes and though they ought to be obligated to their own views they have a duty to perform since football is a public good. Are the institutions in question truly private entities? If any poor people out there can follow this, just know it is why it pays to be stupid in this country!

  8. I Will Never Blame a Government for That! Sorry Only if they are mandated to assist… Wish one day the spoil treatment will stop

  9. Who in their right mind will give any money to an organization run by Raymond Tim KEE ?? That man is the epitome of incompetence ..

  10. The shit they does put our athletes thru and expect 100% from them still is nonsense. And that’s not just for football. Why can’t we support our own whenever we have to go abroad. Smfh.
    I always say trinidadians are not meant to be some professions:
    Police
    Politicians
    Nurses
    Gvt ministers
    Customer service reps
    Cause we are play the ass when it comes to doing what we have to do and get vex when a foreigner comes and gets paid a lot more to do the exact same fucking thing.
    The country eh. Smfh

  11. takes two hands to clap, isnt tim kee a fool too?

  12. what has tim kee done for foorball…. served under jack for years….. brent not giving money unless they account for tax payers dollars….. i agree with brent.

  13. Clint you mean kind of how the government only seems to reward athletes when they win gold medals or excel at their athletic craft, instead of supporting sporting programs to help them perform optimally, which is often their sole livelihood? Neither fare better.

    This situation is a perpetual mess with no end in sight.

  14. Totally disagree ;dat is Anil Roberts crown

  15. The state should NOT be funding the national football team. Where are the so called wonderful, give back to the country corporate sponsors? I know where they are…waiting for the team to do well then jump on the sponsorship bandwagon for their own sake.

  16. hahaha resume hostilities… love it…

  17. When you look at the tunnel you cannot see any light from F.I.F.A to T.T.F.A to Ministry Of Sport take a page from Blatter and resign NOW!!! Please!!!!!!! my fear for the youngsters involved in the beautiful game in the country is dismal. YOU ALL HAVE BEEN MEASURED AND FOUND WANTING. All you have is excuses and no solutions

  18. Sports Minister ? Oh, is that what he is ? Was not even a good footballer, (from a good footballer of yore).cheuuppssss !

  19. Everybody expects the other to do the right thing and it so happens this soon ends up being the wrong thing cuz the innocent become the casualties. Persons in power are leading with responsibility conveniently. That is why it pays to be stupid in this country!

  20. Lasana, I agree and disagree.TTFA must be transparent to be afforded funding .Transparent in everything. The team manager has no business parking up waiting on a cheque.Business has to be conducted on a better level and if it means that the team gas disappointed once or twice then so be it.We cannot continue to be going cap in hand not having a long term plan which we produce and show for a 5 to 10 year period with financials. It is nonsense that we always scramble for games at short notice and under prepare teams at short notice.

  21. When is he resigning? Cant he see that corporate TT has no confidence in him and Sheldon Phillips? Bring in the FBI to TTFA too

  22. Oh ho; Shabaka Kambon eating ah food, so his father is quiet!

  23. Both need to see the door. pure jokers , I’m not pounding one and leave the other .

  24. Trinidad is not a football nation. We like football but we are not prepared to pay the price to be a football nation. This is so poor.

  25. I sense that this gov’t does not have a sports policy , and so they keep stumbling their way through event after event, how sad .

  26. I really fed up of the none sense tho!!! Persons in time pass was the advocate for the players was the key figure in the Soca warriors settlement, the national senor team settlement last CFU final and the women senor team bonus deal now he is the direct cause of pain!! It is also passing strange that caribbean airline is the official carrier of the WPL and yet our national teams are sponsored by them!!

  27. I will hold MY tongue for now as I try to build some patience since Ramadan is approaching, but good points by Nicole Ulerie and Jevon Cox…..biting my lip

  28. Whatever the plan Ian Brooks, let them be transparent and not have the national team manager parked up waiting for a cheque. That is classless.
    If they choose to dig in, then so be it. But be straight about it.

  29. There are a number of unresolved or silent issues here.TTFA receive an allocation from FIFA and may be in receipt of funds from ventures.They must first show the Ministry what has become of their own funds before any more funds are considered to be allocated to them. Is TTFA merely to continue to be funded without any real checks and balances? I think not and I am not accepting the sad story about the players as TTFA have abused these same players for donkey years.The same ones with Tk as VP who refused to pay the Soca Warriors
    Let us right this ship now and consider suspending activities until.we know TTFA’S true accounts and their long term plans and projections from youth football to the senior team

  30. Brent is d best sports minister Tim Key is ah dunce

  31. The Sports Minister is right , how could i give you money when you refuse to tell me what monies you have from FIFA nad CONCACAF.Why was 70% of the $30 mil given to TTFA by the Sports Ministry spent on back pay to Tim Kee and that ……..Phillips.Only the Lord above know how much they paid themselves.. They push aside the GK Coach in the last Tournament to carry his old ass father who cannot even bend down to pick up the ball because his knees not good (btw what about Phillips and the $4 mil in Movie Towne).

  32. Scrap d whole fn ttfa and d football program. the only thing missin in the success of football is a few indian players or any other race. I aint no fn racist but this is a rainbow country. Everything for everbody is money. Thank God u representing a twin island republic. Fn man named tim kee….i aint even wanna know what part ah dat is chinese

  33. So how come the TTFA is in debt .Tim Kee needs to explain how this happens .he needs to account for every penny governments gives to this spory as are other sporting groups .proper accountability is needed

  34. I done with local football yes…sancho was a formal player n dis shit he allowin to happen….stupes….typical animal farm….everybody wants different but would the same in a higher position

  35. How in the world Soca Warriors are expected to perform at their best with this type of leadership? This type of poor support has to have a negative affect on our sportsmen. What I despise is when they return and let’s say their performance was subpar, everybody talking about better luck next time, you did your best, we proud of you. stueeepsssss

  36. Sherdon TTFF had a fund raiser for Adams. They totally botched that and lost some.of the publics confidence.

  37. Lasana Liburd I will support that statement because we keep forgetting that an Association is a Business that is Independent… I dont think the MOS is obligated to assist any federation but we are forever spolit by the gimme this and gimme that mentality… When last any of these organizations had a fundraiser or a venture to accumulate funds??? I can also assure you, If the amount of money that was invested in football over the last 2 decades was invested in other sports we would have been World Leaders in those sports

  38. Is he worse than the flag minister?

  39. I am happy for all contracts to come under scrutiny. But it is not normal for teams of our calibre to ask for match fees at all.
    Nations like Brazil and Argentina will ask for a big figure that includes match fees on the grounds that you would make up the money from tv rights. And that is fair.
    We are not on that level. It won’t happen.

  40. Lasana Liburd Whilst not customary, it is negotiable, and many times done. If the TTFA continues to go with their arms outstretched asking for funds, maybe these types of contracts need to be open to scrutiny. I am just tired of football suffering because of greedy and selfish administrators. There is no planning, no budgeting… Only haphazard steps….

  41. The TTFA is in the business of keeping its match contracts very private YoungWarriors Ttff. The Argentina trip highlighted that.
    Not it isn’t customary that the host team pays match fees. That would be unusual. But it wouldn’t be unprecedented.
    We don’t know without seeing that match contract.

  42. As for associations fund raising, I obviously can’t speak for all, but I know some national teams were fully funded by the Manning-led government. Quite frankly, I think associations have just become lazy with respect to fundraising and expect the government to provide 100% funding.

  43. Lasana Liburd what about Match Fees? Jordan pays nothing?

  44. I won’t comment on the fact that Tim Kee is the POS mayor and the PNM treasurer but thinks Sancho is the only politician in this fiasco.

  45. YoungWarriors Ttff, I was told that Jordan is paying for the team to fly from London to Jordan and back as well as taking care of their accommodation.
    All the TTFA needs is funds for return tickets to London and overnight in London.
    Of course this funding situation also affects several other national teams including the under-23 squad!

  46. Our 2018 World Cup campaign is in serious trouble before it has even begun. I really feel for the team and the officials.

  47. I am not understanding something, why accept a game with Jordan, fly all that way, and our expenses are not taken care of by Jordan or the Match Organizer. Something does not add up guys. Lasana Liburd inquiries should be made as to what was offer to play Jordan, who asked who, what are financial obligations. I understand TT need games, but flying to Jordan to play a 103rd ranked team, and paying our own expenses???? Makes no sense, and I really do not want my tax payers dollars supporting this. I am almost sure that Jordan agreed to pay the TTFA for this game, inclusive of airfare and accommodations… If this was not case, we should not have accepted game. Use funds to get games in US, even with MLS Teams, instead of chasing a 103rd ranked team around the world… TTFA not being forthright, same as when TT played In Saudi Arabia recently… Somebody’s Bank account just got bigger off the Warriors and taxpayers back