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TTFA labels Sport Minister Sancho as a bully in surprise attack

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) today issued a stinging broadside aimed at the head of the football body’s main sponsor, Sport Minister Brent Sancho, as the tit for tat between the two parties was surprisingly restarted.

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 TTFA release, which was authorised by president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips, rebutted suggestions by the Sport Ministry that it had been less than forthright about funding received by CONCACAF.

However, the football body raised the ante by blaming Sancho, a former 2006 World Cup player and litigant against the TTFA, for putting politics over patriotism and creating a poisonous environment.

“Since Minister (Brent) Sancho’s appointment, recent incidents, including what can only be described as a coercive action where the ministry threatened at the last minute to withhold funding for our March friendly against Panama,” stated the TTFA release, “unless the TTFA accepted responsibility for a $625,000 travel bill authorized by the Ministry in 2014, have created an environment that is not conducive to working together on behalf of our national footballers and technical staff.”

The TTFA’s statements, whether accurate or not, are oddly timed with the National Senior Men’s Team, which is competing in the the CONCACAF Gold Cup, soon to be due match fee along with the National Under-23 Men’s Team and Senior Women’s Teams at the Pan American Games.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland. (Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland.
(Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)

The Sport Ministry virtually bankrolls the TTFA at present while the Women’s National Under-17 and Under-20 Teams are due for competitive action soon and the senior “Soca Warriors” start their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in October.

Of course, Trinidad and Tobago will hold its general election on September 7 and Tim Kee, who is treasurer of the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Port of Spain Mayor, might expect to have a new Government in place in two months time.

It might be interpreted in some quarters as a calculated political gamble then, which would mock the TTFA’s assertion that: “patriotism above politics will win out.”

Although the football body would probably retort that it is merely speaking up for itself in the face of alleged character assassination by the Sport Minister.

The following is the full TTFA release:

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)

The TTFA wishes to emphatically rebut recent assertions made by Minister of Sport, Brent Sancho, claiming our organization has not been forthcoming regarding supporting funds received from CONCACAF.

By way of written communication and via meetings between representatives of the Ministry and TTFA, the Ministry was alerted to funds available to TTFA from CONCACAF. It is clear, however, that the Ministry has not taken into consideration CONCACAF funds received would be shared among several of our national teams and not solely preserved for the Senior Men’s National Team.

The TTFA has received $71,000 USD from CONCACAF for use by our national teams currently in training and competition.

Of the $71,000 received, $25,161.14 USD has been used to support the travel-related expenses of our senior men’s team, U23 men’s team, U17 women’s team, and U20 women’s team. In anticipation of the disbursement from the Cabinet note that was specifically earmarked for the Senior Men’s National, the TTFA sought to provide funding for other lower profile, but equally important national teams.

Photo: The "Women Soca Warriors" enjoy a good result during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: The “Women Soca Warriors” enjoy a good result during the 2014 CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

These expenses include US visa payments, lodging, excess baggage fees, medical supplies for travel, and insurance. Therefore and contrary to a building narrative pushed, the TTFA was successful in sourcing alternative funding to support its teams in an effort to reduce dependency on the Ministry.

Despite our best efforts, communication with the Ministry continues to be an issue. We have worked with members of the Ministry who have, at heart, the best interests of T&T football and the TTFA will continue to work assiduously with the Ministry to achieve these common objectives.

However, it is vital for the two entities to work together on behalf of the national team players and technical staff who represent our twin island republic.

We have engaged in successful collaboration with the Ministry of Sports in the past and recently received tremendous support from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of National Security in obtaining duties waivers for our national team kit.

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)

However, since Minister Sancho’s appointment, recent incidents, including what can only be described as a coercive action where the ministry threatened at the last minute to withhold funding for our March friendly against Panama unless the TTFA accepted responsibility for a $625,000 travel bill authorized by the Ministry in 2014, have created an environment that is not conducive to working together on behalf of our national footballers and technical staff.

Since the new TTFA administration took office, we have confronted numerous fiscal challenges inherited from the previous TTFF administrations with a solid plan to address the financial health of the organization.

We have managed to successfully engage in an aggressive debt reduction effort that has seen TTFA debt reduced from the $36 million that was met to currently $13 million in the space of 18 months.

We have engaged KPMG to restart their efforts in organizing TTFF audit reports; which were discontinued in 2008 and have authorized our audit partners to publish the completed reports from 2008 – 2014, which will be a first for the organization.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Women's World Cup Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

At the end of July, the TTFA will unveil its new brand, Socawarriors, to the public and the purpose will be utilize the revenue stream developed from Socawarriors gear sales to support national team players and technical staff in an effort to further reduce our dependence on government to compensate the two most vital pillars of the football family.

The TTFA has continuously stated its desire to work with the Ministry of Sport as a partner in advancing our football on the international level. We are hopeful the Minister can recall his days as a national footballer pushing to solicit support from the government, private sector, and the governing body for the benefit of his teammates.

Minister Sancho is now in the position to assist the TTFA in providing the same benefits and opportunities to current national team players he sought in his playing days.

It is our hope that patriotism above politics will win out and the spirit of cooperation will prevail for the advancement of football, the game we all love, in Trinidad and Tobago.

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)

TTFA’s Use of CONCACAF Travel Fund and Gold Cup Advance (USD)

Match fees: $33,000.00

Baggage Charges: $1,493.74

Insurance: $1,744.37

Visa Payments: $4,192.50

Ground Transportation: $2,546.87

Meals: $1,269.60

Medical Supplies: $5,950.31

Travel Kit: $2,851.25

Lodging: $5,112.50

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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201 comments

  1. So Sancho admitting the debt was written off? Very he says then the case is not closed and the TTFA still owe the players ?

    Sancho is a damn ass

  2. Bruce Aanensen and Kendall Tull, this was from Sancho’s press conference yesterday about the TTFA work in wiping off debt:

    “But Mr Tim-Kee likes to take the credit rather than accept responsibility. He says TTFA have reduced debts by $23 million. Well, then show us, Mr Tim-Kee. To my knowledge, $18 million of that debt was to the SocaWarriors and was wiped off by the Government. But, of course, Mr Tim-Kee would never admit that. The rest was paid with FIFA grants supposed to be used for grass roots development.”

  3. Unfortunately Chandani, the very good people drafted the new constitution, and are developing an implementation plan, but the TTFA Executive will likely be the same people as presently exist who have a proven track record in poor implementation. Quality staff, suitably qualified are needed to make implementation possible, but no one wants to work in a place where they may not get paid at the end of the month.

  4. Let us vote this pp government out and let them know what time it is. Shame on you Brent sancho

  5. I may be wrong, but I’m sensing an attempt to make to equate running the financial affairs of the TTFA and running the financial affairs of the PNM. I know people still bear scars from the recent experiences with Jack Warner and the TTFA/UNC, but let me point out its not the same. If anyone is honest they have to agree, the PNM is NOT run like the UNC. The PNM is a 60 yr old party with a system of accountability unlike any other party in TnT. Also, what Jack was able to do under Kamla, Tim Kee cannot do under Rowley. So how the TTFA is run, is not how the PNM is run. I challenge anyone to show otherwise.
    Also, if Tim Kee is made Minister of Sport, (I know where people pulled that one from, but I’ll play along) Rowley is not Kamla.
    So, criticize Tim Kee for anything in the TTFA- even though he’s dealing with an ass of a lil boy trying to do a hatchet job- but to try to equate this to his responsibilities in the PNM shows people do not understand the PNM’s structure. That’s why Jack had to go to the UNC, he couldn’t do that in the PNM.

  6. The very fact that there was a change in the constitution for the better, and the very fact that “many were very good people,” shows things have changed and moving forward. Not so?

  7. Bruce i hear you but think it will be up to us/ the Fans to make sure they’re held accountable as everything looks good on paper.

  8. We need some people with the time and the inclination to identify for us the changes in the constitution. There were many very good people drafting the new constitution but I remain concerned as to whether there will be proper implementation of the changes and could we understand how these changes will ensure significant improvements in the day to day administration of our football.
    In most things in this country we are great in conceptualizing the way forward, but lack the will and the skill to implement. Can the TTFA show us an implementation plan to effectively make the changes to bring our football administration up to International standards?

  9. I wouldn’t hope for much transparency and accountability Bruce. Does he even take Lasana’s phone calls these days?

  10. We need to know what we’re the debts totaling US$6m and what were the ones paid, where did the funds come from? Lasana can pose the question and hope for an answer.

  11. Read the interview. He was not questioned as to why he has not sought to recover the missing funds as advised by the judge. I found this curious:

    “Debt Reduction – In just over two years, he took $6 million USD in debt and reduced it to $2 million.”

    Can’t help but wonder where the funds came from (US $4M is not chump change) and who the funds were paid to. It wasn’t the unpaid coaches.

  12. No probs Savitri. Yuh know how i farce.

  13. I was gonna ask that, but I thought I’d be pushing it…thanks Debbie

  14. Glad you went to support Antonio Feliziano. We could do with more like you there and here. As Hart pointed out no one expected them to win any matches and he was pleased for the young players who placed their faith in him and vice versa. Yuh know how we Trinis quick to pong without looking at the broader picture. Lets continue the support and “hopefully” the impasse will be resolved for the betterment of the game.

  15. There is hope Kendall lol. This past weekend in Chicago, Kyle Lequay went looking for every T&T supporter in the stadium to acknowledge them for coming out and supporting the team. I appreciated that and the fact that he chatted with me and my family for a few minutes about what they hope to achieve etc.

  16. Antonio name the few please.

  17. They all have to go. Raze it to the ground and rebuild from scratch.

  18. I just want to say that there are some good people inside the current TTFA trying to do the best in the current situation and hopefully they will do well.

  19. Just had a read of Tim Kee’s interview which Antonio shared. My, my. Didn’t realize he, Tim Kee i.e was such a good spin doctor but then again he’s in insurance. The man running for sainthood next. Oui papa!

  20. I knew it was just a matter of time before this got out of hand. Why didn’t people see the conflict of interest in appointing him. Here you have a man being directly responsible for funding an organization that he was previously suing. It was bound to be personal

  21. yeah i shoulda realized that earlier too lol..there was one higher up called Jennifer Yearwood. lol

  22. But I doh think you need to explain anything….we tend to spot the trolls very early on… But we all bash Tim Kee at some point, I can’t ever remember me not doing it, so am I UNC as well? Hhmm….

  23. LOL..honestly I couldn’t even name a UNC support group. I think the only FB groups I’m in (by invite I must say) is the Wired ones, quite a few football ones and Speak Out TT. When I get time ill go open the side of my newsfeed and see what else I got myself into.

  24. Well I feel like an orphan here eh

  25. I asked a question mr. That’s all next time you posting on UNC support groups, use a different ne. Anyway, let’s not hijack a great thread

  26. What does that have to do with commenting here? Hhmm..

  27. just fabulous (thanks for asking). anyway you think you’re doing something by saying where i live?..steups

  28. Guys, let us put a pin in this for a moment, and ask ourselves a simple question….If u were the Sports Minister, what would you do? And let us forget the politics in our responses ok?

  29. That is my name. I just pointing out the obvious. How is Minn.?

  30. Miss Boodoo,(if that’s your real name) so why you singling me out for my so called political leanings? lol

  31. I repeat i have no problem with Sancho going after Tim Kee but he was a recipient of bailout money from the government and like “Powers” i noticed he didn’t give any back so morally does he have a leg to stand on? Just asking.

  32. Maybe. Tim Kee hire a man just because he is a black Muslim

  33. Same fishes in different bowls Chandani

  34. I taking 101 Tim Kees and 201 Phillips over Jack, Griden and Camps or one Brent Sancho

  35. Oh ok,,,,I dodidn’ know that, but suspected something of the sort. So we gonna be playing football soon with the acronyms now?

  36. here is Tim Kee’s interview earlier this month on socawarriors.net http://www.socawarriors.net/forum/index.php?topic=64564.0

  37. Antonio all from up North where you are your support is obvious.

  38. I don’t know if you’re privy to all that has taken place…doh beat up on Sanko for taking on Tim Kee nah, I wanna see who will blink first.

  39. yeah Bruce I knew that but I mentioned it for those who didn’t know that was the case 😉

  40. Not sure Savitri but surely not now with three major international tournaments underway and why the hell all the previous Ministers of Sport didn’t go after him. All Kamla wanted to do was pappy show with the Women’s teams and Sancho i didn’t see Sancho giving back any of the Gov’t bail out money. Ent??

  41. Deb, Sanko experience this mess and inherited it as Sports Minister. I don’t know his rationale behind his actions, but someone needs to pull the TTFA into line and expose the thieves for who they are.

  42. So you do not know that the change from TTFA to TTFF was a plan to get rid of TTFA debts? Now they gone back to get rid of TTFF debts.

  43. When is good timing Deb? When the TTFA can’t organise warm up matches?

  44. Debbie Espinal I feel your pain, but maybe having three teams competing is a blessing in this situation, as the TTFA is forced to respond.

  45. Savitri my concern is for the game. Sancho used to live in my house when he was playing for the Under 23’s and i know him well. I’m just disgusted that they’re literally playing political football while we have three teams representing us and have to be hearing shit like this and expecting them to focus. He has every right to take TTFA to task and i hold no brief for Tim Kee et al but bad timing. It’s like a lil position gone to his head and he forgot from whence he came.

  46. plus it have the TTFF and TTFA play on names scenario just like Concacaf and C.O.N.C.A.C.A.F

  47. My point exactly Bruce. Kendall, alzheimers?