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Bitch better have my money! Warriors respond to Sancho/Tim Kee impasse

The “Soca Warriors”, who just booked their place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals for just the third time in the country’s history, are not bumping their heads to Maximus Dan’s “I am a Fighter” these days.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) congratulates scorer Sheldon Bateau (right) after his Gold Cup goal against Cuba. Looking on is Andre Boucaud who scored the Soca Warriors' second goal in a 2-0 win in Phoenix. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) congratulates scorer Sheldon Bateau (right) after his Gold Cup goal against Cuba.
Looking on is Andre Boucaud who scored the Soca Warriors’ second goal in a 2-0 win in Phoenix.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

R&B star Rihanna’s “Bitch better have my money” is said to be the track of choice among many of the players.

Trinidad and Tobago lead Group C, after successive wins over Guatemala and Cuba, and can top the group with a win or draw against Mexico tomorrow. They will have to do so without not only suspended midfielder Andre Boucaud but also injured team vice-captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams.

Williams looks set to be ruled out for three weeks after a hamstring injury suffered in the first match against Cuba. It means the Central FC custodian would miss the rest of the Gold Cup as well as his club’s opening CONCACAF Champions League fixture away to Steven Gerrard’s LA Galaxy on August 6

If the Warriors finish atop Group C tomorrow, they will almost certainly face Panama in the quarterfinal round in New Jersey on Sunday. Should they lose to Mexico, they will probably meet Costa Rica in the knockout round instead.

Trinidad and Tobago’s most successful Gold Cup was in 2000 when coach Bertille St Clair led a team that boosted the likes of Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy, David Nakhid, Jerren Nixon and the late Mickey Trotman to the semifinal round, where they were edged 1-0 by Canada.

Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan waves his flag during their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup fixture against Cuba in Phoenix. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan waves his flag during their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup fixture against Cuba in Phoenix.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

However, with history beckoning, Trinidad and Tobago’s Gold Cup team was again distracted by off-field matters.

On Sunday, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips issued a press release that accused Sport Minister Brent Sancho of spreading malicious and misleading information and attempting to bully the football body.

And, yesterday, Sancho responded by accusing Tim Kee of mismanagement, dishonesty and disrespect towards the TTFA’s major sponsor.

“They will not be funded,” said Sancho. “Unless they can account for where our funds will go.”

The conflict has not gone unnoticed within the Warriors camp.

This morning, team captain Kenwyne Jones shared Sancho’s response on social media and referred to the feud with two posts.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain and forward Kenwyne Jones (left) accelerates past Cuba midfielder Daniel Luis during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain and forward Kenwyne Jones (left) accelerates past Cuba midfielder Daniel Luis during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

“We play we fight… support from the relevant body? Still outstanding smfh.”

Jones followed that up with:

“So while the feud continues, the football suffers, note TT anytime we fall short in something it always a funding issue, if this doesn’t stop it can be the end of progress…

“Egos aside put the football first… or leave the relevant offices held.”

Warriors manager William Wallace admitted that there was some anxiety in the camp since, unlike the 2013 Gold Cup, players are not receiving match fees after each game as they are still awaiting funding from the Sport Ministry.

And Wallace revealed that, for the first time in a Gold Cup tournament, the TTFA did not offer win bonuses or financial incentives for qualifying for the quarterfinal, semifinal or even winning the entire thing.

“The last time we left Trinidad with US (dollars) so we got paid after each game,” Wallace told Wired868. “Now, I am trying to get a lump sum payment after the three group games. I hope we can get it done…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams is helped on to the stretcher by physio Saron Joseph during their Gold Cup fixture against Cuba. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams is helped on to the stretcher by physio Saron Joseph during their Gold Cup fixture against Cuba.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

“We were not able to negotiate win bonuses due to financial constraints. Based on the budget we are working with, we are barely able to deal with match fees at this point in time.”

The TTFA relies almost entirely on the Ministry of Sport for its funding and was not able to raise money otherwise to pay its staff and players.

Wallace was much more tactful in his response to the Government’s relationship with the Warriors.

“With all that is happening on the political front, I would still like to thank the Ministry of Sport and the new PS (Gillian MacIntyre) who has been extremely professional in her approach in dealing with me,” said Wallace. “At this point in time, the Ministry of Sport is the only bearing tree, so we cannot cut it down.

“It might not be bearing as quickly or as prolifically as we would like it to be. But that is what we have…”

Sancho reiterated today that the Sport Ministry will honour its commitments to the Warriors as well as the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Women’s Team, which is competing in the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games at present.

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)

However, the Sport Minister did not promise any assistance to the TTFA beyond that, which would include the Warriors’ Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Sancho’s own political survival would depend on the polls as the country’s general elections will be held on September 7.

A TTFA insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, defended the timing of the press release, which slammed the Sport Minister’s behaviour.

“We have sat back for a while as the ministry at various times has levelled some misdirected allegations knowing that the organisation is still feeling the effects and negative impact of the Warner years,” he said. “So if something critical about us sounds plausible, even if it turns out to be untrue at closer look, the damage is done.

“And the ministry comes out looking like heroes in a situation they created.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr (right) wins a header against Cuba forward Maikel Reyes during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr (right) wins a header against Cuba forward Maikel Reyes during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

However, in the United States, Wallace said the Warriors technical staff felt the weekend release was part and parcel of the election season and they were concerned about its timing.

Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor, is the treasurer of the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) party.

“The staff was questioning whether (the TTFA release) was necessary at that time,” Wallace told Wired868. “But it is politician against politician and we are in that season, so I suppose it is expected.

“As the African saying goes: when the elephants fight it is only the grass that suffers. But my focus is on the players and staff and I will not allow anything to derail that.”

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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64 comments

  1. each player will get TT$1,000,000 for a grand total of TT$23,000,000 from the government who could not have afforded a US$60,000 TV rights which could of been funded through advertising rights #brilliance

  2. Do they deserve a bonus for getting to the next round?

  3. Never seen a football game played in an office or Parliament. Bottom line: no footballers = no football. Give our athletes their due !

  4. Never seen a football game played in an office or Parliament. Bottom line: no footballers = no football. Give our athletes their due !

  5. Jones and the players have been assured they will receive the money afterwards… so it shouldn’t be a problem.. if it was left up to the ttfa they wouldn’t get a red cent

  6. A change is going to come Sept 7 come out and vote

  7. And our Women are doing great at the PanAm Games… draw with Argentina and then Colombia!!!!! Something happy for a change in our football world!!!! 🙂

  8. The manipulation here is fairly plain to see. Sherwood’s explanation of assisting citizens who play for their country is exactly what Tim Kee and the ttfa is banking on ….he’s using that and redirecting the fact that the ministry is reluctant to fund as a personal thing whereas, Sancho is reluctant to fund an entity like the ttfa but does not want to let down the athletes. Who’s playing who? The ttfa upcoming elections is a significant event in the footballing status of the country because I suspect for us to move forward Tim Kee should not be heading this organisation.

  9. I feel I’ve got my job to do as a journalist no matter who gets in there. So I don’t think so Kyon Esdelle.
    Need a man to call it straight from the outside. 😉

  10. I agree with you Anthony Sherwood. My point is only that there is a difference between assistance or bankrolling the whole thing.
    Every citizen should bring something to the table and have the Govt assist where he falls short.
    I have a problem with the State paying for everything. Higher in the thread we said that we didn’t expect a body to be totally self sufficient.
    Although it should be the ideal and I do think it is possible to run a business without dipping into the treasury.

  11. Lasana Liburd u never thought of running for office?