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T&T U-23s threaten to boycott final Pan Am game over owed money

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-23 Team has vowed to boycott its final 2015 Pan American Games fixture against Mexico unless the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) provides written assurance that they will be paid outstanding match fees and stipends.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (left) drives the ball into the opposing penalty area while St Lucia player Romiel Felix looks on during the senior 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying stage. Jones is the captain of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones (left) drives the ball into the opposing penalty area while St Lucia player Romiel Felix looks on during the senior 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying stage.
Jones is the captain of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The young “Soca Warriors” are due to kick off against Mexico from 5.35 pm at the Hamilton Pan America Soccer Stadium in Toronto.

The Warriors were already eliminated from the Pan Am competition last week after conceding nine goals while scoring just once in heavy defeats to Uruguay (4-0) and Paraguay (5-1) respectively.

It copped a miserable campaign for the Under-23 Team, which was booted out of the 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign after just two matches as the young men lost 5-3 to St Vincent and the Grenadines before routing Puerto Rico 5-0.

But the results tell only half the story, as the Warriors were constantly blighted by managerial and funding issues, which often denied coach Zoran Vranes the chance to use his strongest team or benefit from live-in camps and practice matches.

Wired868 was informed last night that the Under-23 players decided they had endured enough.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup. Gomez missed the 2016 Olympic qualifying series due to travel document issues. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
Gomez missed the 2016 Olympic qualifying series due to travel document issues.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“(The Under-23 squad) was promised US$500 a game but still haven’t received a cent,” said the team member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Not even per diems! In fact, when (the players) travelled to Puerto Rico, there was an overnight in Panama and there was not even money for dinner.

“The players have decided not to accept the TTFA’s empty promises any longer and are not going to play unless there is something in writing from the Sport Ministry.”

Not counting per diems, the TTFA already owes the Under-23 players up to US$2,000 each while staff members are due US$2,800 for the four fixtures thus far.

The “Women Soca Warriors”, who drew with Argentina and Colombia and lost to Mexico at the Pan Am Games, have also gone without a per diem for the competition. And at least one player informed Wired868 that the squad is furious at the perceived ill-treatment meted out by the football body and is considering mutiny for next month’s Olympic qualifiers.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Ahkeela Mollon (left) climbs over Argentina defender Nerina Garcia during their 2-2 Pan American Games tie in Toronto. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Ahkeela Mollon (left) climbs over Argentina defender Nerina Garcia during their 2-2 Pan American Games tie in Toronto.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The Under-23s have vowed to make the first move. It would take frantic late negotiations if they are to get any letter of comfort from the Ministry of Sport.

TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips confirmed the players’ position and claimed the football body was trying to appease them.

“We spoke with players earlier today and they essentially want some comfort their fees will be paid,” said Phillips, via a text message. “I sent a message to the Ministry of Sport (yesterday) evening to inquire whether we can receive assurance that we will have access to the subvention in order to pay the Pan Am players.

“No response so far.”

However, Sport Minister Brent Sancho said he was not aware of any request by the TTFA for assistance on behalf of the young Warriors yesterday.

Worse, Sancho said the TTFA had effectively cut off communication with the Government since its press release, on July 12, which accused the Sport Minister of poisoning the relationship between the two 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)

“I haven’t heard about any request (yesterday),” Sancho told Wired868. “We have written to (TTFA president Raymond) Tim Kee to come in and sit with us, a week or two ago, to discuss all football-related matters and we haven’t had any response.

“We are sending a follow up request (today).”

Phillips denied that the TTFA was not communicating with the Ministry of Sport while Wired868 was also shown correspondence from the football body, which requested help to avert a potential strike from the Under-23 squad.

The Ministry had agreed in principle to meet half of the US$500 stipend promised to the the Under-23 outfit and Women Warriors but said it needed to formally discuss various TTFA requests with Tim Kee, who is also treasurer for the opposition PNM party.

“As far as I can recall, (the TTFA) said some of the money they received from CONCACAF would have been disbursed its other teams,” said Sancho. “So what has happened to that money?”

In the TTFA’s last release, the football body said it spent US$25,161.14 (TT$159,000) on “travel-related expenses” for the men’s senior and Under-23 teams and the women’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams.

These expenses were said to include: US visa payments, lodging, excess baggage fees, medical supplies for travel and insurance.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (left) eludes Panama midfielder Miguel Camargo during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (left) eludes Panama midfielder Miguel Camargo during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis was unaware of a threatened strike by the football players but said his organisation will do everything in its power to: “communicate with the players the importance of them honouring their playing obligations.”

Lewis said he had full confidence in the TTOC staff, which is led by chef de mission and assistant secretary general Diane Henderson, to handle any situation that might arise.

“The TTOC can’t stay out of (since) the team is under the authority of the TTOC until they land back in Trinidad,” Lewis told Wired868. “I think once the players understand that it is TTOC and not TTFA, they will wait until they get back to address their TTFA issues.

“It is clear that the TTOC will have to discuss Toronto 2015 with the TTFA… My priority (now) is ensuring the players are properly advised and informed in respect of TTOC policies and procedures.”

The TTOC handles 180 athletes from 14 different sporting disciplines at the Pan American Games. Travel, accommodation and meals are provided for participants while, for the first time, a performance-based medal bonus has been put in place.

It does not pay stipends or match fees, though.

Photo: TTOC president Brian Lewis (right) and NAAA president Ephraim Serrette. (Courtesy NAAA/LoopTT)
Photo: TTOC president Brian Lewis (right) and NAAA president Ephraim Serrette.
(Courtesy NAAA/LoopTT)

“Sporting bodies need to address the sustainability of their funding model,” said Lewis. “Before you make financial commitments, you have to be clear how you are going to honour your commitments.”

The Under-23 Warriors would like to know how the TTFA plans to honour its commitments to them. Several players were part of the National Under-20 Team that was never paid stipends promised for participation at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica.

The TTFA, TTOC and Under-23 footballers have less than 18 hours to come to an agreement.

(Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team)

Goalkeepers: 18.Jovan Sample, 1.Montell Joseph;

Defenders: 2.Shannon Gomez, 16.Alvin Jones (captain), 3.Maurice Ford, 4.Jesus Perez, 8.Tristan Hodge, 14.Jelani Felix, 5.Dario Holmes;

Midfielders: 17.Aikim Andrews, 10.Duane Muckette, 7.Jomal Williams, 9.Nathaniel Garcia, 6.Neveal Hackshaw, 12.Xavier Rajpaul, 15.Neil Benjamin;

Forwards: 13.Ricardo John, 11.Shackiel Henry.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 coach Zoran Vranes (left) and right back Shannon Gomez. (Courtesy: Allan Powder/Wired868).
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 coach Zoran Vranes (left) and right back Shannon Gomez.
(Courtesy: Allan Powder/Wired868).

Staff: Zoran Vranes (coach), David Muhammad (manager), Gilbert Bateau (assistant coach/trainer), Michael Taylor (physio), Esmond O’ Brien (equipment manager), Nigel Neverson (goalkeeper coach).

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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52 comments

  1. What really going on with our sport administrators ?

  2. They claimed they had corporate sponsorship for him and Hart then. I hope Hart notice how that left with beenie

  3. That’s exactly right Kenneth Ransome

  4. Lasana Liburd, All this money commess and bacchanal is so confusing! If I am not mistaken, wasn’t TTFA ready to pay Leo Beenhakker a lucrative monthly salary in 2013 or 2012? From whose account was that salary going to be drawn? How could they have money for him and none for the players and local coaches? Or do I have my information on this issue twisted?

    • The money was to come from the MoS under Anil… who promised to pay the salaries of the coaching staff. He reneged on the promise, some of the coaches weren’t paid and Leo rode off in solidarity, still being owed salary himself.

  5. Well that’s true. There was not a specific promise for them and that was really what the boys were trying to get.

  6. Lasana…but at least the girls got the promise for the Min. of Sport as opposed to the TTFA. I am not sure Sancho mentioned helping any other age group teams when he promised Ministry help for the women after saying “I met with the the TTFA on several occasions and not once did they mention money for the women’s team”.

  7. Smfh. Nonsense only stops if everybody taking the crap decides to stop taking it.

    • And would you believe T&T is leading Mexico 1-0…

    • NOOOOOOO! How dare they? Then that would be oh so embarrassing to the country Chabeth Haynes…and you know what happens when ineptness and the truth are aired publicly? People get blacklisted to be taught a lesson in knowing their place apparently! I want to see when no one wants to represent their country what would happen…but as Lasana said..footballers always want to play..and that’s what administrators strive and prey on… But I agree with you wholeheartedly!

  8. And then we wonder why eligible foreign players aren’t interested in representing T & T and why our football has been stagnated for some time.

  9. IN any case, this issue was brewing even before Muhammad. But it seems he was able to get a team out there.

  10. I do hope that good sense will prevail and the team honors their commitment to the Nation. We do not need this embarrassment . Is the Manager not a positive influence on his charges? Where is his power of persuasion? Are they not aware of the consequences? Please be sensible and sort out matters after the game.

  11. Kion S Williams, the girls didn’t get any money. They got a promise. The women are in exactly the same position as the Under-23 men and they are pretty mad too.

  12. Seeing messages on my page from people travelling to the game. Oh boy! They probably don’t even know what’s going down. That last game vs Paraguay took me three hours to get to Hamilton.

  13. I just don’t understand why they didn’t come out and talk when the girls did. The girls left a day before them and got their per diem sorted out. One would think the boys would know they were in the same situation

  14. Reports suggest that 12 players from the 18-man squad have agreed to play. So that is what they will travel with. More later

  15. Would someone do me a favour? I not good at math at all.
    Calculate the total cost of just the match fees for this team and officials (cuz you know they hadda get too) so for 22 persons, for this tournament, which is an average of 4 games once you don’t progress past the first round.
    Calculate in $US and when you get the figure, please come back and tell the rest of us.

  16. They’ll play. Hopefully they’ll pour everything into this. Nothing to lose . We’ll see.

  17. Footballers always want to play. It could be Grenada facing Germany and you are the goalkeeper with one leg… That’s why players rarely strike. They always want to play.
    So far, there has not change and the game is two and a half hours away. So I’m waiting for word.

  18. The saddest part is they’re not helping their cause. They’re taking some humiliating beatings. 3/0, 5/1 so far. They are probably not keen on facing Mexico.

  19. So I’m assuming that these young players are just doing the country a favor right… bess these fellas go look for another career yes… because TnT football is not profitable at all… These players dedicate time and their energy to this country… The country! And what about the Individual player? Yes agents see them, but how are they expected to earn a proper income when all their efforts are wasted in representing the “country” Then more than 70% pf the population wanna jump on a bandwagon in the last hour… Pay the people their money….

    • I agree with you star…..but you know what it is bro…these administrators feel it’s about them..and that they are doing them a favor by picking them (players)…plenty of these administrators and past players are jealous if athletes nowadays are earning more than they were /are(especially the younger ones)..They are of the belief that this should NEVER be so.I have heard past players saying that these players have it easy now and back in their time it was so much harder bla bla bla…So in other words it shouldn’t be easier for the newer generation…You think I want my children going through the same things I went through?? So why should the current crop have to go through hardship also? It’s that vicious cycle that only intelligent and strong willed people can break. And it is for this reason we are in this current situation…I REPEAT…. THE DINOSAURS MUST GO!!

  20. From the days the USA lost the 1988 Basketball finals at the Olympics and forced the IOC to allowed pro athletes to participate at the Olympics everything is about money. Its no longer playing for “Pride” of one country. I will not pay them one cent and let them boycott the game. The TTFA provided them with an opportunity to not only play the game, but to get contracts and make a living of the sport and the country must pay you to represent us…”NO WAY”. .

    • Pahahaha…So let me get this clear Keith Clement…you believe that professional athletes should play for free? Second question..do you think that the TTFA is doing these professional athletes a “favour” by picking them to represent their country? (there is a reason that they are picked Keith…because they are the best at what they do..unless we are in the habit of picking 2nd best athletes…and even they should be compensated) Is that what you are saying? Who is important here? The athletes or the administrators? Weren’t you the same person in charge of Basketball / Hoops of Life at one point? It seems that left up to you athletes under your watch would not get any type of compensatory package! It’s this type of dinosaur thinking that get’s us nowhere fast…Clearly you believe that athletes should simply play for pride and not be compensated for what they do..while YOU guys (administrators) get paid huh? I implore you to visit successful countries and see if they are run with that type of mentality…key word..SUCCESSFUL eh…and if you by chance reply that you have..then what have you learned in the process?? It seems we just need to get rid of ALL DINOSAURS in sport in this country! My goodness! When will this dotishness stop??

  21. Also lasana…these games are more to expose our players to international teams and opportunities for for scouts to have a look. ..the ttoc and the country is giving you that opportunity. …be wise and use the satge to make your country proud and to showcase your talent. …where are their advisors

  22. Agreed don’t think there should be any strike. …from my knowledge and playing days when there is TTOC involvement i woud not focus my energies on the financial aspect. ..if its a per diem then ok….we have to understand the nature of the events we play in for our country we need to understand the different organization and policies. ..amateur and professional….understand their concerns ….no strike needed for panam games. …

  23. Actually 15 of the 18 players on the squad are professionals Natasha Nunez.
    One of the biggest issues with the proposed strike is that they are representing the TTOC in Toronto and not the TTFA. And the implications might go beyond the football body.
    So compromise is likely.
    I think the issue is many of these players have been here before and never saw a cent. After their game today, the team will be disbanded and they have been tossed aside before with the football body failing to honour commitments.

    • Well I’m waiting to hear Natasha Nunez’ reply to that statistic Lasana…..people simply having opinions with little knowledge and facts..SMDH!! Or is it that she believes footballers ( or any athlete) shouldn’t be bothered about being paid what is promised to them,and should simply play for free because football is a fun sport and would be a fun thing to do? Double steups!!!

      • PS. While I don’t believe in a strike per se because of what further implications may transpire as a result( to do with TTOC)..one has to sympathise with these young men and why they would want to embark on such…how many times have they been lied to and taken for a ride with empty promises? It’s ironic that the ‘worker’ has the power to institute change but it seems to always have to come by somewhat drastic means/ measures when the administrators are dishonest,inept or corrupt. For anything to work smoothly there MUST be an honouring of the reached agreement on both sides. Any renege on the aforementioned almost always results in what is transpiring now. The players CANNOT be blamed!

  24. If you tell someone you going to pay them to do a job it’s only natural that they expect to be paid.

  25. Jevon Cox what is due to them? At Pan Am? Really? Have any other athletes been promised or received match fees? Per diem I can understand but match fees?
    Have either of the medalists at the Games been paid to jump in a pool or on a bike? No. The U23 footballers aren’t professionals. When last I checked, amateur athletes don’t get paid to play. And certainly not at a multisport event like the Pan Am Games.

    • They can be professional athletes in amateur games. Gosh, you should know the difference. you used to work in the MOS not so?

  26. Not likely Jevon. Put simply, it’s a trust issue.

  27. Debbie Espinal there no trust right now, mainly because of lack of transparency. I think if there at least published their accounts, people would more inclined to fund the TTFF.

  28. Natasha Nunez what are you talking about the guys are only asking for what is due to them. The fight is not with the athletes, but the administrators.

  29. What corporate sponsors will come on board having to deal with the likes of Tim Kee and his band of merry Men. Steups.

  30. Once the TTFF provide audited accounts, I would like to believe more cooperate sponsors would come on board.

  31. Why is it the ttfa is always redirecting to the ministry of sport?? Sheldon Phillips and Tim Kee you’re both embarrassments to your countries!!!!

    • Malik, read the thing again… the players said they would not play unless THEY got reassurances from the MoS. The TTFA then sought to get the assurances the players requested. They wanted those assurances (and needed them) to come from Sancho because the gov’t pledged money to pay the stipends, so only the gov’t could provide reassurances that the promise would be kept. Sanch said he wanted Tim Kee to come in and speak to him about how they spent the rest of the CONCACAF money before he paid the stipend. But yes… that too is the TTFA fault.

  32. Everybody wants the player to turn the other cheek are they not human ? Should they not be treated with respect as budding professionals ? These football lads and lasses have fulfilled their end of the contract and the TTFA has not so can Mr. Bruce Aanensen inform the players what course of action beside boycotting will ensure that the TTFA pay the monies that is owed ? Or should they turn the other cheek, save the TTFA from embarrassment and hope that’s President Mr. Tim Kee one day will pay…..

  33. Please Brian, get the players to understand their obligation to the country to play the game.
    Boycotting the game will only shift the focus to them. Remember what happened with the West Indies players in India.
    I feel for the players and staff but boycotting is NOT the answer. Players need to honor their obligations and let the supporters deal with the TTFA.