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Tim Kee refuses Sancho meeting; accused of using footballers as political pawns

Sport Minister Brent Sancho has accused Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and, by extension, the opposition PNM party of using national football players as political pawns, as the ill-will between the two bodies appeared to reach a new low in midweek.

Photo: TTFA president and Port of Spain Mayor 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 and Port of Spain Mayor 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)

Sancho alleged that, on Wednesday morning, Tim Kee, who is also the PNM treasurer and Port of Spain Mayor, came to the Sport Ministry and stayed only long enough to say that he would not meet the Minister. Then he left.

Remarkably, the meeting was meant to finalise issues related to payment for the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team and Men’s Under-23 Team, as well as to discuss the upcoming Russia 2018 World Cup campaign and the Women’s Under-17 and Under-20 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifiers.

“The PS (Gillian Macintyre) told me that Tim Kee didn’t want to meet  (with me) because I have a litigative matter against him,” Sancho told Wired868. “I found it odd since there were matters that needed urgent attention. They have athletes out there (at the Toronto Pan American Games) who are not receiving money and threatening to strike but they are showing no urgency. It took their representatives two weeks to come in and meet with us.

“We had worked on a projected budget for the 2018 World Cup that we wanted to discuss (with the TTFA) as the campaign is about to begin…”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (centre) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammates (from right) Cordell Cato, Joevin Jones, Mekeil Williams and Aubrey David in the 2015 Gold Cup. (Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (centre) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammates (from right) Cordell Cato, Joevin Jones, Mekeil Williams and Aubrey David in the 2015 Gold Cup.
(Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)

Wired868 tried repeatedly to contact Tim Kee without success. TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips accompanied Tim Kee to the Sport Ministry on Wednesday but did not want to discuss their meeting.

“I would rather you get those answers from Raymond,” said Phillips. “Anything regarding what took place in that meeting, I would rather come from him.”

Wired868 asked if he denied the Sport Minister’s account regarding Tim Kee’s stated refusal to meet with him.

“No,” said Phillips.

Tim Kee’s alleged refusal to meet Sancho was notable for several reasons:

The Sport Ministry pays all the TTFA’s coaches and funds its various teams;

At least four active national football teams rely on State funding at present;

The 2006 World Cup bonus dispute has not been before the courts in over two years and is dormant;

Photo: Former 2006 World Cup player Kelvin Jack (centre) embraces TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee in May 2013. Looking on are teammates (from right) David Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray and Brent Sancho. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Former 2006 World Cup player Kelvin Jack (centre) embraces TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee in May 2013.
Looking on are teammates (from right) David Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray and Brent Sancho.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Tim Kee has officially met Sancho on many previous occasions while the court case was in exactly the same position;

The current “Soca Warriors” captain Kenwyne Jones is also a litigant against the TTFA and was the football body’s 2013 Player of the Year despite the unresolved court case;

And, it was Tim Kee who requested the meeting with the Sport Ministry on Wednesday, after initially failing to respond to an invitation from the Ministry for over a week.

In the midst of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, Tim Kee surprised the Warriors technical staff and Ministry of Sport by endorsing a press release that accused Sancho of bullying the football body and poisoning relations between the two entities.

Sancho, who will contest the Toco/Sangre Grande seat at the General Elections on September 7, said he suspects that dirty politics are at play.

Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) shakes hands with Fuego defender Ermelinda “Linda” Pantaleao before the opening Women's Premier League (WPL) game in St James. (Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)
Photo: Sport Minister Brent Sancho (centre) shakes hands with Fuego defender Ermelinda “Linda” Pantaleao before the opening Women’s Premier League (WPL) game in St James.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)

“I am suspicious about what is transpiring (because) why would you not want to have discussions when you have players who are basically stranded?” asked Sancho. “The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that Raymond is trying to use the athletes as political pawns.

“When you listen to what is being said on the political platform where (PNM candidate) Camille Robinson-Regis is talking about Central FC (a Pro League club formerly run by Sancho) and me hating football. And suddenly Raymond doesn’t want to sit down to try to solve things for the TTFA’s benefit…

“It doesn’t correlate… Or maybe they do not want to tell us what happened to the CONCACAF money.”

The last TTFA press release, which targeted the Sport Minister’s behaviour, followed Sancho’s suggestion that the football body received Gold Cup appearance money, which was undeclared to the Ministry.

“The whole thing started when we found out they got US$100,000 and didn’t tell us about it,” said Sancho. “They did a pie chart after that which said that US$33,000 was spent on match fees. But over the past six months, we paid every single match fee and stipend (for the TTFA).

“So where did that money really go?”

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)

Phillips confirmed that the TTFA did collect Gold Cup preparation funding but insisted the body did nothing untoward and can account for its spending.

On Friday afternoon, there was another surprise for the Ministry of Sport as the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team jetted off to St Vincent for CFU action without State funding.

“I found it a bit strange that they didn’t ask for funding for the (Women’s) Under-20 Team because, over the course of this year, we have paid for every single team that left these shores barring the TTOC’s teams,” Sancho told Wired868. “We have paid 90 percent of the operation cost for all national teams, including travel, accommodation, coaches’ salaries and match fees.

“All of a sudden, despite saying they spent all the money they received from CONCACAF and the fact that the General Secretary said they only had TT$30,000 in their account just over a month ago, they found the money to send their team to St Vincent.

“How much money did they really receive from Concacaf?”

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)

Sancho said the Ministry of Sport will do its best to ensure that football does not suffer as a result of his soured relations with Tim Kee. However, he suggested that the process of supporting national football teams might be slowed as a result.

“I think he is trying to provoke a fight but I am going to continue to pay the athletes and the staff,” Sancho told Wired868. “I will pay the Gold Cup team and Pan Am teams as we said we would. And then we want to see how they spent (their Gold Cup money).

“I was hoping we could have some mature discussion but, if he refuses to meet with me, I don’t see how we can move forward. It is hard to tell what happens now as we were trying to meet to put forward some sort of resolution and direction.”

The “Women Soca Warriors” begin their 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign next month while the Men’s Senior Team plays Mexico in an international friendly on September 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goal scorer Mariah Shade (centre) celebrates with teammates Kennya Cordner (right) and Brianna Ryce during their 2-2 draw with Argentina at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goal scorer Mariah Shade (centre) celebrates with teammates Kennya Cordner (right) and Brianna Ryce during their 2-2 draw with Argentina at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

It is uncertain if the funding for either event will be jeopardised by the TTFA’s apparent position at present. Or if, like with the Women’s Under-20 Team, the football body proves that it can be resourceful when necessary.

The September 7 general elections and the TTFA’s internal elections, tentatively carded for November, are likely to have an important bearing on the future administrative relationship between the two bodies.

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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27 comments

  1. Brent Sanko, I mean Sancho, take your time to learn, you now start.

  2. DA Porter, I agree me with you. Certainly, the goodly Minister has not learnt that “RESPECT IS EARNED” Poor child, power has gone to his head, he is really using his defunct Office as a battle ground. SMH

  3. If the man is being beaten with a vendetta stick I do not fault him in this regard. As a matter of fact, I may be wrong but I remember reading(may be wrong)that the goodly minister had requested that the TTFA account for all monies it utilizes, this includes FIFA grants. Unless this is done, he as minister will cut govt funding. On the surface it sounds good, but we must give Jack his jacket. (No not that Jack). FIFA despite all going on internationally, remains an independent body and such must be respected. What the minister has to do is propose legislation that would have ANY independent organization operating in this country have accounts be audited yearly and its findings be publicly published. He must not use politics to win his private battles. The TTFA President operates in T&T but is FIFA obligated not to you Mr. Minister.

    • Excellent point. On the other hand, the Sport Minister answers to taxpayers and not to FIFA. So there is bound to be friction from time to time.

    • Lasana lets just say the Sport minister “supposed” to answer to taxpayers but that we know that is another story. All the same having our dollars accounted for is very important but our dollars not others. Regardless who is in government their policy should be to facilitate these bodies who are charged with the development of the various sporting disciplines. It is no coincidence that almost all bodies complain of being poorly funded. Should that fall to taxpayers wholesomely? Are they not the same family members that did the initial investment on their own on an individual level? Small groups/clubs/org in this country are regularly told to fund raise, when seeking assistance(personal experience) hence the car-washes, bar-B-ques’ etc.(You know). When ministers fly out or visiting dignitaries and investors fly in, it is the job of govt to facilitate the meeting of these groups of people and the various bodies. Investment is not only about the businessmen and manufacturers. Who ever thought that foolishness truly explains the sorry situation we’re in re: sport and financing. No government has yet seen it fit to properly facilitate these bodies to become independent and hopefully self-sufficient. They must learn to market their products both players and the sport itself. Our government should not be in the business subsidizing what is a viable commodity the world over. These are sporting bodies, corporate T&T needs to come to the party or be by-passed by foreign corporations seeking to invest in our potential, the government’s job via the minister is to facilitate said objective. Time to stop babysitting these bodies and wean them off the public purse.

    • But when a sporting body proves to be incapable of taking care of itself or even trying, the Gov’t is then faced with a choice. Keep babysitting. Or watch its athletes suffer.
      And that is a tough choice to be faced with. It is fairly obvious that Raymond Tim Kee would be perfectly fine whether or not a national youth team makes it to a tournament, for instance.

    • As we have seen, especially with the ladies teams,sad but true. However there is another choice, as govt they can host professionals who would train/show locals how to run and administrate properly. This can be done partnering with the right people. We see similar patterns of nonchalant behaviour in the WICB.(Imagine the president announcing that WI may not make Champions cup, when its due to lack of matches played). That is why govt’s should bring legislation to set guidelines on how these “independent ” bodies operate in our countries in order to protect our athletes. They may be independent but need countries to be viable. Where would FIFA , WICB be if countries refuse to facilitate national teams?

  4. You talking about using footballer…the onlys thing the pp ent use for political mileage is the stray dogs and cats.

  5. THESE PEOPLE WANT ME TO SCREAM BLOODY MURDER. DO THEY REALISE THAT THE PLAYERS ARE GOING TO SUFFER AND BE DISTRESSED WHILE THEY SOUND LIKE CHILDREN IN THE SCHOOL YARD ” I NOT TALKING TO YOU BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE YOU”
    GENTLEMEN PLEASE GROW UP AND SHOW THE YOUTH A PROPER EXAMPLE OF HOW LEADERS SUPPOSE TO ACT. COUNTRY FIRST PLEASE AND SELF AFTER.

  6. Political pawns is right. Don’t see this battle ending until either men leave their office.

  7. Yeah but wat did he he do with the things he take from TTFF

  8. wait…… hear who talking about using footballers as pawns!

  9. wait…… hear who talking about using footballers as pawns!

  10. This WC bonus issue is dormant… Sancho wants to meet to get things in order for the wcq and the man walk out the meeting? Sabotage if you ask me… The longer TK plays these games the less prep we will have and less friendlies…

  11. But isn’t that the exact thing that Sancho is trying to do? ( end the bullshit) .According to the story above?

  12. Can men do such a thing… EGO is a hell of a thing

  13. Why can’t these two separate their personal feelings from their professional judgement?

  14. I tell ya eh. Maybe all the teams can register as women under-20..lol

  15. They only measuring their dicks to see who has the longer tool while players suffer.

  16. These two mother truckers need to sort out their shit so the players can concentrate on qualifying for Russia 2018.

  17. Anything with Sancho just just makes me order a new supply of popcorn.

  18. Sigh. Football remains on thin ice for the foreseeable future. I can imagine the reaction of national football players and coaches as they read this.

  19. This tit for tat crap has got to stop. These two are grown ass men and I’m truly fed up of this game they are playing with our athletes. It’s not about party politics, personal vendettas or who is more man than whom (Lasana will bouff me if I really say what’s on my mind). It’s about the players and those who are in both the technical and coaching staff. Sit down like some MATURE grown men and deal. Converse with respect and love for the sport or I swear I’ll put them both in a ring to bitch slap each other