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TTFA vows to pay Warriors ‘as soon as practicable’; explains delay

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) promised to satisfy its debt to the men’s senior national players as “soon as it was practicable” but stopped short of giving a deadline for a resolution.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (centre) roars during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action in Guatemala City on 13 November 2015. Hyland scored in a 2-1 win for the "Soca Warriors." (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (centre) roars during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action in Guatemala City on 13 November 2015.
Hyland scored in a 2-1 win for the “Soca Warriors.”
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The TTFA executive committee, which is now headed by president David John-Williams, held an emergency meeting this evening to address a press release by team captain Kenwyne Jones, on behalf of his squad, which warned that the “Soca Warriors” will not travel to face Haiti in a Copa América Centenario Play Off on 8 January 2016 unless they were paid outstanding match fees.

The Warriors are owed fees for 2018 World Cup qualifying matches against Guatemala and the United States, last month, as well as for an October friendly against Nicaragua and their CONCACAF 2015 Gold Cup quarterfinal fixture against Panama.

But the Williams-led TTFA warned that the players would not be paid until the football body was in a financial position to do so.

“We appreciate the frustration of the players and we are endeavouring to address the position as soon as is practicable,” stated the TTFA release. “Our ability to address the plight of all the people we owe is a function of the TTFA being in the financial position so to do.”

It is uncertain how the TTFA’s response would go down with the players, who argued that, as the main draw for a near sold out Hasely Crawford Stadium on November 17, they should have been the first to be paid.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain Kenwyne Jones (background) hugs international teammate and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip after their penalty shootout loss to Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain Kenwyne Jones (background) hugs international teammate and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip after their penalty shootout loss to Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

The TTFA countered that the Warriors, as professional athletes, were “not out of pocket.”

“Please note that the players are not out of pocket,” stated the TTFA. “As is the norm, they continue to receive their club salary. And all the costs they incurred when representing the national team, such as flight, accommodation, meals and sundry expenses, have been met by the TTFA.”

The local football body further asserted its intention to “correct” the current policy for match fees and referred to the absence of a written policy on the matter to be a serious oversight.

The Warriors have already suggested they would resist any attempt to make payments based on international experience, on the grounds that all players should put in an equal shift for an equal pay.

Williams and his vice-presidents, Ewing Davis, Joanne Salazar and Allan Warner, did not suggest specifically what the new match contracts would look like. But they declared that change was in the air.

“Based on our findings to date, it appears that match fees are not a function of experience, number of appearances at national level, time on the field, or category of staff,” stated the TTFA. “This will be corrected as we go forward, and more specifically the policy will include an undertaking with respect to the timely payment of sums due.”

Photo: New TTFA president and ex-DIRECTV W Connection president and CEO David John-Williams.
Photo: New TTFA president and ex-DIRECTV W Connection president and CEO David John-Williams.

The executive committee stressed that it has only been in office for 10 working days and is trying to come to terms with the issues facing the football body.

“Our progress has been severely hampered by the lack of documentation, poor record-keeping and the inability to collect monies due for gate receipts,” said the TTFA. “This also applies to this situation, apparently it has been custom and practice to operate in accordance with oral agreements, in many cases the parties often lacked the authority to commit the organisation.

“This places the new administration in the position of having to locate the parties to the said oral agreements, not unsurprisingly, their recall of the circumstances and what was agreed to is both inconsistent and contradictory.”

Williams previously told Wired868 that some of the payment received from ticket outlets for the November 17 World Cup qualifier came in the form of post-dated cheques.

The TTFA warned the players that: “this could take some time to unravel.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Mekeil Williams, Ataulla Guerra, Joevin Jones, Sheldon Bateau and Radanfah Abu Bakr look on during their penalty shoot out with Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Mekeil Williams, Ataulla Guerra, Joevin Jones, Sheldon Bateau and Radanfah Abu Bakr look on during their penalty shoot out with Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

But the football body also vowed that its future operations will mirror the best run companies and urged players to help the TTFA to create a positive image that will improve its ability to raise income.

“The affairs of the TTFA will be conducted internally, mindful that to do otherwise, risks negatively impacting the reputation and credibility of the organisation,” stated the release. “This in turn negatively impacts the TTFA’s ability to attract income, and consequently, the TTFA’s ability to fund and develop football in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We look forward to building a constructive and collaborative relationship with all our national players and would request that, from time to time, should they have a grievance, they take all steps to ensure that it is brought to the attention of those in the TTFA that have the authority to addresses the issue.”

The football body ended by applauding Jones and an unnamed player, believed to be Central FC captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, for taking the lead in representing the Warriors. And said it look forward to reaching an “amicable solution” to the impasse.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (right) enjoys a calm moment with teammate Sheldon Bateau (centre) and United States midfielder Michael Bradley in attendance during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (right) enjoys a calm moment with teammate Sheldon Bateau (centre) and United States midfielder Michael Bradley in attendance during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We applaud the initiative taken by the players to appoint representatives,” stated the TTFA, “and look forward to working with those representatives, once they have been duly authorised, in writing, to negotiate on behalf of the players.

“We are committed to arriving at an amicable solution as soon as possible.”

Full TTFA release:

On the evening of December 10, 2015, it was brought to our attention that the players on the Trinidad & Tobago Senior Men’s national team had issued a press release.

The Press Release stated that the players decided that if selected for the 2016 COPA America qualifier scheduled for January 8, 2016 in Panama City, they will not take the field. This was underlined by one of the senior players, during his participation in a radio programme, confirming the origin and content of the said press release. The reason cited for the players adopting this position is the fact that they are owed monies that they were promised months ago for representing our country.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team players pose before kick off against the United States on November 17 in 2018 World Cup qualifying action. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team players pose before kick off against the United States on November 17 in 2018 World Cup qualifying action.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

We appreciate the frustration of the players and we are endeavouring to address the position as soon as is practicable. Our ability to address the plight of all the people we owe is a function of the TTFA being in the financial position so to do.

Since we were elected to office on November 29, 2015, some ten (10) working days ago, we have been working assiduously to establish the financial position of the TTFA. In doing so our progress has been severely hampered by the lack of documentation, poor record-keeping and the inability to collect monies due for gate receipts.

This also applies to this situation, apparently it has been custom and practice to operate in accordance with oral agreements, in many cases the parties often lacked the authority to commit the organisation. This places the new administration in the position of having to locate the parties to the said oral agreements, not unsurprisingly, their recall of the circumstances and what was agreed to is both inconsistent and contradictory.

Although this could take some time to unravel, please note that the players are not out of pocket. As is the norm, they continue to receive their club salary and all the costs they incurred when representing the national team, such as flight, accommodation, meals and sundry expenses, have been met by the TTFA.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Khaleem Hyland, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus and Sheldon Bateau celebrate their 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Guatemala on November 13. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Khaleem Hyland, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus and Sheldon Bateau celebrate their 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Guatemala on November 13.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Having said all the above, the absence of a policy governing the entitlement to match fees is also a serious oversight. For instance, based on our findings to date it appears that match fees are not a function of experience, number of appearances at national level, time on the field, or category of staff. This will be corrected as we go forward, and more specifically the policy will include an undertaking with respect to the timely payment of sums due.

In future, the operational protocol of the new administration will mirror that of the best run companies. The affairs of the TTFA will be conducted internally, mindful that to do otherwise, risks negatively impacting the reputation and credibility of the organisation. This in turn negatively impacts the TTFA’s ability to attract income, and consequently, the TTFA’s ability to fund and develop football in Trinidad & Tobago.

We look forward to building a constructive and collaborative relationship with all our national players and would request that, from time to time, should they have a grievance, they take all steps to ensure that it is brought to the attention of those in the TTFA that have the authority to addresses the issue.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (centre) presents Naparima College attacker Jarred Dass with his 2015 National Intercol medal.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

We applaud the initiative taken by the players to appoint representatives and look forward to working with those representatives, once they have been duly authorised, in writing, to negotiate on behalf of the players.

We are committed to arriving at an amicable solution as soon as possible.

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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58 comments

  1. What did they do with the money they made from the USA game , the stadium had 20,000 , they got marketing and sold the rights to broadcast I’m sure that’s couple Million US$.

  2. When will we get it? It doesn’t matter how much each player has, it doesn’t matter if they are out of pocket or not, it’s about principle.

  3. How they could accept post dated cheque said? They funding ticket sellers cash flow? TTFA is now a bank? Without money?

  4. You would think so Bruce but if they getting paid in post dated cheques, they still have no money in the here and now. I found that revelation startling.

  5. Can we see an income and expense statement for the USA game? Surely there was a profit from a full stadium?

  6. I agree that both sides have to behave responsibly here. But I can’t fault a worker for demanding that he be paid a debt.

    • Me neither but considering the timeframe this is a chance to rebuild from scratch in the right way …. the first part was getting the thieves out the next part is put your heads together to find a solution …. to me it’s not what you do it’s how you do it that gets a favorable outcome.

    • The onus is on both sides to rebuild in the right way. I’m not disagreeing with you. Just stressing that both sides have that responsibility.

  7. It is perfect that this was taken to the media. This is not an overnight issue. This has been the case for more than one decade. This has been the case for most national teams. This is the time for players to stand united. They have been walking the walk and playing great football, they deserve to be treated with respect.

  8. Fingers crossed that this doesn’t escalate.

  9. I agree with Carlon and Brian that when you owe someone, there should be a certain amount of humility that goes along with that. So I also feel the point about them not being out of pocket was clumsy.
    Maybe the intention was not to be dismissive of their claim for their owed money. But, if so, that didn’t come across right.
    Remember the players are still young men–between the ages of 20 and 32–who are trying to stand up for themselves.
    My personal feeling is there should have been dialogue before their release. But I hope the situation isn’t further aggravated with loose comments by the administrators who must have a cool head and see the bigger picture.
    Hopefully all sides can learn from this, shake hands and move on wiser for it.

  10. Yes. Everybody needs to work together.
    And the president needs to be the one to initiate that process.
    So somebody should tell him that he needs to mentally and managerially transition from running a football entity where he “owned” the players to running one where he does not.

  11. Carlon Garica i done with u bc i realise u talking in a vacuum !! So i would not throw pearls behind swines!! And national duty is not another jobs bc in developing sporting markets national association do not have the luxury of multiple income streams e.g jersery sells, tv rights etc i am sure joevin jones and cato have sold more jerseries in the MLS than national ones!! But that point will go over alot of folks head!! smh The players made a public statement the new president made a public response to try and regain public confidence!!! If sport is
    to become big business in TT all parties must sit and work together understand

  12. I feel this could have been handled better …rather than take it to the media request a meeting with the new ttfa and deal with it from there. They’ve only been in office like two weeks who knows what madness Tim Kee left there. How can there not be documentation for the gate receipts of the last qualifier vs US. Peeps need to be smart on both sides because they didn’t do it when Kee was in power now they’re squeezing the new executive when they havent even entered the office as yet. This is a chance to build bridges and get away from the old mould …do it the right way.

  13. Gordon Pierre you’re all over the place with your comments. You don’t even address the issues raised by other contributors to this post and conveniently carry on about the players deserving their monies while ignoring what the TTFA actually put out. Read what Chabeth Haynes said, as I grow a bit tired of trying to engage in a discussion that you refuse to be open minded about

  14. And administrators would do very well to remember that they only have roles because athletes participate in the sport.

  15. I can’t believe people coming on here to defend boldfaced disrespect.
    If you have two employers you are supposed to collect two pay cheques. One employer cannot say you get paid elsewhere so hold strain. What kind of assness is that?
    This situation is the creation of DJW and his executive. Paying your employees should be the top priority of any employer. All he had to do was pick up the damn phone. But clearly his management style doesn’t allow for that. So these are going to be a long four years…

  16. Smh Comprehension really is not just a subject!!All i will say further is that the players FULLY DESERVE THEIR MONIES!!! Brain Springer the president is not saying the players should not b paid tho!! And please do not compare whole sale what happens else most international players can sell hundreds of thousands of jerseys i doubt their is one TT player who can do that!! Not belittling the national players because i value the VERY highly but just stating a point!! Have to do that in this Highly intellegent convo!! Smh!!

  17. morning peoples all i want is this matter be resolved let not go down the road of WI cricket looking back is good if you learn from it dont let us end up like LOUTH,S wife the president,s statement was unfortunate trying to make the public feel that the players are greedy its their entitlement so they should not have to wait till the 30th FEBRUARY for their money alluh settle this now unlike the WI team this team is bringing PRIDE and JOY to the country so pay them nar done this shit we dont need this distraction on the ROAD TO RUSSIA if it still playing there loook my POSSE and i done have flight booked for VINCY next year for heaven sake PAY PAY PAY $$$$$$$$ NNNNOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW

  18. Why did President Williams feel it necessary to mention that the players continue to receive their club salary while on NATIONAL duty? He was going ok up to that point..This is norm worldwide…I resent the implication that players arent totally inconvenienced when unpaid for months after representing our country because their out of pocket expenses are covered.
    Regarding the TTFA finances…if the previous president truly sanctioned Oral agreements and post-dated cheques he should be made to say WHY…I am no accountant but I do run a small business and that could NEVER be best practice for a perenially cash-strapped organisation…Lasana have you tried reaching Mr Tim Kee for comment?

  19. it is high time TTFA stop embarrassing themselves and TT citizens….

  20. Apparently both my point and my issue has done the proverbial sail over your head. Time in office, culture of operation, bankruptcy etc are not relevant to the point I was making. Explaining why one may need time to honor a debt is all well and good, but one ought not to state, and publicly at that, that overheads are met so players will be paid in due course. If you work from home and your electricity and water and food bills are paid for does that now remove your entitlement to wages? Or does that qualify as an adequate reason to delay your salaries? Comprehension isn’t just a subject we did at primary school….it is a powerful tool that should be utilized carefully

  21. It will take whole to explain this situation. The man in office 10 working days as he put it, in a bankrupt organisation with poor operation culture and try to explain y he need time to honour debts he inherited and folk say mess!!! Common sense really aint so common!!! Guess functional misunderstanding is the new level of intelligent discussion!! smh

  22. …..and that exactly is the problem. The president of the governing body of football has the audacity to say/imply that overheads are taken care of so the players will be paid their just due in time….and folks come on social media and defend that garbage.

  23. I still can not believe that in this day and age ppl can not understand a statement in context!! The out of pocket comment simply was used to
    state that national duty cost the players nothing finiancially bc they are still paid by their clubs and all over heads are taken care of by the TTFA, it does not mean they will not b paid or do not deserve their money!! Smh

  24. Why did President Williams feel it necessary to mention that the players continue to receive their club salary while on NATIONAL duty? He was going ok up to that point..This is norm worldwide…I resent the implication that players arent totally inconvenienced when unpaid for months after representing our country because their out of pocket expenses are covered.
    Regarding the TTFA finances…if the previous president truly sanctioned Oral agreements and post-dated cheques he should be made to say WHY…I am no accountant but I do run a small business and that could NEVER be best practice for a perenially cash-strapped organisation…have you tried reaching Mr Tim Kee for comment?

  25. I cannot believe that in this day and age the TTFA conducts its financial affairs using oral contracts. Nah man. What is that?

  26. If you mean as regards to exactly what was outstanding, it indicated that only the match fees were owed and no travel costs etc were outstanding. If I recall correctly, in the past, it did happen that players had to pay their own way at times which is unacceptable.

    In any event, I am merely a bystander expressing my opinion. This entire situation seems odd to me both from the perspective that the new Executive will take time to come to grips with the dire financial straits of the TTFA and the lack of communication before public threats were made. I am hoping for improvements but I don’t expect them overnight. Time will tell in the end.

  27. That wasn’t the statement I quoted or was referring to

  28. “We appreciate the frustration of the players and we are endeavouring to address the position as soon as is practicable.”

  29. How does that statement address what’s outstanding?

  30. That’s your view and your entitled to it. I read it as a statement of what exactly was outstanding and the statement did clearly say that they would work towards resolving the matter.

  31. “Please note that the players are not out of pocket,” stated the TTFA. “As is the norm, they continue to receive their club salary. And all the costs they incurred when representing the national team, such as flight, accommodation, meals and sundry expenses, have been met by the TTFA.”

    This is not only a flippant response, but grossly irresponsible as well.

    It’s as if players’ wages aren’t important

  32. I don’t see any statement that says that if players aren’t out of pocket, match fees aren’t necessary. I do see however, a picture that no documentation, no procedures with regards to payments (post dated cheques? Really?) and a lack of funds exist which we all knew to be the case already.

    I don’t quite understand what the expectations are here. Did people think a new Executive would come on board and magically all would be well immediately?

    The TTFA is technically insolvent. There is no telling what the situation is with respect to the audit which will allow them to access desparately needed funds to meet obligations.

    Do we forget that there are employees who haven’t been paid for years? I really don’t understand the rancour.

    Could this have been handled better? Absolutely – on both sides. This is a damn near impossible task to right this ship after decades of nonsense.

    Time is required to see where we are and to chart the way forward. And frankly, hearing that business was conducted based on oral contracts with post dated payments being accepted tells me the situation was worse than anyone could have know.

  33. The players are ‘not out of pocket’…..wow. So as long as one is ‘in pocket’, wages aren’t necessary. Good to know where the TTFA president head is at……

  34. I become more enraged with every new development to this story.
    Is the general secretary willing to forgo a salary in favour of a travel and meal allowance so that he/she too will not be out of pocket for doing his/her job? ?

  35. Serious strain for the new President. His ability seriously being tested early on.

  36. If Keiron Pollard could have said, “We have families to feed too”, trust me, the Warriors are definitely out of pocket

  37. That is my assumption. But the players are happy to just get paid for the two World Cup qualifiers for now.
    I think the donation from the business man and the receipts from the Nicaragua game were enough to handle one set of match fees.

  38. Bakes

    “The affairs of the TTFA will be conducted internally, mindful that to do otherwise, risks negatively impacting the reputation and credibility of the organisation,” stated the release. “This in turn negatively impacts the TTFA’s ability to attract income, and consequently, the TTFA’s ability to fund and develop football in Trinidad and Tobago.”

    Ah well… so much for “transparency and accountability” lol

  39. BTW, since it wasn’t mentioned in the article, are we to assume they got paid for the Panama friendly?

  40. I don’t necessarily fault the players for the stance they’re taking, because it’s the only leverage they have. However, since obviously it was a burning issue with them, they should have requested an emergency meeting with DJW as soon as he became the new president and take it from there.

  41. Very true. How do you think it has been handled?

  42. The absence of a Players Association will continue to be a source of frustration for our players.