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Copa cheer: Warriors and TTFA near match fees solution

Finally, some good news. After two days and roughly nine hours of negotiating, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and the National Senior Team are allegedly within touching distance of a solution, which might bring an end to their impasse over outstanding match fees.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team trains in Guatemala City, ahead of their opening Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Guatemala. (Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/KJ Media)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team trains in Guatemala City, ahead of their opening Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Guatemala.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/KJ Media)

The “Soca Warriors” are owed fees for last month’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and the United States as well as a friendly international against Nicaragua on October 13.

The Warriors, frustrated by the perceived sluggish pace of the new administration in settling their arrears, vowed that they would not play in the 8 January 2016 Copa America play off against Haiti unless they were paid for at least both World Cup qualifiers.

The TTFA, now headed by president David John-Williams, initially countered that it would pay as soon as practicable before drawing up a three-member committee—which comprised of vice-presidents Joanne Salazar and Ewing Davis and board member Samuel Saunders—to negotiate with the players.

Wired868 understands that the Warriors were subsequently offered match fees for one World Cup qualifying match, which was refused. Then, during the second day of negotiations, the TTFA supposedly suggested that it was willing to pay for the players’ outings against Guatemala and Nicaragua and defer other payments.

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 difference in the figure due for the Nicaragua friendly and United States draw is said to be US$500 (TT$3,180) per player. And, since coach Stephen Hart had a 19-man squad squad to face Nicaragua and 22 players for the United States contest, the TTFA would save US$12,500 (TT$79,530) if the Warriors accept.

The players, who were represented by captain Kenwyne Jones—via Skype from Wales—and vice-captain Jan-Michael Williams and also had Yohance Marshall join the talks, are believed to be leaning towards the offered compromise, although they hope to get consensus from their teammates.

It is not altogether straightforward. The TTFA’s proposal would mean that teenaged midfielder Aikim Andrews, who played against Nicaragua but not in the subsequent qualifiers, will get one match fee.

And Lester Peltier, Carlyle Mitchell, Cordell Cato and Justin Hoyte, who all missed the Nicaragua game but were in the United States match squad, will lose out on a payment.

Wired868 was also reliably informed that Jones and Williams (JM) opted to negotiate the match fees themselves and declined an offer from former Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) president Shaka Hislop to intervene.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (right) gives Radanfah Abu Bakr and another teammate a ride after scoring against Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal round. Looking on is Joevin Jones (left). (Copyright AFP 2015/Jewel Samad)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (right) gives Radanfah Abu Bakr and another teammate a ride after scoring against Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal round.
Looking on is Joevin Jones (left).
(Copyright AFP 2015/Jewel Samad)

Contrary to a report in the Trinidad Guardian, Hislop contacted the Warriors soon after the dispute started and offered to help. But his invitation was not accepted, as the players felt capable of representing themselves.

FPATT is non-functional at present but, again contrary to the Guardian report, the association ceased operating soon after its short-lived start in 2007, due to its failure to gain traction among local footballers and not because of the relative success of the 2006 World Cup bonus case.

Hislop and other former FPATT board members including Kelvin Jack and Brent Sancho were involved in the bonus dispute.

The current Warriors intend to use legal advice for any written agreement over fees with the TTFA but will represent themselves until that time.

Both parties are expected to find middle ground by early this week and have agreed in principle on a joint press release. It is uncertain whether payments due to the Soca Warriors’ technical staff members will fall under the proposed TTFA offer.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) shakes hands with SPORTT Company chairman Michael Phillips (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith looks on. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) shakes hands with SPORTT Company chairman Michael Phillips (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith looks on.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

Salazar, a Phoenix Park Gas Processors vice-president, was credited as the driving force behind the TTFA’s talks. Although the players did not take a lawyer to the meetings, Saunders, who represented the local football body, is a practising attorney.

Once the TTFA and the Warriors agree on a figure for outstanding fees, both parties are expected to return to the negotiating table soon to discuss match fees for the Copa America play off against Haiti and for future international games under the current executive.

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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31 comments

  1. ..Good. Hopefully this issue won’t rear its jead again..

  2. I guess my happiness for this possibility can only be shoulder-charged away if the spirit of the next “tackle” shows that this would not just be a onetime fix.

  3. Lasana….employers have their own history of exploitation of their employees and it would not change soon….

  4. Bakes

    “Wired868 was also reliably informed that Jones and Williams (JM) opted to negotiate the match fees themselves and declined an offer from former Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) president Shaka Hislop to intervene.”

    These fools.

  5. The proposal is to pay the players for the Nicaragua and Guatemala matches and never pay them for the USA match? Or pay them at a later date for the USA match?

    • No need for pay? Lol. But Monti, you know that Pro League players don’t make much money…

    • True,they will use the National team as exposure for better contract…if they are good enough

    • International game are always in wiscout

    • My belief is that once money is being paid from their work, they deserve their cut.

    • Ok let’s pay for any sport with a national jersey than including tennis table,netball etc

    • If money is being paid there, then sure. But it isn’t.
      As soon as those sports can turn a profit, I certainly hope their players are paid too.

    • Come Lasana lemme hear you, haha

    • Hahahaha. Good point Stefano Monti. But if I started a business tomorrow and invited you to work for me, I have to find a way to pay you as an employee. That is my burden as the employer and entrepreneur.
      It is my company not yours. The players are doing their part to make the TTFA a success and they might have retired by the time the football body starts making profit.
      But their work is worth something.

    • A company has to pay employees whether they make a profit or not. It is a difficult juggling act of course and we only do it because we see a way for us to make a profit in the end.
      You run a business. I run a smaller one. It is hard. But it has to be done. It is reasonable that the TTFA tries not to overstretch itself of course.

    • Two different vision,no problem for me national duty should not be business

    • I believe we need to look at this from a cultural perspective

    • I love Mr. Stefano Monti contribution. But in Trinidad, given the population, number of participants, performance levels…national athletes should be given stipends; not exorbitant ones

      • Mr. Weston and Mr. Monti

        Selected players represent our country who require compensation in my opinion, I recognize that you disagree at various levels. However, should elected officials such as PM, MP who also represent the country be paid? Should those appointed to government boards and ambassadorships that too serve the country be compensated?

        They are all forms of national duty, is your non compensation for national service restricted to athletes only?

    • As Lasana said, some of these guys don’t make much at ProLeague clubs. Some of them won’t realistically get contracts or even a trial after a few international appearances. So I don’t see anything wrong with a little pittance for a national game. Trinidad is too small scale to not offer players a stipend. They should receive something.

    • I can’t see the genie going back in the bottle where football is concerned. Especially when our match fees are already well short of what other competing nations like Mexico, the US and Costa Rica pay.
      But I watch on curiously.

    • Countries like France, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain; you know if a player makes these national teams because of the competitiveness he’s good, historically too. So he’ll most likely be paid by someone a salary that is viable. Not in Trinidad, we have to take our culture into consideration.

    • For me, I see national football administrators with a dozen porsches in their garage and property all over the place.
      So I say international football is a business too. I respect other opinions. But I haven’t been convinced yet that it should be treated differently to any other business in terms of responsibility to employees/performers.

    • Of course if they win money in tournament is a different story

    • I know what you mean Kirwin Weston but my thought is not only trinidad but worldwide

    • Do keep in mind that in places like England, the FA is run by successful businessmen who had great success outside of football. Not all of them depend on football to get rich.

    • Let me say that the caliber of the TTFA negotiators seems to be good, and I hope they try to take a very balanced approach to the negotiations. The players also need to understand the financial position of the TTFA and realize that there is much more to representing the National team than just match fees. The opportunity to play on the international stage allows scouts to see the more talented players and when they get International contracts, then they can make a decent living.
      We need to find the balance and I am a little surprised that the players have turned down the offer from Shaka to help. He is very experienced in international soccer, well respected and negotiated on behalf of players in 2005 & 2006.
      Players need to also understand that qualifying for the World Cup finals brings in big money, part of which will be shared by the players.
      Old people had a saying ” Eat little and live long” Be patient guys, but get all agreements committed to writing so you are protected.
      Good luck and hopefully we can resolve this matter.

      • Bruce

        Absolutely agree that they should have accepted Shaka Hislop’s offer provided it was at no charge. It’s possible they did not want to taint the matter with historical challenges, however I think the positives he would have brought outweigh the negatives. We have a tendency to not leverage(value) the experience of those that went before us which often makes us start new over and over. I hope this was not the case.