It seems that a convoluted and frustrating journey for the 13 Soca Warriors embroiled in a legal battle with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) for the better part of seven years is finally coming to an end.
Within the next two weeks the matter should be formally settled, with the Federation expected to hand over a cheque to the players. The sum of the payment has not been disclosed, and it is not known whether the payment will in fact be in full, or merely an installment.
TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee, who is currently in the US, yesterday confirmed to the Express by phone that the Federation will be issuing a payment soon to the players.
“I can’t disclose the figure, but I can tell you that both parties are comfortable,” said Tim Kee.
Asked whether he had gotten a pledge of assistance from CONCACAF at last week’s XXVIII Ordinary Congress in Panama City, Panama, Tim Kee said the Federation’s financial situation was “no different from how it was for the last two years. But we have to see what we can do at this end.”
It is also not clear how the cash-strapped TTFF will be able to afford the payment. But the TTFF head has placed great importance on settling with the players.
“The singular focus now is on the money for the 2006 players and everything else is secondary,” he said.
Brent Sancho, who has been the most vocal among the 13 players in their battle, described his conversations with Tim Kee as “quite positive”, and is hoping to bring the matter to a swift close.
“It’s general settlement, including monetary compensation. The figure is not finalised but we are seeing [attempts] to act expeditiously,” Sancho said.
“The timeline in terms of what we’re going with is in the next ten to 14 days. We’re in the advanced stages of talks and we’re hoping this can happen really quickly.”
On the topic of former TTFF special adviser Jack Warner—who was accused of financial mismanagement and corruption in the CONCACAF Integrity Committee report and who stepped down on Sunday as Minister of National Security and subsequently UNC chairman—Tim Kee said he was surprised by the turn of events.
“It was startling, and I think it was generally surprising to everyone,” he said. “That was the body language and the comments that were made…it was a big surprise to me too.”
According to Sancho, the difference between the most recent negotiations with the TTFF and previous attempts and legal action is the determination by the current president to solve the matter.
“Past discussions with members of the executive were never serious…they made it into a circus...coming up with all kinds of things.”
Sancho added that it is incumbent upon the TTFF to try and recover the missing funds from T&T’s 2006 World Cup campaign.
Sancho described Warner’s current woes as “a sad day for Trinbagonians”, and said it would make it difficult for a Trinidad and Tobago native to be put in such a position of power in future.
“It’s a true report,” the former T&T defender stated. “It’s the result of an investigation that comes with a final announcement. This is not allegations. This is real stuff. We need to wake up and smell the coffee related to what is ours.”
He also described the outcome of years of legal battles as “bittersweet” for the players. But does Sancho think the players’ struggles were all worth it?
“I think the answer to that question is almost impossible to answer because only the future of the game in Trinidad would tell us what our sacrifices entail,” he said. “We hope to God that it [is worth it], because you talk about players’ careers (being) ended, blacklistings, being dragged on political platforms, the worse thing to happen to any player.
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