Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation said to understate World Cup earnings by USD 25 million
24.09.2007By Michael Herborn
After a challenge by London-based lawyers operating on behalf of sixteen players who represented Trinidad and Tobago at World Cup 2006, the government of Trinidad and Tobago has revealed that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) understated World Cup earnings by USD 25 million, reports the Trinidad Express.
Players for the Trinidad and Tobago national team, the Soca Warriors, were promised equal shares in a bonus fund of 50% of the revenues of World Cup earnings gathered by the TTFF for qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in a deal hammered out between the players and TTFF special advisor Jack Warner.
The TTFF quoted World Cup earnings at TTD 18.25 million (approximately USD 3 million), and claiming costs of TTD 17.9 million, initially offered players a bonus of a little under USD 1000.
This figure came as a surprise to the Soca Warrior’s World Cup 2006 Goalkeeper, Shaka Hislop. “As little as we knew about football finances that figure just didn't seem right given the fanfare and corporate involvement with the team during Germany 2006,” he told Play the Game on 20 September, before the case went to court.
“We knew it had to be more but weren't really sure how much more. To say the size of the earnings surprised us is an understatement! The reported TT$173M made the whole country gasp!”
The revelation by the Trinidad and Tobago government, published in a report by Trinidadian daily, The Trinidad Express, would suggest a total offer to players of nearly USD 14 million in bonuses, substantially more than what the TTFF has offered.
Warner accuses players of greed
The Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) was formed to represent the interests of all footballers in Trinidad and Tobago, with Hislop as its interim president.
When negotiations between the TTFF and FPATT began to stall, six months after the FPATT was formed, sixteen players retained the services of lawyers to assist in the negotiations. However, this did not go down well with the hierarchy at the TTFF. The sixteen players were blacklisted by the TTFF from representing the national team.
Jack Warner had earlier accused the players of greed when the threat of legal action emerged. In a statement to CMC Sports, Warner said “What Trinidad is suffering from is from a situation whereby 16 or 18 players are holding a country and a federation to ransom because of greed.”
Warner, who in addition to maintaining a powerful voice in the running of the TTFF, is also a Vice President at FIFA by virtue of his position as head of CONCACAF.
The irony is not lost on Hislop, who in a letter to Warner on 17 June, accused the CONCACAF head of failing to act neutrally in the interests of reaching an agreement between the parties.
“You have continually proven yourself heavily biased and opinionated in this matter,” wrote Hislop, “in your capacity as CONCACAF President, you should be the one to advise on the impasse.”
Breakdown in relationship between TTFF and players
Hislop believes changes are needed within the TTFF to avoid similar situations from occurring.
“The FPATT aren't, and have no intention of being, in a position to call for the removal of members of the TTFF. At the same time though, while the current regime is in place the relationship between the TTFF and the banned 16 will be very strained, to say the least,” Hislop told Play the Game.
“The trouble is the TTFF have never courted the respect of any of the players who have ever represented T&T. Players have always pulled on the national shirt with pride and have never expected anything in return. The TTFF have always played on those sentiments."
However, the first step to mending relations in Trinidadian and Tobagonian football has been taken, with the ban on the sixteen players being lifted as a result of the legal negotiations leading to an agreement to go to arbitration.
The TTFF were contacted for a response to the recent revelations by the Trinidad and Tobago government with regard to World Cup revenues, but are yet to reply to Play the Game.
This story was updated on 24 September 2007
Shaka Hislop, interim president of the FPATT, will be attending Play the Game 2007 to discuss these issues. To visit the conference homepage, please visit www.playthegame.org/2007