Former national defender, Brent Sancho, the spokesman for the 13 2006 World Cup players locked in a legal battle with the T&T Football Association (TTFA) said he was unsure when the US$1.3 million (TT$7.8m) offered by the Government to settle the bonus dispute will be paid.
Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Sancho said he has not yet discussed the timing of the payment offered by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, but plans on doing so when she returns to T&T. Persad-Bissessar is currently on a private visit to Brazil for the World Cup.
“We haven’t dealt with that (time frame) as yet. When the Prime Minister returns then we will have to discuss it,” Sancho said.
On Monday, before she departed for Brazil to witness the World Cup semifinal contest between the host and Germany, Persad-Bissessar announced at a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, that the Government will foot the bill for the outstanding US$1.3 million owed to the players by the TTFA for their part in revenue earned by the then T&T Football Federation for the team’s historic qualification for 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Following a settlement by the court of arbitration, the players were paid US$1.7 million out of US$3 million. Due to the TTFA’s failure to meet specified payment dates, Sancho recently threatened to “wind up” the local governing body for football.
On Monday, the same day she left for Brazil, Persad-Bissessar announced that, while under no legal obligation, she consulted with members of Cabinet including Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and the Minister of Finance Larry Howai, where an agreement was reached to pay the Soca Warriors the balance of US$1.3 million owed to them.
According to Howai, the funds will be taken from the Ministry of Sport’s budgetary allocation.
“On the eve of the FIFA World Cup semifinals, I think it is appropriate that we honour these players and settle their long outstanding battle for the payments due them.
“Let us move beyond the grievances and rekindle the spirit of togetherness and patriotism engendered by such a historic moment,” Persad-Bissessar said.
However, Sancho revealed that he, along with the players, would continue to pursue the TTFA in an attempt to uncover the “actual” revenue earned from the 2006 World Cup qualifying and plans on using the released funds as a “platform” to do so.
“What we’re doing is trying to pursue the person or those responsible. It is not (for) the monetary gain. The persons responsible should be held to account. This a matter of principle, transparency and accountability. They have to repay what was stolen, the $200 million,” Sancho said.
He said that the money paid to the players by the Government would be returned to taxpayers if the players are successful in its pursuit of the TTFA.