In an immediate response to the suggestion of "systematically bullying" by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs (MSYA) Brent Sancho responded for the first time out in the open regarding the ongoing feud between his ministry and the local football governing body.
The TTFA released a statement to the media on Sunday that included the specifics of their expenditure, which was said to be US$71,000. However, yesterday, the sum was said to be US$100,000 by the minister, and was set to be received at the end of July from CONCACAF.
Sancho said that according to a TTFA press release, the ministry was alerted in writing of the funds to the TTFA from CONCACAF. “This is true,” he said, “But what minister Tim Kee does not admit to, was that the information was given after the ministry had paid the airfare for the Gold Cup, and after the ministry had made several direct enquiries.”
Sancho said when his Ministry asked the TTFA on June 25, if CONCACAF would cater to internal flights and accomodation during the Gold Cup, while the TTFA would have to see about their team's airfare to and from the US, their answer was yes.
The MSYA was told by the TTFA on June 28 that the US$100,000 CONCACAF funded would arrive at the end of July. However CONCACAF relayed information that the funds had already arrived. “Yet still, the TTFA continue to request funding from the ministry including a request to pay a laundry bill,” the minister said.
Sancho said he was not surprised when he found out that his ministry unwittingly allotted what eventually became surplus funds to the TTFA, after the CONCACAF had already sent the money. “This is an institutionalised behaviour,” he said. “It has started since mister Warner, and Tim Kee has been a part of his organisation, so I'm not surprised.”
The sports minister said that he has consistently requested to see the TTFA accounts, a stipulation placed in the cabinet notes. “I believe I have a duty to have these conditions met,” he said.
The TTFA is poorly run according to the Minister -– the VISA debacle, the frantic changes in players, the decision to pay match fees at the Pan Am Games without an agreement from the TTOC, the missing $400,000 for the Argentina game, the Akeem Adams tee-shirt scandal, as well as the player's Jamaican impasse, were all due to the culpability of the football governing body.
Regarding the women's footballers, the minister reiterated that he promised them that he would sit down and discuss with Tim Kee, their issues. One of the issues was the payment of stipends and match fees for the Pan American Games; they were promised US$600 for the entire trip; they were trying to negotiate US$500 per game as well as stipends. He said that the TTFA "miraculously" sourced funds when a boycott of the Games became a plausibility.
However, despite promising the girls their payments, they have yet to deliver as according to Sancho, none of the promises have come to fruition. “I woke up this morning and felt it was a reincarnation of Jack Warner,” he said.
“This is the only governing body that we have any problems with. It is abundantly clear that this organisatiojn is playing politics with sport. During the Jamaica impasse, the government went as far as to fund $9.5 million to ensure staff were paid. The question is, when will it end? It has to stop.” he emphasised.
According to him, the Ministry has had enough and will not entertain any further funding unless the TTFA can be more transparent, and account for previous funds. “They will not be funded,” Sancho said. “Unless they can account for where our funds will go,” he ended.