High Court orders TTFA pay 2016 team immediately.
FORMER national futsal coach Clayton Morris has expressed relief, after the TT Football Association (TTFA) was yesterday ordered by the High Court to immediately pay representatives of T&T's 2006 futsal team, including Morris, other staff members and 22 players, nearly half a million dollars.
The futsal team, represented by attorney Keston McQuilken, made claims for non-payment of salaries, match fees and per diems for the CONCACAF Futsal Championships, which took place in Costa Rica in May, 2016. The TTFA has to pay the team $475,743 plus interest at three per cent per annum and also cover their legal fees.
Former national footballer and head coach of the futsal team at the time, Clayton Morris, took charge of the team in 2016 following an oral agreement between himself and ex-TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee.
The TTFA, however, took the position that an arrangement between itself and the futsal team was done before John-Williams' tenure and was in violation of Article 36(j) of the TTFA constitution, which gives only the board of directors authority to select technical staff for a national team.
However, the presiding judge, Justice Margaret Mohammed, viewed John-Williams' defence to have been discredited in cross-examination by attorney Keston McQuilkin, who showed that the constitution came into existence well after Morris and Tim Kee had reached a verbal agreement about the futsal team's programme.
Attempts to reach John-Williams for a response to yesterday's verdict were unsuccessful.
Morris, despite winning in court, was not in an entirely celebratory mood.
"I feel relieved that justice has been served," he told Newsday yesterday.
"It's bitter-sweet. I've played football for 85 per cent of my life and all that I've achieved is though this sport. It's bitter because you have to go to court to get what you've earned. The main thing is respect for our players," he said.
Morris, captain of the 1989 Strike Squad, said he hopes the stance taken by the futsal players will inspire other teams who may feel aggrieved to stand up for their rights.
"A lot of other managers are afraid to step forward because they feel they will be victimised. At the end of the day we want what's best for T&T football," he said.
Does he fear being blacklisted for taking the TTFA to court?
"I have no fear. As a coach, you have to stand before the players and they look at you bigger than a teacher or a priest. You must have that confidence to tell them (what to do). I have no fear with respect to this. I was inducted into the First Citizens Hall of Fame in 2015 and I was supposed to get a pass to attend any game free of charge and my pass has been withheld. I have to line-up and pay like everybody else. I have no fear.
"It is about respect for the human resource and human beings. Just as we loving up the Home of Football, we have to respect the footballers and the people washing the bibs. These people deserve respect too," he said.
Morris said he was never in doubt that the futsal team could lose the case.
"Why do we have to go this way? You ask people to make sacrifices. I dipped in my pocket, submit bills and all they could say is they don't know anything about that. No way we could lose. We had all documents, cheques for us to travel, CONCACAF documents that were sent to us. We were very confident," he declared.
High Court awards Futsal footballers $.5M.
By Walter Alibey (Guardian).
After a two-year battle with the parent body the T&T Football Association for unpaid salaries, per diem, travel costs, match fees, rental fees and other expenses, the national Futsal team, yesterday finally claimed victory in the High Court in Port-of-Spain to the tune of $500,000.
The amount, together with the legal costs of the futsal team of $69,200.82 was to be paid immediately.
Afterwards, then coach Clayton Morris said the victory was not for him but rather for the disrespect shown to the country's footballers, both men and women, who toil every day to be able to represent the red, white and black at local and international tournaments.
Morris, the former captain of the now famous 'Strike Squad' team of 1989, was the driving force behind the court battle, saying he was begged to prepare a team for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Tournament in Cuba in 2015, which he accepted to prevent the embattled football association from being penalized by the CFU.
In spite of the haste to get a team prepared, Morris got the support of his players who train four days a week, both day and night, and qualified for one of two playoff spots by virtue of placing third. However, their joy quickly turned to sorrow when president David John-Williams allegedly denied even knowing who had given Morris and company the team to train.
The team was led by captain Jerwyn Balthazar and included Ishmael Daniel, Anthony Small, Kareem Perry, Jamel Lewis, Colin Joseph, Adrian Pirthysingh, Kevin Graham, Kevaughn Connell, Keston Guy, Noel Williams, Cyrano Glen, Bevon Bass and Jameel Neptune. Morris headed the technical staff along with Ronald Brereton (manager), Sterling O'Brien (assistant coach), Perry Martin (goalkeeper coach) and Brent Elder (trainer/physio).
Morris said he took money out of his own pockets to rent facilities for the team to train while players showed amazing commitment by travelling long distances with families at their sides to practice, but compensation for all this, together with match fees, per diem and other costs were denied by John-Williams.
"We came together as a team and agreed to take legal action against the administrators of the sport. This is not about money, but they have to respect people for the work that they do. There needs to be a human touch within the football association," Morris said.
"I feel really sad to see now what our women footballers have gone through and the disrespect they were treated with."
Attempts to reach John Williams for a comment yesterday proved futile as calls to his cellphone went unanswered.