Cheques for half a million dollars each were yesterday presented by Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, to seven of the 13 Soca Warriors who are owed money by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).
The seven who received cheques yesterday were Brent Sancho, Stern John, Avery John, David Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray, Aurtis Whitley and Anthony Wolfe. Arrangements were being made for the remaining six to collect their cheques “in due course.”
The six, who are working abroad and thus unable to come home for their money, are Cornell Glen, Shaka Hislop, Kenwyne Jones, Kelvin Jack, Collin Samuel and Evans Wise.
The presentation ceremony was held yesterday afternoon at Parliament, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain.
Addressing reporters, the Prime Minister recalled that back in July, she “gave a commitment on behalf of the Government that we’ll pay the sum of TT $7.5 million dollars to our (2006) Soca Warriors. The Government is under no legal obligation in this regard but we recognise that this payment is necessary to assist the players and to address their very legitimate grievance and stress.”
Persad-Bissessar also reiterated that the payment was made “without prejudice to any legal rights and remedies which the players might have against the TTFF for the recovery of the balance of their judgment debt.” Speaking on behalf of the players, Sancho said he was “a little bit lost for words because it’s been a very long, arduous, battle. We will continue our pursuit and again, we want to thank you Madam Prime Minister for the gift.”
The former national defender said the payment was “without a doubt, a renewal” of the group’s commitment to “find the persons responsible for missing funds and...hopefully, bring whatever money is missing, back to the coffers of the Federation (TTFA).”
Sancho later joked with Newsday, “I feel like I just won Miss Universe” before revealing he intends to put some of the money in the bank and to invest the rest “wisely.” Ex-Soca Warriors forward Stern John had a similar response, saying he too intends to invest his money. “I’ve (invested) in a lot of property before, so I’m going to continue and put it to good use.”
“Like Brent said,” he added, “it’s been a long journey, a long eight years. All of the guys are excited to get the money, so they could use it to do well for themselves and for their family.”
Yesterday’s cheque presentation comes eight years after the football players were promised a bonus for their performance at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The failure to pay that bonus eventually led to a legal battle. Some players decided to settle out of court but the 13 who received money yesterday were unwavering in their legal battle.
According to the judgment in subsequent arbitration proceedings, the players were entitled to 50 percent of the net profits TTFF derived from “the Road to Germany 2006 campaign.”
The sum was settled at US$3 million, but to date the TTFF had only paid the players US$1.7 million.
Persad-Bissessar noted that, “The players have now agreed to continue their legal action against the TTFF and to reimburse the Government should they recover any further monies pursuant to the judgment.”