The war of words between Trinidad and Tobago's veteran players and the country's football leadership continues.
In a letter distributed to media today, FC Dallas's Shaka Hislop, the Howard University graduate and star of T&T's World Cup effort last summer, criticized CONCACAF President Jack Warner for his comments about the dispute between the players and the T&T federation. Warner, a special advisor to the federation, had commended the TTFF last Friday for a "principled stand in resisting being blackmailed by certain players."
The players are upset about World Cup bonuses that they claim were promised but not paid out. Those players did not play for T&T in the Gold Cup, and the young squad was eliminated in the first round.
Hislop's letter is below:
Dear Mr. Warner,
I am writing to you as President of the newly formed Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT). I and everyone else at FPATT have been occupying ourselves with our launch and the business of representing our general membership. FPATT would like to join you in commending the courageous showing of the young Soca Warriors in this year's Gold Cup tournament especially in, as you commented, its final drawn match against Guatemala when it played the match with 10 men for all of 58 minutes. It is this same courage that won the hearts of millions around the world at last year's World Cup. It truly was delightful to witness. They made us all proud.
Your last outburst though has prompted me to write in defense of the characters the most successful team in our nation's history against your latest slanderous attack. In response to your latest accusations, it is a person's human right to legal counsel. Your opposition and the TTFF's flailing attempts to deny them this right points to stratagem. In all my years as a professional player I have always retained the services of a lawyer to oversee all my negotiations, as I'm sure you have given your many legal incongruities of late. This has never prevented me from entering into talks with anyone. Furthermore these players have always been honoured to wear the red, black and white of Trinidad and Tobago and have never ruled themselves unavailable for national selection as incorrectly suggested. They have always been available to "sit down around a table and talk", albeit with counsel. Indeed countless efforts to resolve this issue and promote transparency within the national game have seen the TTFF stand steadfast in their intrepidity.
What they are seeking is an impartial ruling as to whether their claim, which they believe they are contractually entitled to, is "remotely justified" (as you put it) or not. You have continually proven yourself heavily biased and opinionated in this matter when in truth, in your capacity as CONCACAF President, you should be the one to advise on the impasse. The players who represented T&T in the World Cup are all professional footballers; this is their livelihood. This cannot be interpreted as "greed", or even worse holding anyone "to ransom". The absurdity of this statement and the blase with which it has been bandied about is beyond me, as it should be to someone in your standing. This whole episode has shown the importance of a players' association to the modern game. President Blatter in his recent address to his delegates commented on the efforts FIFA had made "to include players in the decision-making process by signing a memorandum of understanding with FIFPro, the international players' organization". The TTFF must now follow FIFA's lead in recognizing and working with FPATT in an effort to take our game, both at the national and international levels, forward.
I look forward to your response.