With the new appointment of Otto Pfister as coach of the Soca Warrions, members of the national senior football team who represented T&T in the 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany want to know where the money is coming from to pay the 74-year-old German since the financially-strapped T&T Football Federation (TTFF) has to pay them US $1.1 million in bonuses promised to them.
Speaking from England yesterday, goalkeeper Kelvin Jack, acting as spokesman for the 13 players, said he found it very strange that the federation is going to pay a new coach despite the judgement delivered by Justice Devindra Rampersad on February 25 ordering payment of US $1,140,384 to the 13 members of the 2006 World Cup squad.
Jack noted that an interim payment has to be paied by the TTFF to the players by May 16. While the local governing body for the sport will honour the judgement, TTFF President, Oliver Camps admitted that his federation will have to borrow the necessary funds.
The judgement in February came almost five years of court battle in which the players seeked to collect bonuses promised to them by the TTFF.
“What the players find very strange is that the federation is going to appoint a new coach and apparently the Ministry of Sport is going to help pay the salary of this new coach,” said Jack.
“We are just saying that it sounds ridiculous since the federation is yet to provide proper accounts on how the 2006 World Cup revenue was spent,” he added.
“How can they justify paying this new coach a salary since several disparities have been discovered in their accounting documents?” Jack questioned.
Yesterday, the Guardian was reliably informed that the Ministry of Sport and the Football Federation will be footing the bill to pay Pfister’s salary.
Another of the affected players, defender Brent Sancho echoed the same sentiments as his colleague Jack. “If the government is paying the coach’s salary why haven’t they investigated the federation?
After all, they came into power on a platform of integrity and transparency but they are funding an organisation in which a judge in the court described them (the federatiion) as unaccountable.
“Until they could provide accurate and verifable accounts, the government should not have allowed them any funding.
“It is quite amusing, and at the same time alarming, that Warner is talking about the federation in third party and trying to separate himself from the federation when he was the head of the LOC in 2006 which was responsible for all the income and expenditure, including payment to the players,” said Sancho.
“It is actually shocking to know that he could barely manage the acounts of the LOC and is instead given the biggest budget in Trinidad and Tobago as Ministry of Works and Transport.”
Camps, in his statement after judgement was passed on February 25, clearly pointed out that “the TTFF does not have that kind of money as over the years we have been depending almost solely on our benefactor Warner to take care of the financial needs of the Federation”.
“Apart from whatever help we receive from the government from time to time, Warner has been funding all our eight national teams single handedly,” said Camps.
“I will discuss with him (Warner) whether or not he is mindful to assist us in this matter or whether as a Federation we will be forced to file for bankruptcy.”
Jack, who will be celebrating with 35th birthday on April 29, is presently inactive after cancelling his contract with Darlington Football Club.
“I decided to cancel my contract in January because the distance from Darlington in relation to my house in Kent is 325 miles away and it is affecting my family life,” stated Jack.
“For the start of the new season in August, I will resume my career wherever it takes me. For now, it is my family before football, “ said Jack, who has been plying his trade in England for the past seven years.
Apart from Jack, the other players who brought the law suit against the TTFF are Shaka Hislop, Kenwyne Jones, Stern John, Marvin Andrews, Aurtis Whitley, Brent Sancho, Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray, Ian Cox, Avery John, Chris Birchall, Collin Samuel, Evans Wise, Anthony Wolfe and Cornell Glen.