PtG Article 10.10.2006

Trinidad & Tobago's national team resigns in row over World Cup bonus

FIFA vice president Jack Warner is at the centre of a new scandal, as players for Trinidad and Tobago’s national football team, the Soca Warriors, have announced their decision to retire from international football. Team members accuse the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) of reneging on the contractual obligations it made to the team before the World Cup.

When the Soca Warriors took to the pitches in Germany this summer, it was the first time ever that Trinidad and Tobago took part in a World Cup. On the strength of that performance hopes were high for the World Cup in 2010 but now the team seems to slide towards disbandment.

“We all recognise that eventual retirement must come to us all but certainly did not anticipate this decision, especially following so hotly on the hells of what has been our proudest and memorable achievements in the game this summer,” the team’s captain Dwain Yorke said in a prepared statement last week.

The captain is supported by 12 other members of the team.

A bonus of less than 1,000 US dollars

The problem – as it appears to be so often in the case of the T&TFF – is money and the way it is handled by T&TFF officials including T&TFF special adviser Jack Warner who is also vice president of FIFA.

The players are concerned about the accuracy of T&TFF’s accounting and the way it suggests to split the more than 18 million TT dollars the football federation received for its part in the 2006 World Cup. According to the players, Jack Warner promised them half of the revenue accrued by the T&TFF during the World Cup. The promise was made in November last year.

According to an article by reporter Lasana Liburd in the Trinidad Express, there are a host of problems with the accounting including

  • The accounts show no income from the sale of television rights from the Bahrain leg of the World Cup and a series of friendly matches shown on European television
  • Income from sponsors appears to be omitted or doctored including a deal with Adidas. In December 2005 T&TFF announced that Adidas had paid 73 million TT dollars to sponsor the team. When it came to give players their cut, the football federation said the deal was only worth 1.8 million TT dollars
  • T&TFF claims that the sponsors insisted that a third of their money should be set aside for the preparations for the World Cup in 2010
  • T&TFF has deducted the player’s match fees, allowances, accommodation, transport and refreshment from their World Cup bonus packages so in effect they were paying their own salaries
  • T&TFF also deducted “FIFA/CONCACAF dues”, gate equipment and scouting fees
  • There is no sign of the 45 million TT dollars the football federation was promised by the government of Trinidad and Tobago to negate all expenses

All in all, each player could look forward to a bonus of 5,600 TT dollars from the World Cup. That is the equivalent of 893 US dollars.

T&TFF embarrassed

Jack Warner was recently honoured by Citizens for a Better Trinidad and Tobago for his contributions to local football and in particular his efforts in steering Trinidad and Tobago to its first ever World Cup performance.

However, Jack Warner has made no comments on the players’ decision to leave the team and the allegations against the accounts. Instead he has told the players that they can meet with T&TFF's secretary general Richard Groden.

"But we don't want to see Groden. It is Jack we made the deal with, so it is he want to meet," one player who prefer to be anonymous said to the Trinidad Express.

Te secretary general of T&TFF, Richard Groden, released a press statement last week in which he said that the situation “had been commandeered by motives unbecoming of players with whom we have developed a particular level of understanding.”

Groden said that he was embarassed by this turn of events in particular from players “whose interests we have sought and defended on a continuing basis.”