WC players happy to be paid but...

Players from Trinidad and Tobago’s 2006 World Cup football team have indicated an intention to pursue a legal battle against the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), despite Government on Monday agreeing to pay a final US $1.3 million settlement owed to them by the local governing body for football.

Yesterday, the Express polled a wide range of persons in the local fraternity for comment on the issue, including former players and administrators, over several generations. However, only  a few were willing to speak on record.

It was unanimously agreed that the matter should now end in the interest of football. And it was suggested that the former Soca Warriors be careful they do not end up being looked upon as a “greedy” bunch. However, that notion was dismissed by former Soca Warriors defender and players’ representative Brent Sancho.

Among the few willing to speak on record were Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis and Jamaal Shabazz, the former Trinidad and Tobago men’s and women’s teams national coach.

Sancho presented the players’ view.

Sancho said that as a group of 13 players, they still had to discuss the next move forward. But, he added they wanted to know how the funds raised for the 2006 World Cup were spent.

“ I don’t think some people understand what we are trying to do. Our getting paid has nothing to do with the litigation process against the Federation,” Sancho declared. “We are on a quest to find out where the money went.”

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee president Lewis said his understanding is that the final US $1.3 million settlement reached would have been an integrated effort of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) , Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and  probably the Minister of Sport. He congratulated all concerned, but hoped that in the interest of development and young footballers, the sport should be allowed to move on.

“I think an opportunity has been presented here by the Prime Minister and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and I say this with respect to all the parties concerned,” Lewis said.

“It is timely in that the current World Cup is about to end and qualifying for a new one is expected to begin in the near future.”

Lewis said qualifying for the World Cup in 2006 should have been the take-off point for Trinidad and Tobago as a football nation. Instead, he suggested the fact that T&T did not factor in 2010 and 2014 should be of greater concern.

“I feel it important that the matter is now put to rest. I would expect that this chapter in the history of Trinidad and Tobago Football as it relates to 2006 to now be closed, ” Lewis added. “It is an important opportunity to move football forward.”

Shabazz voiced similar sentiments.

“I am persona non grata with the TTFA, so anything I say regarding this matter has the tendency to heavily tainted,” the former T&T and Guyana national coach said.

“I am happy that the players received their money. But, I feel the opportunity is there to move on to the work ahead.”

However, Sancho insisted that it was important to determine where TT $200 million in funds raised during the 2006 World Cup campaign went.

“We owe it to every single Trinidad and Tobagonian to unearth where that money gone and try to recoup it,” Sancho said. “Despite financial remuneration we are going to stick to our pursuit. We owe it to football, we owe it to the developmental players.

“We are not saying that we are going to bankrupt anyone. I think the TTFA is doing a good enough job of that themselves,” Sancho added. “We said we are going to explore those avenues to unearth those monies that we said are missing.

“Now if  it means we have to go down a certain road inclusive of closing (them) down, then we have to. If it doesn’t, then we don’t,” Sancho added. “But we all know that we have to go after the person that is culpable for the money that is missing.”