Jack Warner silent as Trinidad Soca Warrior spirit fades
Players concerned about accuracy of T&TFF accounting
Port-of-Spain---9 Oct. 2006---FIFA vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) special adviser, Jack Warner, maintained his silence yesterday, as the Soca Warriors continued to slide towards disbandment.
On Friday evening, the Warriors, led by team captain Dwight Yorke, declared their intention to resign from international duty due to an alleged breach of contract by the T&TFF.
A hasty release from T&TFF general secretary Richard Groden, which erroneously accused the players of planning a boycott of Saturday's friendly against St Vincent and the Grenadines, suggested that the problem lay with the distribution of sponsorship money.
Groden submitted an unaudited statement of income and expenditure to the national media, which claimed that the T&TFF received $18,255,952 for its part in the Germany 2006 World Cup.
The players are believed to be concerned about the accuracy of the T&TFF's accounting.
For starters, there was no mention of money accrued from television rights. The deal, which was agreed to between the players and Warner two days before the first leg World Cup play-off against Bahrain, controversially failed to share television money for the Bahrain legs, as well as a host of friendly matches against the likes of Iceland, Wales and the Czech Republic. These matches were televised throughout Europe by high-profile stations like Sky Sports and Euro Sports.
There is worry that several sponsors were omitted or figures doctored as well.
The T&TFF's accountant for this project, by its own admission, is Kenny Rampersad, who was revealed to be Warner's business partner during investigations on Simpaul Travel Services last December. Rampersad, at the time, was mandated to act on Simpaul's behalf.
Worse, as far as the players were concerned, the T&TFF then deducted expenses before handing over the Warriors' share. And a $9 million share was reduced to $141,102 to be split 25 ways-24 players and one share for the players' committee.
Last Thursday, Yorke and his teammates were told that their reward for taking Trinidad and Tobago to its inaugural World Cup-a feat that secured them a place in FIFA's history book as well as $1 million and a Chaconia (Gold) medal each from the Government-was worth TT$5,644.08 per player to the T&TFF.
In short, Groden contended that sponsors hustling to get on board after the team's qualification for the Germany World Cup insisted that the T&TFF put aside one third of their money for the 2010 campaign, which must not benefit the present players.
Even if the T&TFF was honest in its assessment that money be split only after deducting expenditure, the local body calculated expenses from February 2005 while the deal with the players was done nine months later.
The income and expenses section had questionable figures too.
In near two years-a period that included six World Cup qualifiers and the farewell fixture for retired legend Russell Latapy-the T&TFF claimed to receive just $5,217 from its bar. The bar was clearly a monumental failure considering that, in the expenses column, $238,715 was subtracted for refreshments.
A paltry $20,000 was budgeted for the sale of banners over the same period, with $300,000 for broadcast rights as well as $9.3 and $8.6 million for ticket sales and sponsorship, respectively.
Yorke might have been surprised to note that the players were paying their own salaries too. The players' match fees, allowances, accommodation and transportation were all deducted from their World Cup bonus package, as were the T&TFF's "FIFA/CONCACAF dues", gate equipment and scouting fees.
Yorke does not hold an accounting degree, but he clearly felt that something was awry.
"We cannot see how we can build on anything if the contracts that we enter into are not worth the paper they are written on. It is for these reasons we now feel the need to say goodbye to the international stage," said Yorke, who read from a prepared statement on Friday.
It is Warner who agreed a contract with the Warriors, but, to date, only Groden has defended the T&TFF's interpretation of it.
Yorke was scheduled to leave Trinidad yesterday evening to return to his employers, Sunderland FC in England. The Warriors' 5-0 win over St Vincent might be the last time that local fans see him sport national colours.
T&TFF press officer Shaun Fuentes could not confirm Warner's whereabouts yesterday.