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Thu, Jun

‘We’ve reached our limit’ says Bateau.
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Unpaid footballers fed up of TTFA’s false promises –

NATIONAL men’s football team defender Sheldon Bateau has called on David John-Williams, president of the TT Football Association (TTFA) to keep his promise and pay the outstanding fees to the T&T players, who have been owed match fees since the October 10, 2017 World Cup qualifier against the US.

Within that period, the men’s team, coached by Dennis Lawrence, have played eight friendly games, winning twice, drawing three and losing the other three.

The TTFA’s focus during the past year has been the much-publicised Home of Football project, at Balmain, Couva.

However, a number of people, and groups, within the football fraternity have openly complained of non-payment of salaries, absence of funding and a lack of respect by the local governing body.

Last week, the T&T futsal team earned a ruling in the High Court over the non-payment of salaries, while Stephen Hart, Carolina Morace (both ex-T&T coaches), Anton Corneal and Sheldon Walkes (present and past technical directors) also have legal matters with the TTFA.

Members of the T&T women team bemoaned the treatment they received during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers, and national youth team coach Russell Latapy recently spoke about his inability to get his outstanding dues from the TTFA.

Bateau, who plays for Krylia Sovetov Samara in Russia, admitted in an interview yesterday that the T&T players feel that their repeated queries over the payment of their fees (US$300 per match) are falling on deaf ears.

“We (men players) know for sure that they have financial problems,” said the T&T central defender. “One of the main problems is that we’re playing friendly games and (the TTFA) is collecting monies for these games. The money is going elsewhere besides dealing with the players who are playing in these games.

“... you can’t have players playing for (US) $300 and waiting a year to get it. For me that’s wrong.”

Bateau warned that the players can go on strike if their demands are not met by the TTFA and their president John-Williams.

“We, as players, always want to find the best solution,” he said. “(We) are willing to sit and talk. But when you try to reach out to him, sometimes he’s not willing to talk, he would send a response with someone else. Once in a blue moon we’ll get him to come face-to-face and talk.

“(On Tuesday) he offered to pay for two games but, two weeks ago, you spoke to us (Bateau, Marvin Phillip and captain Khaleem Hyland) and you gave us your word. So clearly, his words don’t mean anything. And that’s the games he’s playing with us over and over.”

Bateau pointed out, “For us now, it’s a matter of either you pay or we don’t play.”

With the advent of social media, matters concerning the national team are trending rapidly across the globe.

While Bateau is worried about the image the TTFA will now have, he hopes that the administrative body will see this as an opportunity to mend fences.

“It will definitely damage the image but, for us as players, I think it’s important that the world and the public knows what we’re dealing with,” Bateau said. “At the end of the day, (after) 90 minutes, we’re still being judged as the perfect team because we hide a lot of things.”

He added, “Now we’ve reached the limit. We accepted to play for (US) $300, which the president went out and said. It’s not something we’re proud of but we’re representing the national team and our country. At the end of the day, it’s about the respect.”