Thursday, February 22, 2018

Mr Warner must give account

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Mark Fraser

 The payment of money owed to the Soca Warriors, which should have been an occasion for pure celebration, has been tainted by two factors. First, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar timed the announcement to coincide with her leaving to attend the World Cup finals with her grandson. 

Despite her assertion that no tax dollars would be spent on the trip, Persad-Bissessar’s joining of the two announcements was clearly intended to deflect criticism of her putting her personal trips before the affairs of the nation.

The second taint comes from the Soca Warriors themselves, who intend to continue their lawsuit against the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

The ex-players explained on Wednesday that the TTFA is the only avenue through which they can get the association’s former special adviser, disgraced FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, to account for the millions of dollars raised during the 2006 World Cup campaign.

ESPN analyst Shaka Hislop—an integral member of that national squad which made us all so proud—said that was the reason they had not ended legal proceedings against the Football Association.

“There is a one-hundred-million-dollar hole that Mr Warner has not addressed and so far refuses to address,” Mr Hislop told TV6, referring to half of the estimated $200-plus million that was generated on the Soca Warriors’ historic Road to Germany, when T&T became the smallest-ever nation to qualify for the world’s biggest sporting event.

The players’ intentions may be very noble, said Hislop, stating: “We will get our legal minds around it and see how we can make him accountable and not deny the young boys and girls the opportunities we enjoyed.”

But we wonder what effect all of this continued litigation will have on the penniless Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, which will continue to be looking over its shoulder to see where the next lawsuit is coming from.

While agreeing it is a national disgrace that such a vast sum of money could simply disappear into thin air, the footballers should consider another course of action, which will allow the TTFA to move along and do what it was established to do.

There are many others who are owed by the Football Association, including current national coach Stephen Hart, and hopefully those dedicated members of the backroom staff will be paid their just due as they attempt to take Trinidad and Tobago to another World Cup.

With that in mind, the ex-Soca Warriors should seek some other method to get Mr Warner to explain what became of all that money.

At the end of the day, by whatever means necessary, he must be called to account.