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TTFF reduced to shameful state

OH how the mighty have fallen! In less than six years, Trinidad and Tobago has gone from the euphoria of being the smallest country to ever qualify for the FIFA World Cup to the ignominy of the T&T Football Federation being levied upon by the same players who made us proud not so long ago.

In another sad chapter of the sordid tale that has evolved since those heady days in Germany in 2006, members of the national team fondly known as the Soca Warriors, accompanied by a court martial and police officers, moved into the TTFF office in Port of Spain on Wednesday and carted away furniture, computers, footballs and trophies.

The players were forced into such drastic action due to inaction by the Federation in complying with a High Court ruling, handed down since last October, which ordered that the TTFF should make a payment of $4.36 million as part settlement of the players' claim to half of the earnings generated by this country's qualification for the 2006 World Cup.

Those earnings have been estimated to be more than $200 million and the players were promised half of that amount by then special adviser to the T&T Football Federation and current Works Minister Jack Warner.

And it is long past the stage of "who said what" as the London-based Sport Dispute Resolution Panel, which was asked to arbitrate on the matter, ruled in 2008 that the Soca Warriors were owed 50 per cent of all commercial revenue earned by the TTFF from the 2006 World Cup.

Following that judgment, and after inordinate delays, the issue was eventually heard in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court, with Justice Devindra Rampersad also ruling in favour of the players.

Why has the Football Federation not complied with the ruling and paid the players what is owed to them. And with the current executive of the T&T Football Federation claiming that it does not have the money to pay the Soca Warriors, the next question is what has become of the more than $200 million.

Mr Warner—with the help of the TTFF's accounts, which have been described as inadequate and "cloudy" by Justice Rampersad— should answer that question and clear up all the grey areas surrounding the World Cup revenue.

For there is no reason for the TTFF, a once noble and respectable organisation, to be reduced to such utter embarrassment by what transpired this week.

The players have a legitimate right to what was promised to them by Mr Warner due to their exploits on the football field, when T&T's Soca Warriors were everyone's darlings.

Instead, the goodwill and free publicity arising from their performances have been replaced by shame and scandal.

This should not be allowed to continue and it is long past the time for the players to receive their just reward. Also, and more importantly, get the sport of football back on an even keel, with proper administration and programmes in place, so that the achievements of 2006 do not become a distant memory, never to be repeated.

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