INDEPENDENT Senator Helen Drayton yesterday said the multi-million-dollar payout to the former Soca Warriors is an “injustice” to taxpayers and would remain so unless the money is recuperated from those who actually owed the money to the footballers.
Speaking in the Senate, Drayton said while she was “happy” for the footballers, she questioned why taxpayers must always foot the bill for “dishonest” people.
On Monday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar pledged US$1.3 million (TT$8.2 million) to the footballers who took this country to the World Cup finals in 2006.
Persad-Bissessar said while the Government was under no legal obligation to pay the money owed to the Soca Warriors—then promised to them by former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) adviser and Government minister Jack Warner—the funds would be paid to the “football heroes” in honour of the patriotic history they created in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.
Members of the national team have been embroiled in a legal battle with the TTFA for the past eight years for money owed to them.
Persad-Bissessar said the judgment in the arbitration was that the players were entitled to 50 per cent of the net profits the TTFA derived from the “Road to Germany 2006” campaign.
That figure was settled at US$3 million, but to date the TTFA has only paid the players US$1.7 million.
During her contribution to the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Service) (Amendment) Bill 2014, Drayton raised the issue of the multi-million-dollar payment to the footballers.
“I hear all the commendation for that (the announcement of the payout to the footballers) and I am happy for the footballers, but why the taxpayer must always pick up a bill for somebody who was dishonest,” she said.
“We did it for HCU (Hindu Credit Union), we did it for CLICO, why must we always pick up those bills with no consequence to the persons involved and then we pat ourselves on the back that we have done good for a few people,” Drayton added.
“We may have done good for them (the footballers), but it is an injustice to the rest of society, unless you are going to find a way to recuperate that money from the people who owed it to the footballers,” she said.