LOADING THE TRUCK: Soca Warrior Anthony Wolfe, foreground, directs movers outside the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) office on Dundonald Street in Port of Spain during yesterday's levy action to recoup $4.2 million. –Photo: ROBERTO CODALLO

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WARRIORS STRIKE

National footballers levy on TTFF for millions owed

By Ian Prescott ian.prescott@trinidadexpress.com

Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) president Oliver Camps may soon get an unwanted visit.

Levy action was taken against the TTFF yesterday on behalf of 13 former and current national footballers who are seeking to recoup money owed to them. And Players Association president Brent Sancho also promised that Camps will soon face similar levy action. Camps was TTFF president for well over a decade before resigning last year.

Accompanied by a marshal of the court and police officers, four members of Trinidad and Tobago's 2006 World Cup team yesterday visited the TTFF office on Dundonald Street, where they carted away computers and furniture belonging to the Federation. Present were Soca Warriors Brent Sancho, Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray and Anthony Wolfe. The action began around 10 a.m. and lasted over three hours. Sancho said although regrettable, the levy was necessary.

"We are planning on bringing a similar levy action on Mr Camps because most of the injustice against us took place when he was president of the TTFF," Sancho declared.

Yesterday's action comes out of a longstanding dispute between the players and the TTFF over revenues derived from Trinidad and Tobago's historic qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

It is estimated that the Local Organising Committee (LOC) raised over TT$40 million in revenue from government and the private sector during the campaign.

The players have argued that in 2006, former LOC chairman and TTFF special adviser Jack Warner promised them a 50 per cent share of all World Cup revenues. The players first won a judgment from the London-based Sport Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP), which ruled in their favour on May 19, 2008, The Trinidad and Tobago High Court followed similarly.

On October 11, 2011, Justice Devindra Rampersad gave the Federation seven days to pay an interim sum of approximately $4.2 million (US$710,000) to the 13 players. It was the second payment ordered by the judge following an initial $7.5 million payment made by the TTFF earlier in 2011.

Players expecting to benefit from the judgment were Brent Sancho, Shaka Hislop, Kelvin Jack, Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray, Avery John, Aurtis Whitley, Collin Samuel, Evans Wise, Anthony Wolfe, Cornell Glen, Kenwyne Jones and Stern John. However, the TTFF had not made the second payment. Sancho said yesterday's action against the TTFF was regrettable, but necessary.

"This is not our fault," Sancho declared. "To date the TTFF have not paid a cent towards the High Court judgment. All we have gotten from them is disrespect. They have totally ignored the court judgment. And while carting away some furniture will not recoup the monies owed to us, it at least shows them our intent."

Acting TTFF president Watson said of yesterday's action: "It was meant to embarrass us, and it has. I don't think seizing the furniture was an appropriate action because it still will not clear the amount that is owed.

"I have inherited this from the former president (Camps) and it is now up to me to find some sort of settlement. What it means is that we do not have furniture in our office. The day-to-day running of football is affected, but the development programme of our national team continues. It has not affected the programme of the National Under-23, Under-17 and Under-15 teams.

The Express yesterday also attempted to get a response from Works Minister Jack Warner, who was sent a note during yesterday's sitting of the House of Representatives. Warner did not respond and also said he could not speak when approached by other members of the media.

'Warriors were owed'

THE London-based Sport Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) ruled in 2008 that under the terms of a contract agreed to by FIFA Executive Committee member Jack Warner, T&T's Soca Warriors were owed 50 per cent of all commercial revenue earned by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) from the 2006 World Cup.

The players took the TTFF to court after it refused to pay. The Federation claimed the players had broken a gag order on the SDRP ruling and, as such, was no longer bound by the agreement.

In their lawsuit, the footballers had requested an interim payment of roughly $1.8 million each and their share of the $88 million which the TTFF claimed to have received as commercial revenue from the World Cup.

High Court Justice Devindra Rampersad, on July 29, 2010, ordered the TTFF to honour the agreement. An appeal was filed by the TTFF but was dismissed in November 2010.

There were initially 16 players contesting the suit, but three of them—Marvin Andrews, Chris Birchall and Ian Cox—withdrew from the matter.

The remaining players who continued their action against the TTFF and, by extension, its president, Oliver Camps, were Brent Sancho, Shaka Hislop, Kelvin Jack, Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray, Avery John, Aurtis Whitley, Collin Samuel, Evans Wise, Anthony Wolfe, Cornell Glen, Kenwyne Jones and Stern John.

On February 25, 2011, Rampersad ordered the TTFA to pay over $7 million as an interim payment to the 13 players. In delivering his ruling, Rampersad expressed concern over what he described as the inadequate and "cloudy" way in which the TTFF's accounting books were presented to the courts.

Following the judgment, Camps promised the TTFF will pay the money even if it has to borrow to do so. Camps said the Federation was cash-strapped and would have had to turn to Warner for assistance.

A second interim payment of $4.36 million was ordered by Rampersad on October 11, 2011. The payment should have been made by October 18, 2011.

The judge further ordered that Warner, the TTFF's special adviser, file an affidavit by October 17, 2011, stating why he should not be joined as a third defendant in the matter.

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