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GOLD CUP THREAT

Players' legal action could ground T&T teams

By Kern De Freitas kern.defreitas@trinidadexpress.com

Trinidad and Tobago is in danger of missing the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and indeed all international football, if the 2006 World Cup "Soca Warriors" succeed in their legal attempts to liquidate the T&T Football Federation (TTFF).

Brent Sancho, one of the 13 players currently embroiled in the ongoing legal battle with the Federation that has stretched into its seventh year, revealed that the planned action could take effect soon if the players have their way.

On behalf of the players, Sancho met with the TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee on Monday, and the former national defender told the Express yesterday that he had informed Tim Kee that despite their willingness to discuss the matter, the players will not stop their legal action.

"We are not going to stop any of the proceedings we have started, or are in the process of starting," a solemn Sancho declared. "We have been down this road before. As soon as we stopped the process, the charges of contempt with (former TTFF secretary Richard) Groden or (ex-president Oliver) Camps (and other matters in the past), those talks stopped."

Sancho acknowledged that Tim Kee and the Federation are in a difficult position, and reiterated several times that it is not the players' wish to dissolve T&T football. They are determined, however, to find out what has happened to the 2006 Germany World Cup revenue.

The players endured a successful arbitration at the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) in London, which awarded them 50 percent of the earnings from the 2006 World Cup. The TTFF failed to honour that ruling, and the matter proceeded to the High Court in T&T.

The players have been awarded two interim sums totalling close to $12 million, but have yet to be paid.

"(Tim Kee and I) spoke," said Sancho, "and one thing is for sure. I made the players' position quite clear. We're not going to stop anything that we're in the process of doing. I made that clear with him.

"He had met with Mr (Sepp) Blatter, (president of FIFA). He expressed the optimism he has in terms of paying the debts (owed to the players)."

Sancho said the players are "very, very unhappy" with the drawn out process to be compensated by the Federation, and "a high level of mismanagement of funds".

"It is something that I think personally is a national shame. This is a national issue now, and there is a real possibility that it can bring TTFF to an end which would mean there would be no football."

The papers initiating the insolvency proceedings could be submitted as early as this week, and the players are hoping to halt the TTFF's functions, and also to gain access to TTFF accounts, and possibly the trail of those funds.

"We have unearthed that the money has clearly disappeared," Sancho stated. "From some of the paperwork we have got our hands on, you can see where money came in but not where money has come out.

"(The TTFF) have all the tools in their possession to find out where the money has gone."

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