The 13 2006 "Soca Warriors" currently embroiled in a legal impasse with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) over World Cup bonuses have threatened to initiate liquidation proceedings if debts are not settled soon.
The players, through their lawyers, last month wrote to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee requesting their assistance in settling the matter.
The letter warned that, failing favourable responses on the matter, the Federation will be liquidated in order for the players to recover monies awarded to them by, first the UK-based Sports Dispute Resolution Panel, and then by the T&T High Court.
The SDRP awarded the players 50 per cent of proceeds associated with the 2006 World Cup campaign, but after the TTFF failed to settle the matter, claiming the players had breached the Panel's gag order it reached in the courts.
Justice Devindra Rampersad awarded the players two payments: an initial sum of $7.5 million—including legal fees incurred by them—and a further $4.2 million interim fee. Last February, they levied on the TTFF in an attempt to recover some of those funds, without success.
"We have informed the Federation that we will begin liquidation proceedings in the next six weeks," the letter stated. "We are left with no other choice because the players continue to suffer and they feel the football world has deserted them.
"We must reiterate that the TTFF appear to have no intention of voluntarily paying the players. They are continually ignoring orders of the court and the arbitration award, yet they continue to pay their expensive British QC's [Queen's Counsel] and lawyers in a seemingly unending attempt to deny payment of money that is plainly and legally due."
The letter claims that Government confirmed to the players through the Freedom of Information Act that the Federation received more than 18 million pounds (TT $180 million plus) in revenue associated with the 2006 World Cup, including qualification and participation grants, fees and sponsorship.
"The TTFF have never seriously disputed the £18 million pound figure, they have quite simply refused to pay," it read.
The players also accused the TTFF of presenting "false accounts" to the courts, and of not trying to recover from former special advisor Jack Warner, information on the accounts to show how the money was used.
They are specifically asking FIFA to investigate the use of T&T's FIFA participation grant, placed at 7,000,000 Swiss francs (TT$48 million), as well as the use of Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) funding—earmarked for technical development, planning and administration, as well as youth football—to pay TTFF staff.
The footballers said their pleas to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to investigate Warner, who is also Minister of National Security, have been ignored, and that Tim Kee has acknowledged their requests without offering a solution.
"It is with this background that we appeal to you to intervene. Is there such a thing as the football family?" the letter asked.
"They (the players) are not lawyers or businessmen," it added. "They played football (rather well) and they have not been paid for their efforts. Instead they have been subjected to continued and devious litigation tactics designed to avoid or postpone payment."
The World Cup 13 have requested that FIFA not allow any "Phoenix organisation" to replace the Federation if it falls into insolvency for failure to meet its debts.
"These players do not want to harm football in Trinidad and Tobago. It is an ultimate irony that the TTFF have engineered a situation where the players that were the source of so much national pride now find themselves in the grotesque position of having to liquidate the Federation they were once honoured to play for," the letter stated.
"This is a tragedy and it should never have been allowed to happen."
Attempts to contact TTFF president Tim Kee by cell phone yesterday proved unsuccessful.