“Why isn’t mummy here?”
This is a question that often comes from the tiny lips of four-year-old Danielle Ramsoomair.
Former national defender, Brent Sancho, who has represented several players from the 2006 World Cup squad in a bonus dispute with the T&T Football Association (TTFA), yesterday blasted the local governing body for football, for its failure to adhere to payment dates, and for its (TTFA’s) call for patience in the matter.
“TTFA made a deal. If they decided to use money meant for youth development or to fund various programmes, that was their choice. If TTFA want to avoid returning to court in February, they are going about it the wrong way,” said Sancho in a three-page letter addressed to TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee.
This was in response to a recent newspaper article in which TTFA director of communications, Shaun Fuentes, was quoted as saying the TTFA used funds originally intended for development and national teams to pay the players in the first lump sum, after both parties settled.
According to Sancho, following the payment of the lump sum, no subsequent payments were received on the dates agreed to by the TTFA.
In response to the Newsday article printed on Sunday, Sancho said, “How dare he (Fuentes) criticise players for wanting what was promised? How dare he place the blame and lack of funding for the youths and women at our feet? Just tell the truth, Mr Fuentes. TTFA made a deal that they could not keep. Now the players are angry. Accept it. Stop making excuses and own up to your failure.”
Sancho asked why should the player be patient as the bonuses were seven years overdue.
“Isn’t that patience enough? And, then we still waited for another three months. It’s childish and ridiculous of you, as intelligent men to suggest that we be patient. After the abuse that we suffered from the previous regime, why should we expect any different?”
Sancho admitted to publically criticising the TTFA for failing to adhere to its promise, and acknowledged the TTFA’s right to explain the delays, but said the players do not have to accept them.
He said: “Any competent administration would have fully funded their youth programmes, their women’s teams and paid their players and coaches. How? By working with us (the World Cup players) to reclaim the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been proven to have disappeared during the TTFA reign.
“You have the evidence to get back the money that was taken, money that can fund your programmes for the next decade. And, while crying about the poor youth, how about taking back the Concacaf Centre of Excellence? Our national team coach can’t find a decent surface to train on, and you can’t afford to rent the facility that was built to develop the Caribbean’s footballers.”
Sancho indicated that the players’ intention of returning to court, is due to the inability of the TTFA to honour the agreement.
Responding to Sancho’s letter, Fuentes said the TTFA has been in contact with the players and said the association does not intend on engaging in a public spat. He said the TTFA is currently suffering from financial limitations, and is doing everything in its power to finally put the matter to rest.