The money dispute involving members of the 2006 Soca Warriors team and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) is shifting gears from London to the Port-of-Spain High Court. The TTFF, the Guardian learnt, is no longer interested in arbitration proceedings in London. So, the TTFF, through its lawyers, have petitioned the local court seeking to have the money dispute settled in Trinidad. The matter was called before Justice Gregory Smith in the Port-of-Spain High Court on Wednesday. There is an application from the TTFF to lift an order which had prevented the local High Court from hearing the money dispute until the conclusion of arbitration proceedings in London.
The local football association said it was no longer interested in the London proceedings because lawyers representing the 16 players breached the confidentiality clause last year in comments made to a local newspaper and to other international media houses, after the T&T Guardian had exclusively published the judgment of the arbitrator. Hearing of the application to remove the order has been put to June 16. The postponement of the application further delays the attempt by the players to recover money they claim are due to them as a result of the 2006 World Cup campaign. It will be heard in the middle of the Soca Warriors campaign for South Africa 2010.
On May 18, 2008, British arbitrator Ian Mill QC ruled that the Soca Warriors were entitled to 50 per cent of the profits of the TTFF derived from the Road to Germany campaign. But the proceedings never progressed because of the comments made after the ruling. The dispute between the players and the TTFF which had its genesis in 2004 when T&T began the World Cup journey to Germany. The players had originally agreed to 30 percent of the net profts, but that was changed to 50 percent following meetings with the TTFF and its special advisor, Jack Warner. According to Mill, the 50 percent was finally agreed upon on June 12, 2006. Both parties had agreed that the hearings would be in private and no one was to disclose the contents of the proceedings or judgment.
The 16 players who took the TTFF to arbitration were, Marvin Andrews, Christopher Birchall, Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray, Ian Cox, Cornell Glen, Shaka Hislop, Avery John, Stern John, Kenwyne Jones, Kelvin Jack, Collin Samuel, Brent Sancho, Aurtis Whitley, Evans Wise and Anthony Wolfe. Representing the players were British attorneys Rupert Butler and Mike Townley, while Englishman William Mc Commick assisted by Trinidad lawyers Om Lalla and Kelvin Ramkissoon appeared for the TTFF. The players contended that after T&T defeated Bahrain 2-1 to qualify for the World Cup Finals, the TTFF received US$5.6 million from Fifa. As a result, the players argued that there was an inevitable commercial spin in that sponsors paid large sums of money to be associated with any of the teams reaching the finals.