Govt intervenes to save CFU final
A crucial intervention by the Trinidad and Tobago government has rescued the final of the CFU Caribbean Cup scheduled to be play in Montego Bay last night.
This is because Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors made the decision to boycott the final against Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, in protest over the non-payment of salaries and other arrears which amounted to TT$10 million.
Coach Stephen Hart, born in Trinidad but based in Canada, was also said to be owed significant sums and was also at the end of his tether.
However, Trinidad and Tobago Sports Minister Dr Rupert Griffith gave the national team the assurance that government would settle the outstanding monies owed them.
England-based star Kenwyne Jones, acting as spokesman for the team, said they were pleased by government’s intervention in the matter.
“We are happy that they stepped in to sort out the situation. So, as a result of the assurance given we are holding them to their word and game is on,” said the Cardiff City striker.
“We cannot comment further but we are going to wait until we get those cheques in our hands as promised again.”
Last night, an upset Soca Warriors decided to boycott the final because of the monies owed them by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.
Jones told the Trinidad Guardian newspaper that even though the action was drastic, the players were frustrated because of the number of broken promises.
“It always affects the situation and it has been going on for a very long time,” an upset Jones said.
“We are fed up of the football association making promises and telling a lot of untruths. No one wants to be a part of football and we are in a position that is not even at breaking point.”
Jones claimed that Hart had been on the brink of leaving Jamaica to return to Canada with his family on Sunday because he was frustrated that thousands of dollars owed to him had not yet been paid.
He said the players and technical staff also faced the same dilemma, noting some of them had not been paid for years.
Contacted on the matter yesterday, TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips confirmed the team was owed millions. He said a Cabinet note was passed about two weeks ago approving a sum of $10 million. That sum, he said, will be to pay the debt and take the Soca Warriors through to the Gold Cup next year.
“We sent a note to Cabinet explaining the situation and the millions of dollars we owed,” Phillips said.
“We are now in the process of getting those funds drawn down. We were promised part last week and got nothing. When we enquired we were told today [Monday] and still nothing.”
Phillips said he was doing all he could to get the money to pay the team.
“We are dealing with a lot, including having a new permanent secretary at the Ministry of Sport. We have been liaising with the ministry for months now and happy that we actually got this breakthrough of the $10 million. Payment is imminent though.”
He said in 2012 they were already $4 million in arrears to the team and the players were despondent to the point that it would affect the final.
“Understandably, they are dealing with this for a long time but I am pushing very hard to address this as soon as possible.”