Almost five years after the Soca Warriors secured qualification to the 2006 World Cup, 13 of their players are still owed money by Jack Warner, the powerful president of the T&T football federation.
He is a kingmaker when it comes to keeping Sepp Blatter in power or awarding the World Cup. Andrew Jennings, the BBC reporter who has made exposing corruption in sports highest echelons has extensively documented Warner’s career in corruption and nepotism.
The TTFF after the World Cup declared that they had made no money. They declared a revenue of £1.5 million and a expenditure of almost the same amount. This amounted to about a paltry sum of £500 each for the players. Naturally, the players refused. Warner accused them of ‘greed.’ Later it was revealed that the federation had made nearly £15 million.
A UK court decision in May 2008 ruled overwhelmingly in favour of the players receiving a substantial settlement. But after two years none of the players have seen any of the money.
What is galling about this situation is that the Soca Warriors were one of the big stories of the 2006 World Cup on and off the field. They held off Sweden with a man down. And kept England at bay till that fateful moment when Peter Crouch scored by climbing over Brent Sancho pulling on his dreadlocks. Toru Kamikawa, the referee completely missed the call as thousands of pictures and video footage showed the foul as it unfolded.
The Warriors were also followed by thousands of passionate fans whose joie de vivre livened up the World Cup. Those were promising times.
Many of the players have since retired or are out of contract and now cannot depend on a paycheck to keep them and their families above water. Kelvin Jack is one of them. At 34 years, he was getting £80,000 a year at Gillingham before he broke his leg. With his future uncertain, a nice healthy payoff would be very welcome.
Brent Sancho, whose dreadlocks helped Peter Crouch score was once again front and center when he scored an own goal against Paraguay, which effectively ended T&T’s progress out of the 2006 World Cup group stages. He has since retired from international football and now plays for the USL Rochester Rhinos. Sancho’s decision to retire was made in disgust at the TTFF reneging on their promise of payment.