Minister of Sport Brent Sancho said he would continue to help the national men's senior football team to qualify for the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia, with or without Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (T&TFA) president Raymond Tim Kee.
Sancho was yesterday responding to statements made by Tim Kee in a four-page letter to the media on the weekend, in which the Port of Spain mayor said Sancho had shown “a lack of respect” in dealing with the TTFA.
Tim Kee had also disputed Sancho's public statements about the TTFA on matters of transparency and accountability, the promised Government funding and communication between the TTFA and the Ministry of Sport.
But contacted yesterday, Sancho said: “I have absolutely no interest in Mr Tim Kee's political utterances. I want to make it very clear he (Tim Kee) has a political agenda and he can try to pretend otherwise. My main focus is with or without his inclusion, to chart a course to the national men's senior football team reaching the World Cup and putting things in place necessary for them to attain this goal.
“I will do whatever in my power to make sure. It is my clear goal and focus — the players and coaching staff and football team — as it has always been my focus since my inception (as Minister of Sport),” Sancho told the Express.
The former Soca Warrior said his Ministry continues to pay the coaching staff and players since he claimed the TTFA had reneged on its promise to both parties.
Sancho said the Ministry has contributed 95 per cent of the TTFA's source of funds and has continued to support national football.
“So much so that in the last year, this fiscal year has been a landmark year as it relates to funding to the TTFA. It has been unprecedented funding and a record-breaking year as it relates to funding from the Ministry of Sport towards the TTFA,” he said
Sancho said the Ministry is in the final stages of purchasing the parcel of land for the TTFA GOAL project, a grassroots programme that aims to target all areas in the country.
“While Tim Kee continues or tries to continue to use the players and football as a political pawn, we at the Ministry and this Government has continued to work extremely hard to ensure that football continues to strive, continues to reach all of the goals set,” Sancho said.
On the issue of the ongoing court matter between some of the 2006 Soca Warriors team and the TTFA, Sancho insisted he is no longer part of the litigating team and Tim Kee should have known this since he has had extensive discussions with current Soca Warrior Kenwyne Jones, one oft the litigants in that case.
“ We have made it simple at the Ministry, in what we ask for and continue to ask for...the TTFA to be accountable and transparent. That is crux of the matter,” he said.
Asked if the TTFA had not furnished the Ministry with audited accounts for 2008-2012, Sancho replied: “ We have asked and received information about CONCACAF monies for their (T&T's) participation in the Gold Cup but up to this minute we still have not gotten any official documentation other than what we were told CONCACAF gave them (TTFA). They (TTFA) have said to us they have paid certain bills with this money but lo and behold the Ministry is left with the bill in our hand and we have had to cover again all they have said they had paid. So clearly they have not been transparent and honest in what they have said they have distributed,” Sancho concluded.