Football money sparks row in Trinidad

Saturday, October 13, 2012    

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — A dispute has erupted between the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and the government over the accounting of TT$11 million to fund the Soca Warriors' ill-fated World Cup campaign.

The tiff has sparked a war of words between the country's sports minister Anil Roberts and chairman of All Sport Promotions, Anthony Harford.

Harford's company was hired by the TTFF in July last year to manage a range of services in support of the national senior team including sponsorship negotiation and match management.

However, Roberts says the $11 million have not been properly accounted for and says auditors have found more than $5 million in financial discrepancies.

"The required invoice bills and receipts were not included with the 24 items in your statement," said Roberts, quoting a letter from the Ministry of Sports to Harford during his contribution on the 2012 budget.

"The ministry of sport would like you to provide the required invoices bills and receipts to cover expenditure of TT $5,388, 066.75."

However, Harford has refuted the sports ministers' claim saying the $11 million was accounted for in a report sent to the ministry in January in which a covering letter invited queries.

"That is wholly inaccurate and the minister is well aware of the circumstances. We provided interim accounts at the end of October. By that time we had spent $5.6 million. We gave accounts to the ministry at the end of October for that amount of money," said the chairman of All Sports Promotions.

"At the end of the World Cup campaign we then accounted, not only for the eleven million dollars that was given by the government, but also from the sponsorships and gate receipts from all the games played."

The dispute at one staged threatened Trinidad and Tobago's participation in the Caribbean Football Union qualifying round after government had stopped funding.

However, the Soca Warriors have since flown to St Kitts to compete in the CFU competition currently underway after the government resumed funding.

"The tickets and all the participation necessary for a national team will be seen about by the ministry line by line," declared Roberts, the sports minister.

"So Trinidad and Tobago is going to the Caribbean Cup with value and with tax payers' money being spent properly," he added.

Meanwhile, the TTFF has thrown its support behind Harford in his dispute with the government.

Acting president Lennox Watson has issued a release calling on Roberts to withdraw his statement claiming unsatisfactory accounting.

"The TTFF wishes to place on record its disappointment with the disparaging remarks made against Mr Anthony Harford, chairman of All Sport Promotions," the release said.

"The TTFF further confirms that it received from All Sport a full statement of accounts for the entire allocation of $11 million from the Government, plus an additional $1.3 million earned from sponsors, gate receipts etc."



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