Jack Warner still won’t pay Soca Warriors their 2006 World Cup money
The 2006 World Cup generated billions of dollars – but not a cent has been paid to the heroic Soca Warriors from Trinidad & Tobago who say they’ve been ripped off by FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
Twenty-eight months after the final whistle the team from the smallest country ever to qualify are still being denied their share of revenues from sponsors and other sources, despite defeating Warner at an arbitration hearing.
As soon as it looked likely Trinidad would qualify for Germany the Warner family put their football money-making machine into gear.
At the travel agents owned by Warner and his wife Maureen, son Daryan began acquiring, illicitly with daddy’s help, more than 5,000 finals tickets later sold for an estimated $3 million profit.
Other son Daryll Warner was put in charge of a private company, ‘Local Organising Company Germany 2006 Ltd’ which would vacuum up millions of dollars in fees from sponsors wanting to be associated with the Warriors.
Warner Snr, who terms himself ‘Special Advisor’ to the Trinidad football federation, would negotiate directly with the players about their share of the proceeds.
In early January 2006 Warner installed himself at the super-luxury five-star Mandarin Hotel in Mayfair (“One of the capital’s most distinguished hotels”) and the players were summoned to his presence. They wanted to know, what had sponsors paid? What other income from tickets, TV and the government? I’ll have a spreadsheet drawn up, promised Warner.
The months pass, the team trains but the promised spreadsheet doesn’t appear. ‘Soon’ promises Warner. ‘We’re working on it,’ say his aides. Days before the Warriors’ first game, against Sweden, goalkeeper Shaka Hislop asks Warner yet again. ‘Sorry,’ says Jack, ‘no time now until after the tournament is over.’
Nonetheless the team play brilliantly to hold Sweden to a goalless draw. Then the festering anger boils up. Every time they touch the ball they’re making money for Warner – and getting nothing themselves. They demand Warner come to their hotel but he arrives so late most – but not all - have gone to bed.
One player told me, ‘Warner still hadn’t told us how much sponsors were paying and what our share was going to be. Many of our squad play in minor leagues around the world, don’t earn much, had worked hard to get to the final 32 teams. Their reasonable expectation was enough to set up pension funds, retire with some dignity.’
Warner must have realised that if he didn’t calm them fast, he might not have a team for the game against England in three days time. OK, he said. I’ll give you 50% - and I’m so proud of your achievements.
The Warriors could hold up their heads after losing 2-0 to the millionaire England players and lost no respect going down another two goals to Paraguay – and then packed their bags.