NEWS
02/08/2012 07:45 EST | Updated 04/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Trinidad World Cup veterans seize office equipment in pay dispute

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - Trinidad and Tobago World Cup veterans have seized office equipment from the country's football federation Wednesday over a long-standing payment dispute.

Accompanied by a group of policemen and a court official, 13 players who represented the Caribbean country during the 2006 World Cup loaded two trucks with computers, desks and other items from offices of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.

"While we know sale of the items will not amount to much, we had to do something," said Brent Sancho, a former defender who is leader of the players' group.

Sancho complained that the players' demand for millions of dollars in outstanding bonus payments owed to them for qualifying and playing at the World Cup in 2006 had been ignored by the federation.

Last year, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad ordered the federation to pay some US$1.1 million to the players as an interim payment until the full figure owed could be paid.

In a Wednesday statement, the federation acknowledged that $4.6 million was still due to the players as of October 2011, but said it "does not have the resources to fulfil this request for such payment."

It blamed the discrepancy on former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who led Caribbean football for more than two decades until resigning all his duties last June to avoid a FIFA investigation into alleged election bribery. The federation said Warner had long had control of the accounts.

Sancho said Warner, who remains a government lawmaker, is due in court next week to present the accounts.

The federation said it "fully expects Mr. Warner to comply with the instructions of the court to have the accounts ready and delivered to the court" by Feb. 14.

Public disputes began in 2006 when then-captain Dwight Yorke and 12 teammates announced they would quit the team unless the football federation rewarded the players with 50 per cent of profits generated during the team's run during the World Cup at Germany in June. The athletes later withdrew their threat, saying their lawyers would fight the case in court.

Trinidad, which became the smallest country in size and population to ever qualify for the World Cup, was eliminated in the first round.

On Wednesday, Sancho said the players' next step is to go after the assets of Oliver Camps, the former federation president who resigned last year as FIFA banned other Caribbean officials for their part in an alleged bribery plot involving former presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam.