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Shaka Spells It Out

The war of words between Trinidad and Tobago's veteran players and the country's soccer leadership continues.

In a letter distributed to media today, FC Dallas's Shaka Hislop, the Howard University graduate and star of T&T's World Cup effort last summer, criticized CONCACAF President Jack Warner for his comments about the dispute between the players and the T&T federation. Warner, a special advisor to the federation, had commended T&T leaders last Friday for a "principled stand in resisting being blackmailed by certain players."

The players are upset about World Cup bonuses that they claim were promised but not paid out. Those players did not play for T&T in the Gold Cup, and the young squad was eliminated in the first round.

Hislop's letter is below:

Dear Mr. Warner,

I am writing to you as President of the newly formed Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT). I and everyone else at FPATT have been occupying ourselves with our launch and the business of representing our general membership. FPATT would like to join you in commending the courageous showing of the young Soca Warriors in this year's Gold Cup tournament especially in, as you commented, its final drawn match against Guatemala when it played the match with 10 men for all of 58 minutes. It is this same courage that won the hearts of millions around the world at last year's World Cup. It truly was delightful to witness. They made us all proud.

Your last outburst though has prompted me to write in defense of the characters the most successful team in our nation's history against your latest slanderous attack. In response to your latest accusations, it is a person's human right to legal counsel. Your opposition and the TTFF's flailing attempts to deny them this right points to stratagem. In all my years as a professional player I have always retained the services of a lawyer to oversee all my negotiations, as I'm sure you have given your many legal incongruities of late. This has never prevented me from entering into talks with anyone. Furthermore these players have always been honoured to wear the red, black and white of Trinidad and Tobago and have never ruled themselves unavailable for national selection as incorrectly suggested. They have always been available to "sit down around a table and talk", albeit with counsel. Indeed countless efforts to resolve this issue and promote transparency within the national game have seen the TTFF stand steadfast in their intrepidity.

What they are seeking is an impartial ruling as to whether their claim, which they believe they are contractually entitled to, is "remotely justified" (as you put it) or not. You have continually proven yourself heavily biased and opinionated in this matter when in truth, in your capacity as CONCACAF President, you should be the one to advise on the impasse. The players who represented T&T in the World Cup are all professional footballers; this is their livelihood. This cannot be interpreted as "greed", or even worse holding anyone "to ransom". The absurdity of this statement and the blase with which it has been bandied about is beyond me, as it should be to someone in your standing. This whole episode has shown the importance of a players' association to the modern game. President Blatter in his recent address to his delegates commented on the efforts FIFA had made "to include players in the decision-making process by signing a memorandum of understanding with FIFPro, the international players' organization". The TTFF must now follow FIFA's lead in recognizing and working with FPATT in an effort to take our game, both at the national and international levels, forward.
I look forward to your response.

Yours Sincerely,
Shaka Hislop
President, FPATT

By Steve Goff  |  June 18, 2007; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  World  
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"In all my years as a professional player I have always retained the services of a lawyer to oversee all my negotiations, as I'm sure you have given your many legal incongruities of late."


Posted by: Chest Rockwell | June 18, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Shaka's obviously not brown-nosing:
"In all my years as a professional player I have always retained the services of a lawyer to oversee all my negotiations, as I'm sure you have given your many legal incongruities of late." Jack's a jerk and it's great to see his chain pulled.

Posted by: Postmaster | June 18, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I love it Shaka! Warner is a total snake - always has been.

Posted by: Kevin | June 18, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

is there a term that the CONCACAF President is elected to? How long is our region going to continue to be under his thumb? Does the USSF want him out?

Posted by: pat | June 18, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

seriously. how long does a corrupt bum like Jack Warner get to run the confederation? I suppose like all FIFA leadership jobs it's all about paying off the right people. One imagines that Jack pays off the little Caribbean federations to keep electing him.

Posted by: Glenn | June 18, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

found it on CONCACAF's website, the President's term was extended to 2007:

"In order to conform CONCACAF's election cycle to FIFA's election cycle (which was changed from even-numbered years to odd-numbered years), the terms of the members of CONCACAF's Executive Committee as of 2006, including the President, shall be extended one additional year so that those members of the CONCACAF Executive Committee that were to conclude in 2006 shall now conclude in 2007"

have elections for the next President happened?

Posted by: pat | June 18, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I would love more public transparency into the political power plays within CONCACAF and FIFA. I think one cannot separate the two. I do know that Warner's position within FIFA is solidified by his loyalty to Blatter. This loyalty is rewarded with patronage from Blatter in the form of FIFA committee positions. I believe CONCACAF in turn keeps Warner around for the purposes of regional influence to FIFA. I also feel like Warner has been backed previously by many of the Caribbean members of CONCACAF.

Posted by: CPRoyale | June 18, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Booya Shaka!

Well done Mr. Hislop. It's about time somebody called Warner onto the canvas.

Posted by: Ali G | June 18, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Can I dream that maybe, just maybe, tiny Trinidad and Tobago may put into motion events that lead to transparancy and accountability within FIFA?

Posted by: Kinney | June 18, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow. "blackmail," "legal incongruities," "human right to legal counsel." Thanks Steve, this is great stuff.

I hope the FPATT prevails, but Kickback Jack hasn't been around for so long because he's an honorable man. It's clearly a conflict of interest for the president of a national federation to lead a regional one. Does this happen elsewhere?

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | June 18, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Finally someone is standing up to Warner and the TTFA. If enough voices join in this could be eventually be the catalyst that will not just knock Warner out of commission but rock FIFA to its core. Think the IOC was rotten... just wait!

Posted by: Dave | June 18, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Correct me if I'm wrong, but every football federation in CONCACAF has a vote when selecting the new CONCACAF President. Therefore, large federations such as US or Mexico don't have much control over the election process.

Jack Warner has been the CONCACAF president since 1990 and has just been elected to a new term until 2011 this past March (he ran unopposed).

It is obvious Jack has a good handle on many of the votes from the smaller Caribbean nations that are more easily influenced than the big boys. Warner is a valuable ally of FIFA Pres. Sepp Blatter, since he can deliver a nice block of CONCACAF countries that count for FIFA elections as well. Therefore, there's nothing USSF nor anyone else in the world can do about this situation.

Posted by: Alex | June 18, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Warner's a scumball.

Always has been. He's not magically going to change because we want him to. Best of luck, Shaka. I'm pulling for you but it's a tough row you've got to hoe.

Posted by: Golazo | June 18, 2007 8:00 PM | Report abuse

"Warner is no stranger to controversy, having been fined and reprimanded recently by FIFA for his part in the resale of World Cup tickets by a travel agency controlled by his family."

He is pure quality.

If Mexico and the US qualify for the final they should boycott the game to send a real signal to FIFA and CONCACAF to get their act together. The only ones being blackmailed are the citizens of the world by FIFA.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 18, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Good on Shaka! Warner is a crook and I love when he's called on it!

Posted by: DB | June 18, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

"If Mexico and the US qualify for the final they should boycott the game to send a real signal to FIFA and CONCACAF to get their act together."

That would be pretty amazing. I don't know if there's any precedent for it, I'm not sure how much difference it would make, and it's hard to imagine U.S. and Mexican players and coaches getting together and agreeing on that sort of thing. But it's fun to think about the attention it would get.

It would never happen though, especially with the Confederations Cup berth at stake.

Posted by: Joe S. | June 19, 2007 6:47 AM | Report abuse

I love it it. First Evo in Bolivia now Shaka in T&T. It's time for the little guys to step up and call these corrupt scumbags out.

Posted by: Dirty Harry | June 19, 2007 7:18 AM | Report abuse

For those interested in learning more about Warner, CONCACAF and FIFA irregularities - I recommend John Sugden's Great Balls of Fire.

Posted by: Kev | June 19, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Not to make this political but it's laughable to compare Evo and Shaka in their intentions

Posted by: Gus | June 19, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing that the U.S. has stood idly by while Kickback Jack continues to blemish CONCACAF. The media coverage of the scandal involving a certain Scottish FIFA exec failed to give proper credit to that Scot's comments regarding K.J.'s undeniable corruption. Then again, maybe the USSF's stance does make sense -- as long as K.J. is in power, the U.S. and Mexico will have the easiest paths to the World Cup of any nation on any continent. Bravo Shaka, bravo. On and off the field, Mr. Hislop is 100% acidic class.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Don't see what's so laughable about it. They're both going after corrupt heads of soccer. Blatter is definately a puppet for the Brazilian and Argentine federations. Morales is standing up for his countries right to play soccer without interference from autocrats.

Posted by: Dirty Harry | June 19, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

As long as the vote of Martinique is equivalent to that of the US, Mexico, Canada or Costa Rica no individual federation will challenge unless it is assured of winning... that is why slimy Jack ran unopposed this time... you would need a political coalition of 18+ nations, with a unanimously agreed upon candidate... and all of this would have to be organized in secrecy since those millions that Jack has squirreled away would start flowing to officials from French Guyana to St. Kitts and Nevis to assure their vote... really lousy situation...

Still, it is hard to imagine what the USSF has to lose by a principled stand...

Posted by: Rand S | June 19, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"Still, it is hard to imagine what the USSF has to lose by a principled stand..."

Indeed. I once wrote a letter about that to Chuck Blazer--an American currently on the FIFA executive committee--but never heard a peep back. I even made it all polite and tried hard not to sound like a crank.

Steve, have you talked to him about this stuff on the record? What's he like?

Posted by: Joe S. | June 19, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

My impression is that Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner have a pretty close relationship. Blazer is heavily invested in the status quo.

Posted by: Ricky B | June 19, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"It's amazing that the U.S. has stood idly by while Kickback Jack continues to blemish CONCACAF."

"... no individual federation will challenge unless it is assured of winning...
...Still, it is hard to imagine what the USSF has to lose by a principled stand"

Remember, USSF encompasses everything form youth leagues to the National Teams. I'm not sure they have the staff, or leadership to take on a fight like this. Furthermore, as another poster noted, Chuck Blazer is quite close to Kickback Jack.

Well, someone once said follow the money. USSF may not even have to make a principled stand - MLS and MFL may make a mercenary stand instead.

The thing is, all this corruption is petty, and stifles the development of the region, football-wise. The owners of the two leagues with real money - MLS and MFL - are the ones who could see the most benefit if Jack was out, and they may be working on it: hello, Superliga.

Superliga is outside the "official" CONCACAF hands, and let's see if and how it grows over the next few years.

Posted by: Rob | June 19, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

From what I understand Hislop's letter to Warner (apparently unaffectionately reffered to as "Count Jackula" by some Trinidadian fans) was prompted after Warner was said to have referred to the players in dispute as "consumed by greed". One of the players, Marvin Andrews, a part time pastor in Scotland has reportedly turned down lucrative offers from English teams to play 3rd division Scottish ball just to be close to his church. Hardly a greedy mercenary in my books.

Posted by: Kip | June 19, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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