PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – World Cup veterans from Trinidad and Tobago's national soccer team on Wednesday seized office equipment from the country's governing body due to a longstanding payment dispute.
Accompanied by a group of policemen and a court official, 13 Soca Warriors who represented the Caribbean country during its 2006 World Cup run 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 star 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 achieving World Cup play in 2006 had been ignored by the federation.
Last year, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad ordered the federation to give about $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 the federation said it ''does not have the resources to fulfill this request for such payment.''
It put the blame on former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who led Caribbean soccer for more than two decades until resigning all his soccer 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 Trinidad federation rewarded the players with 50 percent of profits generated during the Soca Warriors' run during the World Cup in Germany. 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 qualify for the World Cup, was eliminated in the first round.
On Wednesday, Sancho said their 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.