Oliver Camps, former president of the then-Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), is in immediate danger of losing his home as well as other assets to satisfy an approximate TT$3.8million debt owed to ex-Soca Warriors coach Wilhelmus Rijsbergen.
Camps, 84-years-old, headed the local organisation for 19 years before stepping down in 2011 following a US$40,000 cash-forvotes scandal involving Mohammed bin Hammam who was battling Sepp Blatter for president of FIFA.
In a letter to the editor, Camps’ daughter Sandra, described her father as “as trusting fool” as the TT FF was previously registered as a sole proprietorship and now her father - whose health is failing - is stuck with a huge bill.
It is not the first legal scenario Camps has been embroiled in as the former ally of ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner was being sued by the thirteen 2006 Soca Warriors over unpaid bonuses promised to them by ex- TT FF special Advisor Jack Warner.
The case, which spanned over seven years, saw Camps being included as a defendant but refusing a request by High Court Judge Devendra Rampersad to file a lawsuit against Warner who it was alleged was in charge of the TT FF accounts.
The Warriors finally got their money in July 2014 when ex- Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar instructed her Finance Minister to fulfil the payment with taxpayers footing the bill. In an interview with UK Channel 4 last year, Camps said Warner was like a brother to him but “he made me do the wrong thing.” The manager of the 1973 TT team which lost the infamous match to Haiti told the foreign media network he signed documents whenever Warner asked as “I had confidence in him.” In her letter to the editor, his daughter said it pained her to publicly share “a matter of personal anguish to my family but is hoping some solution can be found as a result of her action.
“After the Soca Warriors returned from the World Cup and coach Leo Beenhaaker left for Poland, the TT team needed to find a coach who would continue to build upon the foundation that Beenhaaker had set. The Government, still hyped from the success of the team in Germany, agreed to pay for the services of a coach (Rijsbergen) for the national team,” she said.
She explained that it was “based on the promises” made by then Prime Minister Patrick Manning they hired the Dutchman.
“As the euphoria of the 2006 World Cup faded, so too did the desire to help but by this time the TT FF had run up a hefty bill with coach Rijsbergen, which needed to be paid. The TT FF did not have that money and Oliver Camps, as its president, was taken to court by Rijsbergen. The judgment went rightly in favour of Rijsbergen. The total sum owed is US$592,475.22.” She explained: “To satisfy this judgment, my father will be forced to sell the home in which he lives. This impending action is having a serious effect on his health and his state of mind. We also stand to lose the home he and my mother built and other properties that were handed down from my maternal grandparents as no single property that he owns will pay this debt.” She said the TT FA and Government have not held true to their November 16, 2015 letter to settle the debt and new TT FA president David John Williams has said the local body is broke.
“That my father should be forced to bear the burden of a debt that may leave him homeless, when clearly this debt belongs to the TT FA, is unbelievable.” She pleaded, “I ask people to remember his 42 years of service to the game of football and, by extension, to his country and reconsider this matter urgently. Do the right thing for Oliver and allow him to keep his home.” (See full letter on page 14A).