Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pellerud winds up in T and T

Former Canadian women's soccer coach Even Pellerud has landed on his feet [The Canadian Press via the Edmonton Sun] after leaving the Canadian program last year [Jim Morris, The Canadian Press via]. He's taken a job as the director of women's soccer for Trinidad and Tobago [Mark Pichet, The Trinidad and Tobago Express].

This is an interesting move, to say the least. Leaving Canada certainly seemed like Pellerud's idea rather than something forced on him, which raised the suggestion that he might have something better lined up. I'm not sure that the Trinidad and Tobago job is that, though. Yes, he'll be overseeing all of their women's programs, but Trinidad and Tobago is well behind Canada in women's soccer (their senior side is 41st in the FIFA world rankings, while the Canucks are 11th). Moreover, there isn't a large talent base to work with; the CIA World Factbook estimates the country's population as 1,047,366, or about half the size of Metro Vancouver.

However, Trinidad and Tobago has always punched above its weight on the world soccer stage. Their budget for everything except the men's 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign is around $3.2 million Canadian [The Canadian Press], $800,000 more than Canada spent on their men's team last year. Thus, funding for the women's program is probably at a similar level in Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, and Pellerud might even have more money to work with. That's despite Canada having 33 times the people [CIA World Factbook] and considerably more wealth.

One good reason for that disparity is that CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner hails from the country [Wikipedia]. Despite his exalted position at FIFA, Warner remains heavily involved in island politics and is a "special adviser" to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF). His strong endorsement of Pellerud makes it clear that he was at least partially behind the hiring. From the Express:

"TTFF special adviser and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner said his organisation 'hired the number one and best female coach in the world' and that his four-year tenure was part of the local federation's strategic plan for football nationwide.
'It's part of the whole thrust of development of football of the TTFF,' stated the CFU and CONCACAF president."

There's no question that Warner will have thrown a substantial sum of cash at Pellerud for this job, but I'd still be leery of working with him and the TTFF. After all, this is the man who reportedly made 500,000 pounds selling tickets for Trinidad matches at the 2006 World Cup [Andrew Jennings, The Daily Mail] while deliberately understating revenues from that tournament to give less money to the players [Michael Herborn, Play the Game and Lasana Liburd, The Trinidad and Tobago Express]. Despite a judgement in favour of the players by an international arbitration, Warner and the TTFF still apparently haven't paid them any money [Andrew Jennings, Transparency In Sport]. Combine that with the numerous other scandals Warner and the TTFF have been connected to over the years (many of which are detailed in Jennings' excellent book Foul!), and this isn't a job I'd want to take. Hopefully it will work out for Pellerud, but if it doesn't, he might want to be more careful who he deals with in the near future.

(Cross-posted to The 24th Minute).

No comments: