Jack Warner, the FIFA vice president who questioned the direction of England’s 2018 World Cup, has a colourful past.
How sublimely ironic that the ineffable Jack Warner of Trinidad fame or infamy, is up in arms against the Daily Express for calling him “corrupt and racist.”
Surely the charges one could bring against Warner, in his role as heaven help us a FIFA vice-president and top banana in Trinidad football, are so manifold that to dub him of all absurd things a racist, is as superfluous as it is inaccurate. The man, for heaven’s sake, is a West Indian, and whatever his absurd outbursts against English football, the Football Association and England’s laborious bid to bring the World Cup here in 2018, it is surely malevolence rather than any kind of inverted colour prejudice which is at the bottom of his insensate attacks.
That Warner is head honcho in CONCACAF, and therefore controls important votes, is in itself a judgment on that abysmal body FIFA. Please note that the other main man in CONCACAF is the portly American Chuck Blazer. Who, not long ago, in a New York court, was, together with another leading FIFA representative, savagely rebuked by a judge who found against FIFA in their devious attempt to slide out of their long-term agreement with MasterCard and transfer it to Visa. She accused both of them of lying. Blazer’s colleague went back to Zurich, was briefly suspended, but in no time at all, installed as FIFA’s top executive!
As for Warner, merely flip through the pages of Andrew Jennings devastating expose Foul! and you will find page after page of Warner’s machinations in Trinidad, and Sepp Blatter’s alarming tolerance. Well, Warner has votes hasn’t he?
Jennings alarming book came out too early to emphasise that the players of Trinidad’s gallant 2006 World Cup finals team were shamefully kept waiting for their promised rewards. Perhaps they have them by now, but only, if at all, after long, long waiting.
As for Warner’s various endeavours, space permits me to list only a few of them. Not least the huge sums he and his son made in dealing with tickets for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. At the time it should be emphasised, Warner, although the main man in Trinidad football, was not a member of the Trinidad Football Federation.
But a bold and enterprising local journalist who Warner and his group tried, with early success but ultimate failure to ban from covering the Germany World Cup – his name was Lasana Liburd – began looking into the mechanics of it all. What he and other local journalists found was shocking.
A company called Simpaul Travel Service was offering World Cup first round tickets: but at what prices! The sum of £2700 plus would purchase tickets for the first three round games, plus 12 nights in a shared hotel room, not to mention T-shirt, national flag and wrist band. Liburd, to the rage of Warner, discovered that he, his wife and two sons were behind this company, which Liburd discovered, would be making £1700 on every package.
Inter alia it was confirmed from FIFA that it was illegal to sell any kind of package with match tickets. Bt needless to say, Warner – known to have iron control over his country’s Federation, despite his seeming detachment – eventually slipped off the hook. But only after major newspapers all over the world had zeroed in on his plan.
Previously, there had been the affair of the Dr Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, which would be opened in 1998 by the mighty FIFA president himself. It was pointed out that that if the area really needed such a centre it should be central rather than built away south of the main region. But CONCACAF’s 30 odd votes controlled by Warner, can hardly be denied. So a 6000-seat stadium would be built at Port of Spain, with three practice pitches, swimming pool, offices, conference hall and the Sportel Inn for visiting officials.
Warner demanded $16million from FIFA whose whole budget for three-year development was just $10million. But Warner got his money. The list goes on an on. You can study it with amazement in Foul! Not to mention the various encomia which Warner has received from Blatter.
Last year the self important Warner, reckoned by now to be a multi millionaire, flew into a paddy when England played a friendly in Port of Spain and Lord Triesman, the FA chief didn’t show up. He poured abuse on the FA and English football, ludicrously asserting that it was globally unpopular. Pips from a pipsqueak.
Just recently, he has had the impertinence to castigate England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup, asserting that it hadn’t enough celebrities behind it. Abysmally, the World Cup bid committee have reportedly been “wining and dining” the so-called “power broker.” Which I suppose he probably is; which tells you rather more than you need to know about the state of FIFA and international football.