But, in the meantime, the world federation risks coming under fire over a separate scandal arising in the Caribbean. As for ISL, Michael Garcia, the world football federation’s investigator/prosecutor, had stated early this year that he would sent a report to last month’s executive committee on his conclusions arising out of the scandal-laden bankruptcy of FIFA’s former marketing partner.
President Sepp Blatter, after that meeting, said that Garcia’s 4,000-page report had been submitted to Eckert who, naturally, needed time to read it and consider the next steps.
Blatter had suggested April 15 as a likely deadline without realising at the time that that date (today) is a public holiday in Switzerland. In any case, a FIFA spokesman has said that Eckert has decided he needs a little longer to reach and prepare his own conclusions.
Simultaneously FIFA told this writer formally it had ‘no comment’ to make on the latest explosive raft of allegations concerning Jack Warner, Trinidad’s Minister of National Security and formerly vice-president of FIFA as well as president of CONCACAF (central and North America) and the Caribbean Football Union.
The allegations raised by the Trinidad Sunday Express are so grave as to paint Warner – who has always denied any wrongdoing – in a ‘class’ beyond anything ever witnessed in and around international football. Investigative reporting of an explosive nature has added to the pressure for action by Jeffrey Webb, president of CONCACAF, as he marks almost a year in office at this week’s congress of the central and North American confederation in Panama City.
Warner has been compared with Ricardo Teixeira, the Brazilian football supremo who ran away to Miami to escape a flood tide of business scandals, including the fallout from the ISL affair. Both men eluded a likely raft of hearings and investigations by the simple expedient of walking away from the game. Yet, if true, the allegations against Warner would paint the profiteering of various senior sports officials off the back off ISL appear as small change.
Warner wielded enormous power and patronage in the regional and world game after evolving from history teacher into millionaire business and government minister via football leadership roles in Trinidad (TTFF), the Caribbean (CFU) and central and North America (CONCACAF).
He quit the game in the summer of 2011 after being accused in connection with bribery allegations surrounding Bin Hammam’s bid to oust Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA. Warner, on his way out of football, threatened one day to bring down the house of FIFA with “a football tsunami.” Now, however, it is Warner in the eye of the storm.
Last month Reuters reported that one of Warner’s sons and business partners, Daryan Warner, was in the United States “assisting” the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Inland Revenue Services in connection with a $500,000 payout made over 20 years. Opposition politicians in Trinidad and Tobago have demanded in vain that Warner should step down from his high-profile role as National Security Minister, at least while inquiries about his personal and business probity are undertaken.
However Prime Minister Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has stood by him. One of many outstanding issues concerns bonus payments outstanding to members of Trinidad’s squad who reached the World Cup finals for the first and only time in their history in 2006. Thus has been the subject of extensive legal action though it has been reported that a settlement is in sight.
On a wider scale, the sweep of the latest inquiries concern the destination of many, many millions of dollars from international corporations via sponsorship, from the Trinidad and Tobago government and from FIFA.