PANAMA CITY: Damning revelations about finances linked to Jack Warner has left world federation FIFA with no option but to confront its relationship with its one-time vice-president writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
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 of ISL appear as small change.
FIFA’s revamped ethics system condemned Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam to a life ban even after he had withdrawn formally from football last December; the same option must be open in the case of Warner if even a fraction of the latest allegations are substantiated.
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 was caught out by the whistleblowing of his long-time CONCACAF ally Chuck Blazer. Later Blazer, a member himself of the FIFA executive committee and general secretary of CONCACAF, became the focus of concern over his financial relationship with both the organisation and with Warner.
Warner, on his way out of football, threatened one day to bring down the house of FIFA (and Blatter) with “a football tsunami.”
Now, however, it is Warner in the eye of the storm after steadily increasing pressure topped off by the allegations brought forward by investigative reporter Camini Marajh.
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 Service 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.
World Cup bonuses
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.
The world federation issued a formal ‘no comment’ when asked about the allegations.
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