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Jack out the box


The news earlier this week that one of the region’s most powerful figures, Trinidadian Austin “Jack” Warner, has resigned from Football’s world governing body, FIFA, comes as no surprise, as the plot has been carefully crafted.{{more}}

In a case which typifies how great men can fall from grace, sometimes through their own actions, Warner found himself between a rock and a hard place, or a do or die situation.

It was also a choice between the world body and his political career in his native Trinidad and Tobago, and Warner chose the latter.

Warner is a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament, the Minister of Works and Transport and the Chairman of the United National Congress (UNC), the biggest partner in the five-member coalition People’s Partnership government. He is also that country’s Deputy Prime Minister.

But the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back came following allegations that he and former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam offered US$40,000 to national associations of the Caribbean Football Union at a meeting in Trinidad on May 10 and 11, in return for their votes in the FIFA presidential election, which was took place in Zurich, Switzerland, June 1.

Similar to when Bin Hammam who opted out of the race, leaving Sepp Blatter as the lone Presidential candidate, Warner’s decision was formally made public by FIFA last Monday. It was another example of the sacrificial posturing of the inner circles of FIFA, which is in itself a secret order, a fraternity.

So what about Warner’s promise of a tsunami? Was it part of the plot in the FIFA Best Seller? Did he ever really know anything about other FIFA members or was it a grand charge to save face?

In essence, Warner’s threat to expose others, painted everyone in the operations of FIFA as corrupt.

This was FIFA at work. A deal done behind the scenes leaving us all wondering what really went on.

Most significantly, in tendering his resignation, Warner has denied Football, FIFA and the world the opportunity of a proper airing of the claims against him, as all matters relating to the Ethics Committee investigation were closed with Warner presumed innocent.

Yes, Warner’s departure may do wonders to improve FIFA’s image. However, it still leaves unanswered questions about the way FIFA operates.

For the 68-year-old Warner, who has been the longest-serving member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, dating back to 1983, and has led the Confederation of Central America and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) from 1990, and became a FIFA Vice President in 1997.

Warner has been implicated in numerous corruption allegations that go back as far as the 1980s.

In 1989, as President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, Warner was accused of deliberately ordering the overselling of match tickets for Trinidad and Tobago’s final group match against the USA at the National Stadium in Trinidad and Tobago.

Preceding the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, Warner was entangled in a melee over the sale of Trinidad and Tobago quota of tickets for the Finals, as well as other travel packages involving businesses in which he had direct ownership.

Warner was at the centre of allegations into England’s failed bid to host the 2018 FIFA finals.

Lord Triesman, England’s chief bidder, alleged that Warner sought personal favours in Trinidad and Tobago to perk their bid process, stating that Warner had asked for cash to build an education centre and to buy World Cup television rights for Haiti.

Despite the black eyes, Warner, though, has done a lot for the confederation, but at whose expense and for whose gains?

Being able to build up a personal empire and near King status over the years, many Caribbean Football administrators have nested on his hand outs, while failing to adequately help themselves through professionalization of their internal operations.

Few dared to challenge Warner, for fear of being ostracised.

Now, the chickens have come home to roost, good should come out of evil, as the regional associations’ mettle will be tested, without their “god father”.

No god father in asking for the removal of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.