Jack Warner fires back, claiming CONCACAF report is 'flawed' - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Jack Warner fires back, claiming CONCACAF report is ‘flawed’

“I have nothing to fear because my hands are clean” said embattled former Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football President Austin Jack Warner who remains defiant in the face of a scathing CONCACAF report that tainted him and another former CONCACAF boss Chuck Blazer as frauds.

It was Warner’s time to respond, and he did – Thurday night in a seven-page report that he delivered in just over two hours to his hand-picked cheering audience.

Following his double resignation as National Security Chief of the Trinidad and Tobago Government headed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and as Chairman of the United National Congress (UNC), the political party to which he belongs, the illustrious Warner built national anticipation toward his first major speech post his resignations where he promised to tell all.

When Warner mounted the platform on Thursday night,  many expected political bombshells of every kind – FIFA, CONCACAF and even against his People’s Partnership Government. He was greeted with drumming, dancing and cheers from his constituents, the chosen ones, whom he favored as his audience to explain his departure.

He had two bombshells to drop: how the CONCACAF report was flawed and biased against him and what FIFA had to do with it?! While it was anticipated by some, Warner’s second announcement left some of his constituents shocked. He announced his resignation as the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West. It was the third time he was resigning from a major post in the politics of the land, in just a matter of days. The announcement was met with lukewarm sighs and despondent tones from his disciples.

FIFA rents its own building?

One of the headline issues documented in the report is the ownership of the headquarters of CONCACAF in Trinidad and Tobago which the CONCACAF report presented by Barbado’s former Chief Justice, Sir David Simmons said Warner received monies under false pretenses from world football governing body FIFA – meant for CONCACAF, but was put to other use.

In response, Warner asked why did FIFA and CONCACAF paid for facilities at the centre of excellence (COE) if they had owned it.

He also presented invoices showing that FIFA apparently paid a rent for the use of the centre of excellence facility where football body CONCACAF is housed in Macoya Trinidad and Tobago.

Warner wants to know how is it FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA claim to own the centre of excellence and never asked to see the deed.

“When FIFA gives a country a GOAL Project it asks for all kinds of legal titles and documents. Why was none ever, ever asked for in this case? Next question: Would you pay rent to live in your own house?”

Warner presented several invoices including invoice #2051 for more than $165,000 made out to FIFA for events the football body held at the centre of excellence. A receipt showing a down payment of $100,000 and balance owing was also presented by Warner as further evidence that FIFA paid for the use of the facilities.

“Again here is another invoice to FIFA Development for another FIFA event dated May 20, 2010. Six single rooms, 19 double rooms and two new rooms – all for eleven nights between August 31 and September 11. Total – $165,440.

And here is the receipt for the payment of $100,000 – balance $65,440; made to the FIFA Development Office on August 25, 2010, which balance they paid in full. Not one cent discount!!!! Not a half penny off!!!”

The centre of excellence deal

Warner presented via an LPD screen letters of exchange between him and Joao Havelange, former FIFA President, as proof that he obtained ownership of the centre of excellence.

“I went to Dr. Joe Havelange for a 6 million dollar loan to build a centre of excellence”, to which  Havelange instructed then FIFA General Secretary Sepp Blatter to give him the loan, Warner said.

Former Minister of National Security and former UNC Chairman Jack Warner and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan sits back to back at the swearing in ceremony of  Government Senators following a cabinet reshuffle in 2012. Can the by-election see Warner in a fierce fight for the Chaguanas West seat over the next ninety days? (Courtesy Photo)

Former Minister of National Security and former UNC Chairman Jack Warner and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan sits back to back at the swearing in ceremony of Government Senators following a cabinet reshuffle in 2012. Can the by-election see Warner in a fierce fight for the Chaguanas West seat over the next ninety days? (Courtesy Photo)

In a letter dated May 4th 1998 Havelange wrote Warner a letter telling him that he had found an external solution to convert the loan into a donation, which he did in the name of a contribution to the development of football. Warner further revealed that ten days later he wrote back to Havelange thanking him for the assistance he gave in constructing the centre of excellence. From that concurrence, Warner said the centre of excellence was given to him as a gift by Havelange.

As a mark of his appreciation for Havelange’s assistance, Warner said he renamed the centre of excellence, the Dr. Joao Havalange Centre of Excellence.

Since the publication of the CONCACAF report against Warner and Blazer, Warner told the media to speak with Havalenge about the centre to learn the truth about who really owns the multimillion dollar structure.

Warner’s mettle, Blatter’s fear

“I was Blatter’s idol then and he was mine” Warner said.  He quipped, “we were in love”, demonstrating the trusted friendship he and Blatter shared.

The former FIFA Vice President said the tsunami of corruption allegations facing Warner at the moment is because he shifted his support to Bin Hammam for the FIFA Presidency in 2011.

As he gave a chronological outline of his tenure as a football power broker, Warner quipped that shortly after his election of president of CONCACAF on April 6 1990 – he became powerful as he swiftly increased the membership of the Caribbean football union (CFU), making him a king maker of sorts.

Warner’s pace and strategic wit saw him use his power and position in FIFA to include smaller Caribbean nations into the world football governing body. It made FIFA more powerful, but even more so; it further empowered Warner and landed him influence over a crucial voting bloc that impacted the outcome of FIFA’s elections.

“I built CFU into a strong frightening unit” Warner said, with 28 out of 40 members in CONCACAF. He held a position of power as a result.

Relishing in his achievement, Warner said when he entered the doors of CONCACAF it was barely furnished. When he left it in 2011, he left it with US$37 million and a measured goodwill. He disclosed that they had no money to pay the rent for the then CONCACAF space and it was Chuck Blazer’s wife who chipped in.

“When I resigned from CONCACAF there was some $37 million in the bank, three offices, and unmeasured goodwill. I recall when I first became CONCACAF President for months we could not pay the rent and it was Chuck’s wife who had to pay it for us. I also recall that we could not pay for an audit of the financial records we inherited and it was Kenny Rampersad & Co. who did our audit free of charge for years.

Kenny, wherever you are, I want to sincerely apologize for whatever pain or embarrassment you and your firm are now experiencing for having associated with CONCACAF.”

The biggest tap on his shoulders was when Warner used his influence to help make Blatter President. Blatter defeated the favorite Lennart Johansson by 31 votes to become President back in 1998. Warner handed Blatter 30 of those votes in the CFU.

“An interesting development at that Congress was that Haiti was absent and with Blatter’s permission, I got Captain Horace Burrell’s (of Jamaica) girlfriend to vote as the Haitian delegate by saying, “Oui!” when Haiti’s name was called.”

“In 1998 therefore, I had delivered and since then I emerged the second highest sporting personality in the FIFA”Warner said.

Ghost of Warner’s past

Warner said it was the memory of him handing Blatter the 30 votes he had control over in the CFU that made Blatter fearful of the game change he was facing when he was challenged by Hammam for the top job at FIFA.

But the ghost of Warner’s past came back to haunt Blatter and Warner himself in 2011, when Warner lobbied the votes once again, this time for Hammam, just as he did for Blatter in 1998. Warner’s support for the then Asian soccer boss may have toppled chances of retaining the top job.

These turn of events cost Warner and Hammam their top jobs in FIFA. But the FIFA and CONCACAF trails followed Warner back home to Trinidad and Tobago where the Opposition leader Keith Rowley and others made several calls for Warner to step down from Government because of corruption allegations against him.

“These attacks are based on a strategy co-acted by conspiratorial cowards both at home and abroad” exclaimed Warner to thousands of his constituents and supporters. “Centre of excellence is just a smoke screen” he bellowed.

As he wrapped up, Warner finally made known his intention to resign his seat in the parliament, but promises a comeback as he vows to re-contest the position and return to the parliament.

“I wish to let you know that tomorrow, Friday, I would be advising the Speaker of the House of Representatives that effective midnight on Friday night I am resigning as Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West.”

By law, the speaker of the house must call a by-election to fill the position in ninety days.




About the author

Marcia Braveboy

Marcia Braveboy is a journalist from Grenada based in Trinidad and Tobago. She has over 20 years experience in media; mainly in copy writing, news and broadcast journalism. Braveboy was a senior reporter at Power 102 FM radio, CNC3 television and producer of the investigative Frontline program on CCN’s i95.5 FM talk-radio station. You can follow Marcia on Twitter: @mbraveboy Contact the author.

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