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Football’s loss may be T&T’s gain
The decision by Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner to resign as a vice president of FIFA, as the president of CONCACAF and as the president of the Caribbean Football Union would not have come as a surprise to anyone who has been following his announcements since his provisional suspension by the world football body. Warner had signaled the possibility that he would resign from his international football commitments by statements he made at a belated Indian Arrival Day function in his constituency when he said that if he had to choose between serving FIFA and serving the people of T&T, he would choose the latter. Discerning minds would have read that statement, at the time, as preparing those
who value his work ethic and the promise of his performance as the minister of works for his eventual resignation. But other statements made by Mr Warner appear to contradict the one made at the
Indian Arrival Day celebration.
For example, when the news broke of his alleged involvement in a cash-for-votes scandal involving members of the Caribbean Football Union and the suspended FIFA vice president, Mohammed bin Hammam, Mr Warner was quoted as promising a tsunami‚ of revelations into the inner workings of the world football body. And in the week that followed‚ the same week in which the voting for the FIFA
president took place‚ Mr Warner appeared to be fulfilling his tsunami promise when he released an e-mail in which the FIFA general secretary appeared to suggest that Qatar had bought the 2022 World Cup. It is safe to suggest that Mr Warner’s decision to release confidential e-mails between himself and top-ranking FIFA members would not have gone down well with that embattled group of football administrators. It is also possible that Mr Warner was told, in no uncertain terms, that that particular knife had the potential to cut both ways and that releasing confidential e-mails involving a body that prides itself on confidentiality would not have gone down well at FIFA.
The bosses of football may have hanged Mr Warner’s jack. It also needs to be said that Warner should have resigned from his football commitments more than a year ago when he was first appointed as a member of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet. Warner ought to have known that his attempt to serve masters in Zurich and those in Port-of-Spain at the same time was ill-advised and imprudent‚ despite the legal advice that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan procured from senior attorneys at the time, which indicated that there was no conflict of interest. The fact that he chose not to heed the advice from many quarters‚ including it must be said, from the editorials of the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian‚ to resign when he was appointed to the Cabinet makes his resignation more than a year later seem like the action of a man whose back was against the wall. Despite all, it is appropriate to recognize, as FIFA has done, the sterling service of Mr
Warner to the development of football in the region. While an honest assessment of that contribution is yet to be done, there is little doubt that he raised the profile of the region’s football during his stewarship over CONCACAF (the Confederation of Central America, North America and the Caribbean). Mr Warner’s resignation from his international football commitments also means that 100 per cent of his energy and his undoubted organisational prowess can now be dedicated to the development of T&T. This turn of events may turn out to be in everyone in T&T interest. And for the world of football, all that remains to be said is that there is unlikely to be another Jack Warner‚ coming from a very small country and wielding the kind of power that he did‚ ever again in the game.
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