[CONCACAF INVESTIGATION]"T&T Sick" is the headline in this week's Business Express, Trinidad & Tobago's business journal. It refers to the state of the T&T economy, but it might as well have referred to how it views the Jack Warner affair. After years of fraud allegations that filled Trinidadian newspapers, Trinidad & Tobago finally got sick and tired of the former Concacaf president, who resigned under pressure Sunday night as the country's minister of national security.
Warner's resignation came two days after a Concacaf investigation revealed widespread fraud on the 70-year-old Warner's part. Warner's resignation, under pressure from the government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, came only 48 hours he dismissed the charges as baseless and said he'd continue to sleep very soundly at nights.
The most serious charges concerned the $25.9 million Havelange Centre for Excellence, built with Concacaf money it obtained on loan from FIFA. Concacaf believed it owned the soccer center, but money used to fund the project went into Warner's personal account and he, not Concacaf, owned the land on which the center was built.
"I left Concacaf and turned my back on football two years ago," Warner said on Friday. "Since then, I have had no interest in any football-related matter. Concacaf's report today is of no concern to me and as far as I am aware it is baseless and malicious. If after 20 years of being the president of Concacaf, all its committee could have found is some baseless claim against me involving the Center of Excellence, then I will continue to sleep very soundly at nights."
American Chuck Blazer, who served as Concacaf general secretary under Jack Warner during his tenure as Concacaf that began in 2011, were both savaged in the Concacaf investigation into their tenure that was released on Friday.
Warner quit two years in the aftermath of the 2011 Caribbean Football Union meeting at which sealed brown envelopes containing $40,000 in cash were offered as a gift to those in attendance to hear Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam talk about his bid to unseat Blatter. Blazer blew the whistle on Warner and bin Hammam.
Other charges against Warner included misappropriating $1 million in FIFA money earmarked for a reconstruction project in Haiti and pocketing $462,000 for an artificial field at the Havelange Centre for Excellence from Australia's 2022 World Cup bid committee.
There was little doubt in T&T soccer circles about Warner's guilt.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) president Raymond Tim Kee described the evidence in the Concacaf report issued by former Barbados judge Sir David Simmons as overwhelming.
“I thought that the head of the Integrity committee, Sir David Simmons, was particularly unambiguous in his statement was when he alluded to things such as fraudulent,” Kee said. "This is not a happy day for Trinidad and Tobago nor is it a happy day for me… I want to make something categorically clear in that (…) I intend to observe all the best practices in the conducting of business of any organizations: accountability, transparency, all-inclusiveness… I thought the evidence produced was overwhelming.”