Fink: Warner’s speech is stand-up comedy

FOX Sports columnist Jesse Fink believes Jack Warner's speech-making will not get him out of trouble after CONCACAF issued a damning report on his past.

Former FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner

By Jesse Fink

Who needs a new comedy from Judd Apatow or Seth MacFarlane when the laughs keep coming from Jack Warner?

The former Minister for National Security in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago and chairman of the United National Congress party fell on his sword (or, more likely, was pushed down on it, hard) after the release of an excoriating Integrity Report by CONCACAF, the football confederation he used to run with the sort of untouchable sangfroid Tony Soprano enjoyed conducting his business affairs from the back room at Bada Bing.

The CONCACAF report examined the historical conduct of Warner and his former US counterpart Chuck Blazer, and was damning of both men.

For Warner, the most serious allegation was that he "committed fraud against CONCACAF and FIFA in connection with the ownership and development of the Centre of Excellence" in Trinidad: a scandal first exposed by the crusading sports journalist Lasana Liburd on his Wired868 website last year and reported by FOX Sports Asia.

"Warner committed fraud in two ways," said the report. "First, Warner secured funds from CONCACAF and FIFA by falsely representing, and intentionally creating a false impression, that the COE was owned by CONCACAF when he knew that the property was in fact owned by his own companies.

"Second, Warner induced FIFA to transfer funds that were intended for development of the COE to himself personally by falsely representing that the bank accounts to which FIFA should send the funds were CONCACAF accounts when he knew that in fact he controlled them personally."

Corruption allegations are nothing new against "Teflon Jack"; he's made a career of collecting them like business cards.

It explains the pejorative nickname and it's why he left his virtually tenured post as FIFA executive member after the Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal in 2011.

But this most recent round of charges levelled against him were fatal because it came not from FIFA, against which Warner has a habit of threatening to unleash "tsunamis" from time to time when things get too hot for him, or journalists, which he seems to breezily dismiss as a nebulous group of racist conspirators, but CONCACAF: his people. He ran the joint with impunity for two decades.

No chance of labelling this report a racist plot, either: the Integrity Committee was chaired by Sir David Anthony Cathcart Simmons of Barbados, a black man, and CONCACAF's president, Jeffrey Webb, is also black.

But Warner had a red-hot go anyway. More on that later.

So what did our man do? He organised a rally of his "constituents" - aka the fawning Jack rent-a-crowd - to answer the charges and employed Facebook to get his message across, a place where his acolytes are in plentiful supply.

He told his cheering audience he'd been "hounded and persecuted".

"For the past two decades, I have been the target of various kinds of attacks. I have been targeted. My family has been targeted. My friends have been targeted. My detractors have said every dirty thing under the sun about Jack Warner."

Yes. Speaking about himself in the third person. And he did it so many times during his speech he even dropped into "fourth person" at one point, as former USA defender Alexi Lalas joked on Twitter. Defences for his conduct, on stage and online, ran thick and fast.

"I have never been a burden to the treasury of Trinidad and Tobago. My hands are clean."

"These attacks are based on a strategy crafted by some conspiratorial cowards!"

"I met and fulfilled every objective as it relates to football both in Trinidad and the Caribbean."

"The hardest fight for me is to strike internal enemies."

"I too am crying but I am crying from the inside where the hurt is most painful."

"One must ask the question how did little Jack Warner manage to stay in his corner under the radar and enjoyed [sic] so much success for so long? Or is it just that what we are seeing today is the vindictiveness of an oligarchy against one who attempted to challenge the power of a Eurocentric and white regime and thus balance the playing field so that leaders of every colour, race and ethnicity could have a fair chance to become a president of FIFA?"

Nice try, no cigar.

Warner went on to attack FIFA president Sepp Blatter and British journalist Andrew Jennings but couldn't land anything substantive on them that put them down for the count. The paid invoices he furnished as supposed proof of FIFA's knowledge of his ownership were issued under the name of the centre with no details of his personal bank account. The valuation report for the centre with the name of his company on it, Renraw, showed no evidence of being transmitted to and received by CONCACAF.

Warner also insisted that "at no point in time" had he "kept the ownership of the Centre of Excellence a secret" and says he told the Trinidad Express about it in July 2012.

Why, then, in May that year did he state that the Caribbean Football Union owned it? As he told Trinidad's Sunday Guardian: "[CONCACAF] have all the records, they can check it and see who owns it and who doesn't own it, what they have paid and what they haven't paid. What I do know is that I don't own it, so what is all the fuss about?"

Twelve months on, he's flip-flopped again.

"The truth is that the Centre of Excellence was a gift to Jack Warner to improve the development of football within the Caribbean Football Union and without a doubt it has achieved its goal."

No apology. No contrition. Not a shred of humility.

There was some small mercy to this self-serving drivel. Warner announced he would resign as an MP but left the door open to return to public life: "Come July 24th, 2013, who knows, with your love, your support and your understanding, I shall be your MP again."

Let's hope this is the last we've seen and heard of this man who in my opinion was a blight on football governance in the Caribbean.

He was no champion of the underdog, as he likes to make out. In my view, he was out for nobody but himself.

The game has gone through enough under his stewardship and were it not for the efforts of journalists such as Liburd and Jennings, he might still be wielding disproportionate power at CONCACAF and FIFA.

Read the scoreboard, Jack. It's game over.

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