Minister of Sport and former Soca Warrior, Brent Sancho, believes ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner should be extradited to the United States “to answer serious questions” posed to him by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations).
Sancho was speaking with Newsday following an early morning sweep in Switzerland by police on delegates who were convening for Friday’s FIFA presidential election where incumbent Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth consecutive term.
Warner, who resigned from FIFA in June 2011 amid a proliferation of allegations of corruption, is named among 14 persons indicted including current Concacaf boss Jeffrey Webb for racketeering, fraud and money laundering.
Sancho, who had a personal battle with Warner and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for 2006 World Cup bonuses and accountability for close to $200 million from the 2006 World Cup campaign, had little sympathy for the former Special Adviser to the TTFA.
“I believe once there is concrete evidence he should answer what questions are raised to him. And based on the international reports that have been coming out for the last few years he has to answer a number of serious questions,” he stated.
Sancho said he was not surprised by yesterday’s developments as he reminded the public that Warner is not untouchable despite the power he once wielded throughout the world.
“I am not surprised at all. This has been something in the making for quite a while. There has been a number of allegations around FIFA and the only real surprise is that it has taken so long. There was the (Mohammed) bin Hammam situation (alleged US$40k bribes to (Caribbean officials) right here in Trinidad. He’s not untouchable but it is unprecedented. FIFA has been a law unto themselves for quite a while,” he said.
Sancho said this current FIFA scandal is a reminder to all sporting bodies to adhere to the principles of integrity while in office as no longer will the world sit back and allow corrupt sporting activities to continue unpunished.
“It’s a historic day in terms of how people will conduct business. We at home and the TTFA need to be cognizant of this. I’m not saying they have done anything illegal but we must be aware that accountability is a must. People must remember how powerful Concacaf is in terms of voting because of the number of countries we have. It has a lot to say in terms of everything going on at FIFA and what is playing out right now,” he explained.
Asked whether he feels vindicated considering their much publicised battle with Warner and the TTFA, Sancho said: “One thing is for sure is we unearthed a lot of stuff to do with what’s transpiring now. We are happy that the stuff we unearthed has now come home to roost. It’s a sad day for football,” he declared.
Asked whether FIFA has any credibility left, Sancho did not give a definite answer but urged football’s governing body to use this scandal as the impetus to purge itself from corrupt activities and officials. “That is the million dollar question now. Where do they go from here? From allegations to now arrests, I hope things can be cleansed but we don’t know how this will now affect tournaments coming up,” he said.
Brent Sancho not surprised.
By Rhondor Dowlat (Guardian).
Minister of Sport and former Soca Warrior, Brent Sancho described the indictment against former FIFA vice president and president of CONCACAF as an historic development in sports and in football.
Sancho said he was not surprised in relation to Warner being charged for corruption.
“FIFA for a very long time acted on its own. No world government have ever interfaced or gotten involved in FIFA’s business. It is not a surprise that this is happening but I think it did take long to develop like this. I am not surprised,” Sancho said.
When asked about his longstanding relationship with Warner and how he felt on a personal level, Sancho replied: “It was always difficult to judge Warner’s impact in the local game. It is hard because he never really had a lot of accountability and transparency. For one championing his cause, Warner played an integral part in a positive way in football.
“It is a sad day despite all achievements Warner had on and off the pitch.”
When asked what was the reaction by his Cabinet colleagues on the news, Sancho said that everyone was watching to see what will happen next.
Meanwhile, the T&T Football Association (TTFA) said it is observing, with concern, the events that took place yesterday morning in Zurich, Switzerland.
In a release late yesterday, the TTFA assured that it will give the ongoing investigation the respect it deserves and as a result, will refrain from making further statements on the ongoing investigation at this time.
“We acknowledge this investigation and hope it will lead to improved governance in the world’s most popular sport of which our organisation is actively involved,” the TTFA said.
The TTFA reiterates that it is currently involved in a process of reforming and re-organising its governance, organisational structures, and “practices in striving to meet ever-increasing expectations of transparency, accountability and performance from a wide range of stakeholders.
“This process was started immediately by president Raymond Tim Kee after he was elected as president of TTFA in 2012.”
Tim Kee is currently in Zurich, Switzerland, attending the 65th FIFA Congress.
Rowley not surprised at charges
By MIRANDA LA ROSE (Newsday)
SUSPENDED Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley said he was “not surprised” that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations was seeking the extradition of MP for Chaguanas West Jack Warner, on fraud charges allegedly committed while he served football’s governing body, FIFA, as a vice president.
Given what was already in the public domain over the last few years and allegations that were being made, in and out of FIFA, Rowley told Newsday, “I am not entirely surprised and I always suspected that something like this could happen. I would expect that the law will take its course, and the case is still unfolding, so I would not say much.
Very little of the indictment was surprising, he said, because FIFA business and the allegations of fraudulent activities, have been around for quite sometime. “The scale and speed at which it is happening, is however quite impressive.”
What seems to have happened now, he said, was that the allegations have crystalized into specifics which were attracting the law enforcement around the world, including Trinidad and Tobago.
“It is a major international development spanning continents and law enforcement agencies across the Europe, North America, the Caribbean and South America. I suspect that there is more, and I will wait to see how it unfolds,” he said.