Jack Warner’s power broking influence in football looks to have returned and it also looks like he is once again going to get paid for it.
Reports are that Warner called up to 15 voting delegates in the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) elections encouraging them to support William Wallace for the presidency.
Wallace beat incumbent David John-Williams 26 votes to 20 and in one of his first acts as president said that he was talking to Warner to settle an outstanding claim against the TTFA of more than TT$15 million ($2.3 million).
Warner is still held by many as a national icon in Trinidad and Tobago, and within some sections of the football community who benefitted financially from his regional leadership – including many of the key supporters of the United TTFA group that saw Wallace and three new vice presidents swept into power.
It is rumoured that following the election Warner even attended the United TTFA victory party, though this has not been confirmed. Warner was interviewed on local television following the election showing his support for Wallace in his new role.
Warner was banned for life from football in September 2015 for being – according to the FIFA Ethics judgement – “a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes.”
Under the terms of his ban he cannot take part “in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level for life.” Involving himself in lobbying in the TTFA elections would be a clear breach of his ban and may even raise questions around the integrity of that election, perhaps even forcing demands for a rerun from FIFA and Concacaf.
As seemingly with most things regarding Warner and football, it would appear that his involvement is all about the money.
In August Warner issued court proceedings against the TTFA claiming $2.3 million of loans he said he provided but hasn’t been repaid. Warner says the money was loaned to the Trinidad and Tobago FA (TTFA) over a 15-year period, including to help fund the successful 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The TTFA wrote the loans off as a debt in 2015 – following John-Williams election to the presidency – saying that “the debt was statute-barred and it had no obligation to pay.”
The debt was reportedly acknowledged in TTFA financial statements between 2007 and 2012 and then TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee wrote to Warner in 2012 (in a letter seen by Insideworldfootball) saying that the money would be repaid once the TTFA’s financial position improved.
The TTFA is currently understood to still labouring under up to $40 million of debt built up during Kee’s regime (2012 to 2015) and that of preceding TTFA president Ollie Camps (1992 to 2012). Both were close associates and supporters of Warner. Tim Kee did not survive long enough to refund Warner.
Warner is believed to have enriched himself by more than $40 million over his time in football and on top of his million dollar salaries and expenses from the TTFA, Concacaf, and FIFA. It was money that should have been used to develop football in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean, a region that has desperately struggled to finance its development and competitions.
He is still wanted in the US for his key role in the FIFA-gate scandals but has so far managed to avoid extradition on a legal technicality that is now at the last stage of appeal in front of a very slow moving UK Privy Council – the final arbiter in matters of legal dispute for the former British colony. It is perhaps ironic that a man who fought racist colonial attitude and privilege will now have his future determined by the old colonial power. Before that he will attempt to get one last pay day from his TTFA buddies.