Soccer czar Jack Warner is an embarrassment. And I feel no joy writing this. Rather, the emotion is one of disillusionment, sadness that this nation's entry into the ranks of the soccer elite at the World Cup in Germany in June would see our players bearing a stained flag.
Warner's attempt last weekend to "set the record straight", as he put it in his letter to the media, reads like a confession reminiscent of the American evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, telling his television audience "I have sinned" when caught in breach of one of the Ten Commandments.
Indeed, Warner made no effort to disengage himself from the difficulties which surround him. Instead he emphasised in his letter that he brought the matter to the attention of FIFA on January 18, 2006 and again eight days later.
Without apparently appreciating that his defence had been split open, he wrote that on February 15 FIFA's Ethics and Fair Play Committee concluded "that because of the involvement of his Simpaul's Travel Service in the sale and distribution of the FIFA World Cup tickets assigned to the T&TFF 'there has been a conflict of interest'."
Warner wrote he asked the committee to refer the matter to the Executive Committee scheduled to meet on March 16/17. This, of course, begs the question whether FIFA would have kept the matter under wraps had he not tried to dribble past the defence.
He also ignored the fact the matter was first raised in the columns of the Express by football writer, Lasana Liburd, in a series of articles beginning December 25, 2005, well before he had contacted FIFA.
Warner's scored a number of own goals in his response to Liburd. In a disgraceful speech, he branded Liburd a liar and, through his satellites, put difficulties in the way of the reporter and the newspaper receiving accreditation to cover the World Cup matches, a hurdle happily overcome.
Now a London newspaper, of some prestige, has got into the act. The Daily Telegraph seems to believe that Warner is in serious trouble with his FIFA associates.
A report in the last Sunday Express quotes the Telegraph as saying he "could face suspension when the executive committee of football's world governing body meets next month".
Then the report quotes an anonymous FIFA member as saying: "It was made clear to Jack after he became involved in running the accommodation at the FIFA Under-17 championships in Trinidad in 2001 that he cannot continue with this sort of behaviour."
It added: "Everyone was extremely embarrassed by the whole thing then, and even more so now. It is not a case of being corrupt but it is a definite conflict of interest."
Warner has given no indication he understands the dimensions of the quagmire in which he and, by extension, Trinidad and Tobago football have found themselves. He is certain he has done nothing wrong. It is fiction that the tickets scandal might represent "Strike Two" against him and he's out.
Last Sunday, for instance, Warner donned his robes of Deputy Political Leader of the United National Congress to join in welcoming back into the fold the former attorney general and human rights lawyer, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.
In his address to the 25,000 the party claimed attended the event, Maharaj expressed his sorrow in Swaggartian fashion that he had broken with party leader and close associate Basdeo Panday when they were colleagues in government.
Warner, too, said sorry, over his own break, now healed with Panday, then tried to score a goal against the Manning government.
The conflict of interest charges were all part of a political plot, he was reported as saying, implying that the ruling PNM had played a role in it.
Now I don't know if Prime Minister Manning and Sports Minister Boynes have a hotline to FIFA or any means of influencing the organisation in matters concerning its relationship with Trinidad and Tobago affiliates.
I doubt it, however, especially when I recall the television scenes of Manning, Boynes and Warner acting like blood brothers at the Piarco airport that joyous evening when the victorious players returned home.
Now Warner is saying Manning's party is involved in a "plot" against him and that the "plot" will not stop the Opposition from regaining power.
Another quote from the London Telegraph is relevant. "The trouble with Jack is that he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong and has been astonished by the fuss. He just thinks he is a smart businessman." Now it seems he thinks he is a smart politician also.
Hopefully, this bacchanal will have no effect on Dwight Yorke and his men whatever the outcome of the FIFA meeting in March.
Hopefully, the team will be able in June to rise above the suspicion that they represent a country that lives by its wits, that its citizens of distinction are not above engaging in a measure of hanky-panky to score goals.