FORMER Strike Squad captain Clayton Morris and former Soca Warriors manager Bruce Aanensen are both saddened, but not surprised, that former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has lost his challenge to his extradition to the United States to face fraud-related charges. Morris and Aanensen reflected on what Warner meant to Trinidad and Tobago football, saying he contributed to its growth.
On Thursday, five Privy Council judges – Lords Hodge, Briggs, Hamblem, Burrows, and Sir Declan Morgan – delivered their decision on Warner’s challenge. The Privy Council held the request for Warner’s extradition was not unfair.
The decision came just days before the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday. A lot of controversies surrounded the selection of Qatar as World Cup hosts, including bribery, corruption and how construction workers were treated in building stadiums for the event.
The decision on Thursday also came a week after Netflix released the documentary FIFA Uncovered, which highlighted the allegations of corruption in the world football body.
“It is always sad when you hear these things about another human being and more so somebody who has been part of your development…as a youth you look towards senior people,” Morris said. “I remember as a youth struggling on the Under-19 (TT) team and you hear this name Jack Warner. It was an honour and a privilege to meet this individual in person.”
Morris said it’s unfortunate Warner may have made some wrong decisions.
“Mr Warner has contributed to the person I am today…getting the news this morning (Thursday), I also felt a sort of sadness, a sort of sympathy. At the same time, I remember my Granny saying however you make up your bed is how you expect to sleep…you have to live your life with the end in mind. He has to know what he was involved in. So then he has to know what is expected of him now as he is faced with this situation.”
According to the US charge sheet against him, Warner is accused of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery; and allegedly, from the early 1990s, he “began to leverage his influence and exploit his official positions for personal gain.”
He also allegedly accepted a million-dollar bribe from South African officials in return for voting to award them the 2010 World Cup and allegedly bribed officials with envelopes of cash. Warner, who was also head of Concacaf, was banned from all football activities for life by FIFA.
Aanensen, the Soca Warriors team manager at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, said, “This is very unfortunate. My view is that Jack has done a tremendous amount of good for TT football.”
Aanensen was not shocked by the news.
“It is not surprising, given all the things we have heard about FIFA over the years and how they operate. It is sad that a man like Jack, who has put his whole life into football, at 79 years old, he is being pulled before the courts and he could well go to prison. It is not a nice thought at all. Even if people...may feel he is guilty, you still need to feel a sense of sympathy for the fella. He gave his life to football, at the end of the day.”
Aanensen said Warner helped develop football in the Caribbean.
“It is only when Jack got in there that he got a lot of football played in the Caribbean and the Concacaf area, which clearly would have improved the standard of football in the Concacaf area. In that regard, he lifted the standard of football by using his influence to get big tournaments in the Caribbean.”
Aanensen does not think Warner’s situation will affect TT football moving forward.
“I don’t think it is going to have any significant impact on TT football…he has been out of it for quite some time, and this is really a FIFA-related matter…it is not a Trinidad issue as such. It is more a Concacaf and FIFA issue.”
Morris said he will continue to wish Warner the best.
“All my prayers and everything goes out to him and his family and (I hope) everything will work out the best for him.”