Austin “Jack” Warner is considered both a villain and a hero. Mr Warner’s long career as a football executive came to a halt in June 2011 with his resignation from FIFA. This was triggered by an investigation into allegations of corruption by FIFA’s Ethics Committee and his subsequent suspension from all football-related activities. His resignation meant that the Committee’s investigation was terminated and Mr Warner’s innocence was maintained. Throughout his tenure at FIFA, Mr Warner has managed to maintain an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ stance despite a plethora of corruption allegations, some which date back to the 1980s. Decades of alleged wrongdoing have culminated in indictments against him by the US Department of Justice.
Jack Warner: The US charge sheet
• Accused of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, bribery
• From the early 1990s, he allegedly “began to leverage his influence and exploit his official positions for personal gain”
• Allegedly accepted a $10m bribe from South African officials in return for voting to award them the 2010 World Cup
• Allegedly bribed officials with envelopes each containing $40,000 in cash; when one demurred, he allegedly said: “There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you’re pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business”
In a bizarre turn of events since his indictment, Jack Warner has vowed to expose all information in his possession about corruption in FIFA and FIFA’s role in the UNC/ People’s Partnership campaign for Trinidad and Tobago’s general election of 2010. Yes, the same FIFA of which he has been a member since 1983 and the same UNC party that he has served in his capacity of Member of Parliament since 2007 before creating his own party in 2013. Surely, these are not new allegations?
In a televised address seen below, he made some interesting utterances.
“I will no longer keep secrets for those who now actively seek to destroy the country.”
“I have witnessed the treachery of this government.”
“I have, as promised, compiled a series of comprehensive and detailed series of documents, including cheques and corroborated statements.”
“I apologise to the people of Trinidad and Tobago for not disclosing my knowledge of these events before.”
I must admit that Jack Warner’s latest antics has me a bit confused. Is it that for all these years, Jack Warner has allegedly been aware of/ complicit in corruption in both FIFA and the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, yet said nothing while playing a major role in both entities? However, amidst the indictment and the night spent in jail a moral lightbulb has illuminated within Mr Warner’s ethos. He is now repentant, remorseful, and willing to clear the air on all he knows about others’ involvement in wrongdoing.
Mr Warner needs to remember that
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”- Edmund Burke.
I fully understand Mr Warner’s intention to portray himself as the ‘good guy’ in this matter. After all, it is he, not Sepp Blatter or the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who is to stand trial. Therefore, it serves his case well to try to appear as innocent and as compliant as possible. However, I see a bitter, vindictive man backed into a corner and is now seeking revenge against all who have abandoned him.
I may very well be in the minority with this view. Despite the allegations, Jack Warner has maintained a hero status to many in Trinidad and Tobago. To some, he is a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give the poor.
One commentator on Facebook stated
“I feel sad to know that Mr. Warner was used for his money ….’they’ have also washed their mouths on him…. amidst all of this ‘bad press’ he has managed to hold his head high. If indeed he is guilty of misconduct etc…. he used the money to help build his country, a true Robin Hood I say….For those who don’t agree with my view, you are entitled to it just as I am entitled to mine.”
This sentiment is also echoed internationally. Columnist Nick Charles of the Washington Post almost attempted to justify Mr Warner’s alleged corrupt actions as a necessary evil. According to Charles,
“Is Warner a scamp? No doubt. A crook? We’ll see. But before consigning him to the ash heap of fútbol history, it’s worth recalling what was wrong with the game before he and Blatter came along: It was run like an exclusive, all-male, all-white country club. And Warner—antics and all—was key to breaking down the barriers of the sport for countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
It’s why he still maintains—even as prosecutors press ahead with charges—a reservoir of goodwill among those who sense that he—and the much-maligned Blatter—have done more good than bad for the sport.”
Read in Full: From the Washington Post
Is Mr Warner’s case a primary example of the ends justifying the means? Is it that it is okay to lie, steal, and commit fraud, once you help your countrymen in the process? Is it okay to illegally enrich your pockets but expand the reach of football in developing countries in the process? I am not here to convict Mr Warner. However, I am concerned about the standards to which we hold our politicians and officials. I am disturbed by the international shame that this scandal has brought to Trinidad and Tobago. Every time I see coverage on Mr Warner’s shenanigans on the BBC, CNN, ESPN, and every influential news source online, a little piece of my heart breaks for my country.
Photo Credit: http://www.bbc.com/