CONCACAF Follies

The British Virgin Islands lost their World Cup Qualifying home-and-home with the Bahamas on what is BEING DESCRIBED AS A "TECHNICALITY". Some others might call it just another Jack Warner-style scandal.

The first match between the two, last Wednesday, was played to a 1-1 draw. The "return leg" was played yesterday to a 2-2 draw.

Immediately after the match it was announced that the Bahamas had won "on aggregate", because they had scored two goals "on the road" which, in this case, meant in Nassau. In the Bahamas.

Following along?

You see, FIFA ruled that the British Virgin Islands has no suitable field for this caliber of match. So CONCACAF arranged for both matches to be played in the Bahamas. The first match was randomly designated the "away" match for the Islands, and the match on Sunday - in exactly the same place- was designated their "home" match.

But the real question is: Why doesn't the BVI have a "suitable venue"? FIFA annually awards millions and millions of dollars in "development" money for just this purpose, and CONCACAF certainly gets it's share.

The problem is that in 1999 Jack Warner decided that what CONCACAF needed was a permanent "training center" based (naturally) in T & T. The place he had in mind, complete with stadium, 6 practice fields and a hotel complete with restaurant to house visitors, was estimated to cost US$16 million.Warner decided to name it after former FIFA BOSS JOAO HAVELANGE who used to call Warner "My brother"

But the total amount FIFA had budgeted, for ALL of CONCACAF development, for the next five years was US$10 million.

Nevertheless, FIFA gave the go ahead for Warner to spend every dime of the money on his little palace and co-signed a loan with a Swiss bank for the other $6 million.

Then, in 2002, after CONCACAF had made exactly NO payments on the loan, FIFA wrote him a letter telling him not to worry about it; they were paying off the $6 million note.

So Warner spent $16 million for a place which is used roughly 30 days a year for "training" officials or coaches or whatever. (FIFA generally foots every dime of the expenses for these as well)

It's a lovely place, with extensive gardens

a lovely "swimming complex"

...a beautiful hotel complex...

... a massive "indoor facility (this is just the lobby).....

...with plenty of room for events honoring Jack Warner....

.

...and including state of the art technology that would make the Pentagon swoon.

Meanwhile, several countries who had been scheduled to get FIFA quality fields, like the British Virgin Islands, still don't have one and aren't likely to get one in the near future.

So they play and home and home in someone else's building and get bounced from the tournament because they draw two games.

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