England - T&T Match: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

When last we left the intrepid bureaucrats of the England FA, they were slinking back to England accompanied by the dulcet tones of one big, fat, juicy international raspberry.

It was doubtless their fondest wish that the whole humiliating little affair would quickly be forgotten.

There was of course still the matter of Warner DEMANDING THAT LORD TRIESMAN "APOLOGIZE" FOR NOT MAKING THE TRIP by agreeing to attend his dinner dance later this summer, which penance TRIESMAN QUICKLY AGREED TO but really what's just a little more groveling after the orgy of obeisance they indulged Warner with all weekend?

(An interesting side note to all of this is that there wasn't room for Lord Richard on the 50 seat FA charter anyway; Capello reportedly filled it up with his enormous entourage of trainers, nutritionists, assistant towel holders, a backup goalkeeper coach and more. There were Sultans of the Ottoman Empire who traveled with smaller retinues.)

Indeed, the British press was even beginning to sprout a few tentative commentaries LIKE THIS ONE IN THE GUARDIAN urging people not to view the FA as a bunch of craven grovelers or Jack Warner as a greedy snake but rather to view the whole affair as a version of some Medieval court ritual or Byzantine rite of passage.

Sure, they say, Warner may have been involved in a few irregularities over the years (apparently defining "pocketing millions of dollars in World Cup tickets" and "blatantly looting T&T soccer revenues" as "irregularities") but in the end it's really just the price of doing business.

However that may be, the entire affair passed from comedy and solidly into the realm of farce yesterday when FIFA sources announced that THE MATCH WAS GOING TO BE WIPED FROM THE RECORD BOOKS since England had broken the substitution rules.

It seems that back in 2003, Sven Goren Erikson removed his entire starting 11 at halftime of a friendly against Australia. Sepp Blatter was so offended by this that he personally rewrote FIFA rules to state that no more than 6 substitutions could be made in an official international match.

Which created an interesting situation considering that Fabio Capello used seven subs against T&T, thus voiding the results of Saturday's game.

Which meant that, among other things, this match Jack Warner wanted so badly was, in the end, nothing but a scrimmage. Gareth Barry's first England goal still hasn't happened. David Beckham hasn't captained England since 2006 and the four players Capello gave their very first caps to are still, well, capless.

An inquiry made to FIFA resulted in THIS OFFICIAL STATEMENT:

"We can confirm that Fifa did not give special dispensation to make up to seven substitutions at the Trinidad & Tobago versus England match.

We have spoken internally at Fifa about the matter and nobody allowed this to happen."

It was all shaping up to be a colossal embarrassment for all concerned. Maybe Jack would ask them to do it again; how could they refuse.

Heck, if Jack asked them to fly down and detail his car, how could they refuse?

Fortunately for all that egg which would have been splattered all over the FA's collective face, FIFA ISSUED A CLARIFYING STATEMENT EARLY TODAY

"Clarifying" as in "clear as mud"

FIFA maintains that they never gave permission for the rule to be ignored. They sort of imply that it was a referee error. Then they say that FIFA did grant permission. Then they say that, really, it was Jack Warner who decided the rule could be ignored.

They'll have to forgive everyone for not realizing that being a FIFA Executive board member gave Warner the right to change FIFA rules. Or something.

Apparently, whatever did or didn't happen, Jack Warner wanted this result to stand. And, as we all know, whatever Jack wants, Jack gets.

And while the FA can breathe a huge sigh of relief, Lord Triesman is still going to have to don his best bib and tucker and show up at Jack's dinner party.