Jack's Not a Happy Man These Days

CONCACAF Dictator-for-Life Jack Warner is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more.

Fresh off his "meeting" with Trinidad & Tobago National Team coach Francisco Maturana, where Warner expressed his "extreme displeasure" over T&T's dismal performance in their defeat at the hands of a Bermuda team which refused to play their assigned "speedbump" role, Our Man Jack met with reporters on Tuesday and dropped a bomb.

You'll recall that the island nation's new Sports Minister, Gary Hunt, has been working directly with the national team players to create and fund a meaningful soccer development program where money is spent on fields and coaching and equipment rather than palaces and travel and providing jobs for cronies and yes men.

Hunt, and much of the rest of the nation, was scandalized over the high prices Warner demanded for seats at the England friendly a couple weeks back. The average citizen simply can't afford to attend Jack's Greedathons.

So Hunt has announced that henceforth Hasely Crawford Stadium, sort of the T&T version of Wembley, will be made available to the national team free of charge.

Unfortunately for Warner, the stipulation was that all seats for said games would also be made available free of charge to T&T citizens.

Needless to say, Warner hit the roof.

He says that "with the support of the T&TFF" (like they have a choice) he has "made some decisions", first and foremost among them being that the national team will no longer play any games in T&T.

He says he has "applied to FIFA" (hold the laughter, please) for permission to move all scheduled matches elsewhere, mentioning specifically the US.

(The only other FIFA-approved pitch in the country is Marvin Lee Stadium, a 6,000 seat venue which is part of the gleaming $22 million "Joao Havelange Center of Excellence" which Warner built with the money that was supposed to build places like Belize and Barabados decent places to play)

Warner also declared that football events for which the T&TFF had already been committed to hosting-the CONCACAF Women's Qualifying Championship in July, the CFU Youth Cup (Boys and Girls) in August, the Brazilian Youth Team against a Tobago XI in September/October and a host of other fixtures, including the Digicel Cup- shall " be re-scheduled to other countries and or other venues," with negotiations currently underway.

The reason for this, he says, is that Hunt is apparently too much of an imbecile to understand that these games cost money and the teams involved have to be compensated.

Hunt replied, in a media release, that it is his (factually accurate) understanding that FIFA provides the compensation for visiting teams directly and no payment is required from th T&TFF.

Warner is also outraged that Hunt has the audacity to demand that the T&TFF provide their audited financial records for the last few years, which would show what he has done with the millions of dollars T&T has already given the Federation.

All of which explains Jack's beating up on the T&T coach: if the team can't get past Bermuda and into the next round, then there aren't any more T&T Qualifier games. Poor Maturana isn't just trying to win for winning's sake, he's got to win to protect Jack Warner's financial interests.

Sports Minister Gary Hunt says he WANTS TO TALK IT OVER AND WORK THINGS OUT but Jack Warner is not big on compromise, particularly where money is concerned.

Canada, meanwhile, is all jazzed up over their epic three goal victory over international powerhouse ST. VINCENT (population 120,000 - sort of like playing Rapid City South Dakota). They'll need to enjoy it while they can, since if they manage to prevail in this battle of the Titans they'll find themselves in the group rounds against Mexico, Honduras and Jamaica.

In other CONCACAF Qualifying, Jamaica finished off THEIR BEAT DOWN OF THE BAHAMAS with a 13-0 aggregate.

The diverging fortunes of the regions top teams is the topic of MUCH CONVERSATION THESE DAYS

With US Coach Bob Bradley sending most of his MLS players home after the workmanlike takedown of hapless Barbados and Mexico trying to put a happy face on an embarrassingly close game against a team made up entirely of amateur players, the contrast couldn't be more stark.

Some Mexico fans are complaining that the problem is that SGE doesn't understand "Mexican Soccer Culture".

A cynic might respond that the last five guys had that in spades and it didn't get them very far. Maybe what they need most is someone who understands something besides Mexican Soccer Culture.

Last night's 0-0 draw with Argentina in Belo Horizonte did nothing to quiet A BRAZILIAN FANBASE THAT'S GETTING INCREASINGLY ANGRY over the lack of results.

Of course the odds are that they'll get it together and make it to the WC but at the moment Brazil's fans want some answers or some changes, and Coach Dunga's head seems to be first on their list.