Has T&T Finally Called in Father Merrin?

If we were fortunate enough to live in a civilized society instead of the joyless, buttoned down, take-ourselves-oh-so-very-seriously land most of us call home, it would not be even remotely necessary to point out that in places where people believe life is for actually, you know, living, we're on the eve of the festival of joy known as Carnival.

(Residents of New Orleans are excused, even though their civic fathers labor mightily to perpetuate the impression that it's Mardi Gras down there 365 days a year, so bring your Gold Card. Kind of like Disneyland with rum and tits.)

In Trinidad& Tobago, the official celebration - "The Greatest Show on Earth" they call it (although "World's Biggest, Most Over-the-Top, Out of Control Street Party" might be more appropriate; they make the affair down in Rio look like a Presbyterian Ice Cream Social) is officially Monday and Tuesday.

The non-official party, on the other hand, has a somewhat more flexible start time, and thus tomorrow is known as "Carnival Friday".

(FYI the "Calypso Monarch" competition, the one which Karene Asche won last year with her blistering satire of "Uncle Jack", will be held on Sunday, when she'll compete against 11 other performers who survived an elimination process to get there.)

Coincidentally - I'm pretty sure - tomorrow is the day when T&T High Court Justice Devindra Rampersad has ordered the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation to present a plan of aggressive legal action against former "Special Adviser" Jack Warner.

If they do not do so - if they instead try to stonewall the court like they did all day on Tuesday when they pushed the envelope of absurdity by repeatedly telling the judge that they intended to, according to T&TFF President Richard Groden, "do nothing" - then Justice Rampersad has broadly hinted that Groden is going to jail.

It is at least partly for this reason that the T&TFF issued a media release last night at around 1:30 am local time wherein they, for the very first time, admitted that they have someone in an upstairs bedroom spitting green pea soup and swiveling his head.

It's only taken 26 years.

And if they do indeed follow through, if they show up tomorrow with a solid plan for suing that dirty old bastard whose ass they've all been madly kissing for the better part of three decades now, then the country will have even more to celebrate than usual.

Because the biggest crime that Jack Warner committed isn't found anywhere on the long, long list of financial thefts he committed more or less in broad daylight while daring anyone to try and stop him.

Not even stealing almost 3/4 of a million dollars which was supposed to go to food and shelter for women and children who were shivering in the rain with empty stomachs - and there's got to be a special corner of hell reserved for that kind of bastard; perhaps the "Heinrich Himmler Suite" or something - is the worst of his deeds.

You can read the jist of the official statement for yourself here, but the key meme is condensed into one simple phrase when the federation admits that for many, many years, they had quite simply "surrendered their authority" to Warner:

They admit that they are "aware of funds made available by both FIFA and the Korean football federation for the victims of Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010", but add that:

"these monies did not go into the account used by the TTFF administration for its day-to-day operations, but instead to the TTFF's LOC (Local Organising Committee) account as was requested by Mr Jack Warner".

The sad end to the Warner era is contained in the simple notation:

"We never questioned his authority or actions and are now in a position of despair."

And there it is, in a nutshell.

For years and years, Warner told them that he was The Great Benefactor and, what was even more important, that because of him - personally - T&T and the Caribbean as a whole were "respected" by the footballing world, that they were now "important" within FIFA, that they had an important voice in the halls of power.

In short, they weren't just some another poor third world charity case that could be ignored by all those rich and powerful countries. They had money and prestige and power and they owed it all to Jack.

It was all a lie, Every bit of it. He never gave a crap about any of them. It was only about how much money he could pocket just because no one ever dared to say no.

It's not like much of it was a secret. They knew about the time he sold 40,000 tickets to a USA match in a 20,000 seat stadium and they knew about the millions of dollars worth of World Cup tickets he kited, and a lot more.

But they figured there were two Jack Warners; one was a loveable rogue who ripped off rich Europeans and Asians for World Cup tickets and such, and another was the powerful and feared champion who carried their nation's banner in the halls of power.

They apparently didn't pay attention to The Exorcist:

Father Damien Karras: I think it might be helpful if I gave you some background on the different personalities Regan has manifested. So far, I'd say there seem to be three. She's convinced... Father Merrin: There is only one... He is a liar. The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien, and powerful. So don't listen to him. Remember that - do not listen.

But they did listen. And they believed.

Today, Trinidad & Tobago football has nothing. No money, no office, no qualifying campaign. Your local youth association, wherever you live, has more assets than the T&TFF, who appeared in Germany in the World Cup less than six years ago but today don't own so much as a box of uniforms or a bag of balls or a case of white marking paint. That's all gone to auction.

Their former longtime President, Oliver Camps, a useless bag of slime, is about to have his house seized. Their current President, Richard Groden, is less than 24 hours from a jail cell. FIFA has cut off all funding.

The Sports Ministry says they'll help fund the U17's qualifying effort - that's the kind of "government interference" that Sepp likes - but otherwise they cut off funding a year ago after years and years of asking for an accounting of the money they were sending him and having him tell them to go to hell.

In short, they've got nothing; less than nothing, and the only way they can begin to turn it around is to toss Warner overboard.

And as recently as the day before yesterday, with not a dime to their name, all of T&T football crashing down around their heads and an angry judge in their face threatening jail time and demanding to know what they intended to do about Warner, the only answer they could come up with was:

"Nothing".

The saddest part, though, is found in any island newspaper letters section or T&T football message board thread, and it's contained in a single word that you read over and over:

"Shame".

The proud, joyful people of Trinidad & Tobago, far from enjoying the promised "respect" of the world, know that they are now widely considered a synonym for corruption and blindness and thievery.

You could say, I suppose, that they earned it; they have known for years that Warner was a thief and a liar and they didn't much care because Jack assured them that they were the ultimate beneficiaries: of money for football, of pride and honors and a powerful voice among the high and mighty.

Instead, they're beginning to understand that they were taken too, that Warner was stealing from them too, and not just money.

He stole their pride.

Here's hoping - indeed, praying - that tomorrow, in Judge Rampersand's courtroom, that T&T finally says "no" to Jack Warner and begins the long road back.

If they do, if they finally close the book on the beautiful dream that turned into the ugliest of nightmares and stand up to the man responsible, then they surely will have earned the best, most raucous and delirious Carnival of all.