FIFA Grand Poobah for Life Sepp Blatter is in the Caribbean this week. He'll be stopping over in several countries as he makes his way to the sure-to-be exciting CONCACAF Congress in Panama later this week where he's going to come face to face with the results of the corruption he not only ignored but encouraged in return for gaining and holding the personal power he craves:
Of course, everyone knows how to get Blatter to put your little corner of the world onto his itinerary: get your government to give him an award, the more ludicrously pompous and grandiose the better. FIFA used to maintain a page on their official website that proudly listed "
80 90 100 such awards, virtually all of them stuff like "Grand Exalted Prince of Universal Peace" from someplace like Outer Mongolia or Fiji.
(For a good example of how ugly this can get, I highly recommend Andrew Jennings story on Blatter's award from alleged human being Charles Taylor)
So the Dominican Republic had him stop by to graciously and humbly receive some gewgaw or other naming him one of the great humans of our time and he was only too pleased to accept.
Still, if Blatter wasn't pretty much required to appear at Confederation Congresses he'd surely love to skip this one, which he will address right after they have spent a couple of days pretending to be appalled at the ugly disaster his hand-picked ally and closest friend created while he stood by and did nothing.
This is because the much-delayed auditor's report on the financial affairs of CONCACAF over the last 20 years will finally be presented to the assembled federation Presidents, and it's going to be sensational. It was promised to them for the meeting last December but there was apparently so much muck and goo to wade through that they needed more time.
Of course pretty much everybody there - from Jeff Webb on down to the delegate from the tiniest Caribbean flyspeck island - was in bed with Jack Warner every bit as much as Sepp Blatter ever was. They got and kept their lofty perches and licenses to steal "development money" by voting for Jack, doing what they were told and keeping their mouths shut.
For a peek into how the system worked, you can't do better than this article from The Economist forwarded to us courtesy of BigSoccer legend SankaCofie, which shows that over the last ten years Anguilla (pop.15,000), to pick an example, sucked up US$1.15 million in "Development grants" in addition to their yearly $250,000 gift and every dime of it has vanished.
The same has happened with US$800,000 in Goal! money given to Guyana and Montserrat and, well, pretty much everybody else, and it's well-accepted fact that the reason they were able to steal - there's just no other word for it - all of that loot was because it was OK with Jack Warner. You stole, he stole, everybody stole and everybody was happy with it.
So it's going to be pretty rich to watch as they all line up to express their outrage at Warner's shenanigans before jetting back to the beach houses they bought with the cash he shoveled to them, although since they all secretly still love Jack and wish he was back in charge, expect to see them try and blame anything and everything on Chuck Blazer. He's an American, he blew the whistle on their buddy and did I mention that he's an American?
And at the head of the pyramid of thieves stood Sepp Blatter, who will doubtless join in the chorus of outrage when the assembled thieves discover that there was stealing going on in CONCACAF.
On top of all that is a new series published by the Trinidad Sunday Express authored by a brave young woman named Camini Marajh, who has somehow gotten her hands on the details down in T&T.
In clear, concise paragraphs stuffed with dates and amounts and details which leave no doubt as to their veracity, she shows how no less than $100 million - and possibly much more - flowed into the coffers of the Warner family while Jack's accountant, who served the same function for the T&TFF and CFU, shamelessly doctored the books.
For the first time the citizens of T&T - and the wider Caribbean, where this is getting big play - are seeing not just "Warner is a crook" but "Warner stole X, Y and Z".
In response, Warner angrily told the media earlier today that he is "incorruptible" and added:
“If I did not believe that I wouldn’t say it."
This is partly in response to the news that T&T Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, acting on instructions from the Prime Minister, has written to Eric Holder asking him for information on the FBI's probe of Jack Warner. Of course he can't honestly believe that the US Dept. of Justice is going to tell Jack Warner's allies one damned thing, but it's a sign of how much heat they're getting that he feels the need to go through the motions.
Now, into this whirling cauldron of corruption drops our own Sepp Blatter, whose has spent the last three years claiming that he is dedicated to cleaning up the mess at FIFA but whose phony crusade is beginning to look a little threadbare.
His much-touted "Reform Process" lies in tatters, now apparently reduced to adding two more or less random women to the FIFA ExCo. Pretty much everything else that Marc Pieth and his committee recommended has been shot down, watered down or simply ignored. No Presidential and ExCo salary and expense account transparency. No background checks for Executives. No open elections. No, no, no.
Plus, now that it's becoming increasingly apparent that he intends to run for a fifth term - which has sparked an open war with UEFA President Michel Platini - he really needs to look like he stands for something besides the status quo.
Not that he needs to actually DO something about it all. Nobody in FIFA wants that. He just has to LOOK like he's fighting corruption.
With all due respect, I have a suggestion for him which will electrify the world's sporting media, jazz up the fans and polish his credentials as an agent for change who is serious about corruption fighting:
When the CONCACAF meeting is over, he should hop into his Executive Jet and fly to Trinidad.
He may or may not get the so-called "Head of State" treatment that he demands - it's hard to see them snubbing him but who knows - but it's unlikely that Prime Minister Bissessar will drape "The Grand Order of Wonderful and Saintly Humans" award around his neck but no matter.
For once, that's not what he'd be there for. Rather, he needs to grab a cab and say to the driver:
"The Center of Excellence, please."
There on the curb outside the front door, in front of all the world media cameras that FIFA's vast PR operation can wrangle, Sepp can look gravely Presidential as he says:
"This facility belongs to CONCACAF.
It was built with FIFA development money that I myself approved. It is no one's personal property.
It belongs to the soccer players of the Caribbean. It exists for their benefit and it does not now, nor has it ever, belonged to Jack Warner.
If he claims otherwise he is a liar.
I have come here to reclaim the CONCACAF Center of Excellence for its rightful owners.
To that end, I am hereby demanding that Mr. Warner deliver the keys to this facility to CONCACAF President Jeff Webb and make no further false claims regarding its ownership.
If he does not comply within 24 hours I will instruct FIFA's attorneys to move immediately against Mr. Warner and his assets anywhere and everywhere with the utmost vigor and urgency.
Furthermore, I'm here to announce that starting today FIFA is going to fully fund T&T football. Because of pending lawsuits we cannot currently send them cash, but any operational bills they present to my office will be paid immediately.
FIFA is worth nothing if it does not stand for the rights of football players everywhere, and nowhere more than in small countries where they can be easily bullied by petty tyrants and governments that close their eyes to corruption.
I will not allow Trinidadian and Caribbean football to be held hostage to Jack Warner for one more day.
If he feels I am wrong about who owns this place I invite him to call me and I will meet him anywhere on the island within the hour.
If not, I will assume that he has nothing to say."
The world will be stunned.
Jack Warner will be humiliated.
Sepp Blatter will get another four years.
Well, OK, so there's the downside.