Works Minister and ex-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner yesterday ignored a High Court request to provide written accounts of all income, donations, gifts, grants or benefits whatsoever and all expenditure arising from the Germany 2006 World Cup.
High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad declared, on 12 January 2012, that Warner, who is also the former Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special advisor, must file and serve the relevant documents by 10 February 2012 and the order was relayed to the Chaguanas West MP by the TTFF attorney.
However, Wired868.com was told that Warner ignored the order while the MP even dismissed the legitimacy of two legal rulings—made by Sports Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) arbitrator, Ian Mill QC, and Justice Rampersad in 2008 and 2010 respectively—during a live interview yesterday with radio station I95.5.
Michael Townley, English solicitor for the 13 World Cup players, questioned the Minister’s sanity in the wake of his non-declaration.
“I can’t think of any strategy that can sit behind this apart from panic or belligerence,” Townley told Wired868. “Usually, you try to get yourself out of a situation by appealing to the other side’s good grace. But this is certainly not the case here…
“I have had situations where people didn’t honour an order but usually their lawyers would communicate with us to say they were struggling and appeal for more time or it was a small order.
“I have never had a massive order like this and there is no communication from the (opposing) lawyer saying we are having serious difficulty and are struggling with time. No one said anything to us at all about the non-compliance.”
Warner, who resigned from FIFA last June in the wake of bribery allegations, claimed that he acted independently of the TTFF and was caught up by the euphoria of the 2006 Germany World Cup when he offered the players a 30 percent commercial split of all revenues.
“In euphoria, of course, I said guys I will ensure that you get 30 percent of the net profits,” Warner told I95.5 yesterday. “… I had no instruction or advice or corroboration from the Federation. I went to the players out of euphoria.”
However, ample evidence shows that Warner’s offer of a 30 percent split was made on 9 November 2005; a week before the “Soca Warriors” qualified for the showpiece FIFA tournament with a 1-0 triumph in Manama, Bahrain and eight months before the June World Cup.
That bonus agreement was further discussed between the players and several TTFF officials including former manager Bruce Aanensen, UK liaison Mike Berry and Warner and was the subject of an 8 January 2006 meeting in London.
The TTFF also confirmed a 30 percent “player allocation” in written submissions to the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs in 2006 under “franchise fees” and “other income”.
So, Warner’s utterances regarding the timing of the World Cup bonus agreement and the TTFF’s ignorance of the pact is unsupported by fact.
On 12 June 2006, Warner then increased the deal to a 50 percent share after meeting Hislop and another World Cup goalkeeper, Kelvin Jack, at the team’s hotel in Germany.
The SDRP arbitrator ruled that Warner’s increased offer was legally binding since it was not made based on euphoria but “in order to obtain practical benefits” for the TTFF; as it served to placate the Warriors who were upset by the football body’s failure to provide promised accounting documents.
Six years later, the World Cup players still have not seen the spreadsheets while ex-TTFF President Oliver Camps stated, in an affidavit filed on 24 August 2011, that:
“I have no information or records for (LOC Germany) as this was (…) under the control of special advisor, Mr Jack Warner. The executive and I have made repeated requests for Mr Warner to provide accounts…”
The 13 Warriors who remain locked in legal wrangling with the TTFF are due to return to the Port of Spain High Court on 14 February 2012.
On Wednesday, the players, accompanied by a court-appointed marshall, seized all removable assets from the TTFF’s headquarters on 43 Dundonald Street, Port of Spain after the football body’s failure to pay a $4.6 million (US$724,000) interim payment that was due since October 2011.
However, Townley said they will not make any other move until their next court date.
“We won’t do anything before Tuesday,” said Townley. “But we will make several requests to take this thing forward then, based on the events or non-events of the past week.”
Justice Rampersad refused to join Warner to the case at his last ruling on 12 January 2012 due to the MP’s promise to supply the court with the relevant information. It is likely that the players will now ask the Judge to reconsider.
Warner was in defiant mood at yesterday’s radio interview.
“Right now, from where I stand there is no compromise,” said Warner. “I have drawn a line in the sand. What they have done to this country I will not forgive them and I hope this country does not forgive them.”