France 2 journalist Nicolas Geay met former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner for the first time this morning, outside of the Port of Spain Magistrates Court, and received a provocative and memorable response from the former minister’s bodyguards.
Although Warner never mentioned “ISIS” himself, he never intervened and smiled at one point as his two bodyguards taunted the French journalist and his cameraman, Olivier Gardette, in front of the court, as they walked down St Vincent Street and then as they drove off.
“I think it was not very elegant,” Geay told Wired868. “We were asking straight questions to Warner and they were angry. They maybe didn’t expect such direct questions and that was their way to tell us to shut up.
“It was not elegant. But we did not expect them to be elegant.”
Warner was one of FIFA’s most controversial and, arguably, corrupt figures and, at present, he is resisting an extradition request from the United States.
France 2 is filming a documentary on FIFA, which led them to Trinidad and Tobago to question Warner.
Warner knew they were coming since Geay emailed the ex-Chaguanas West MP, who held the portfolios of Minister of Works and Transport and Minister of National Security under the former UNC-led coalition government.
And, almost from Geay’s opening question, it appeared that “Team Warner” had done some rudimentary homework into current affairs in France, whose capital, Paris, suffered a tragic terrorist attack on November 13 that left 130 dead and 300 hurt.
“Ask ISIS!” Warner’s bodyguard shouted, in front of the Magistrate’s Court.
As they walked down St Vincent Street, Warner preferred to dip into his classic hits.
Geay: “Why did FIFA sell you the rights (for the) 2010 and 2014 World Cups for a lower price?”
Warner: “Ask your mother.”
Geay: “Is it true that the South Arica government gave you 10 million dollars to buy your vote?”
Warner: “Ask your mother.”
Geay: “But I am asking you…”
Warner: “I just gave you an answer: Ask your mother.”
Warner’s bodyguards chipped in intermittently.
“You ent care about the ISIS and what going on there?” asked one. “What you doing here?”
And the other guard chimed in: “Go back to France nah.”
Warner did step in to the media’s rescue. But it was only to restrain one guard, after he gesticulated towards local photojournalist Andrea De Silva, who momentarily blocked their path.
“Don’t worry,” said Warner, as he held his bodyguard gently by his forearm, “I am having fun.”
By then, Warner had started ignoring the French journalists, who were asking about suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Warner’s extradition case.
Geay: “You seem quiet…”
Bodyguard: “France not quiet all now? There have something called ISIS, deal with that. Jack Warner is the least of allyuh problems.”
Five years ago, Warner was accused by FIFA and Haitian football authorities of failing to relay financial aid from FIFA and the South Korea Football Association to the poverty-stricken island, after the tragic 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince.
Warner, according to then Haitian football president Dr Yves Jean-Bart, came to Port-au-Prince, saw the destruction first hand, shook hands with a man who spent two days buried under the rubble. And then, Warner allegedly left with US$690,000 of the US$750,000 aid money he received.
In Port of Spain this morning, as Warner and his bodyguards got into their vehicle and drove off, the former FIFA vice-president lowered his window for a final word with the journalists.
Warner: “Have a safe journey back home.”
Bodyguard: “And be careful with ISIS!”
The occupants of the vehicle laughed and drove off.
Geay, who lives 10 minutes outside of Paris, had a good idea what they meant but he had to ask Wired868 to be sure.
“At first, I didn’t understand,” said Geay. “We say ‘Daesh’ in France.”