Former president of CONCACAF, Austin ‘Jack’ Warner had big plans for president of the Barbados Football Association, Ronald Jones.
So big, he wanted the Barbadian to eventually head the world’s largest sporting organization, FIFA.
This information came out of a video-tape released by British newspaper the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, which shows Warner addressing Caribbean Football Union (CFU) delegates ahead of a meeting with then Asian soccer chief and FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed Bin Hammam of Qatar.
“If we stay with Blatter [current president Sepp Blatter], we have to put checks and balances in place.
“We need to groom the president of Barbados [to become FIFA chief]. I am just calling a name, because he is my partner, and could be president of FIFA. Groom him now, or go to Pele [Brazilian legend],” Warner told delegates.
The taped evidence became the hottest sports issue this week, as it was released on the same day 15 CFU officials were being investigated by FIFA regarding their possible involvement in a US$40 000 bribery scandal that has rocked the organization.
Barbadians David Hinds, general secretary of the BFA, and FIFA referee Mark “Bob” Forde, who both attended the meeting in Trinidad, were interviewed by FIFA’s ethics committee on Tuesday.
Efforts yesterday to reach Jones for a comment were unsuccessful.
During Warner’s video presentation, done at a Port-of-Spain hotel on May 11 this year, he also admonished CFU members for constantly talking about CFU business outside the confines of CONCACAF.
“Our business is our business. Oh gosh, we don’t have to rush up to New York and talk about everything. We can rave and rant and curse, but when we leave here our business is our business,” Warner told the delegates.”
Warner also urged the delegates to use any gift from Bin Hammam wisely, and for the development of football in their respective jurisdictions. He also warned the delegates that they did not have to take any money.
“We are under no obligation whatsoever to vote for anybody except the person who we believe will better our interests.
“If you think you don’t want it [the cash] give it to somebody else. Give it to Trinidad and Tobago. Give it to Anguilla, to Barbados, or to the BVI (British Virgin Islands),” the former CONCACAF chief told CFU members.
“But don’t go and talk our business outside.”
Warner, who resigned earlier this year without facing charges from FIFA after the bribery scandal materialised, told the delegates the money should only be used for football purposes.
“Pay salaries or buy equipment, it’s up to you,” the Trinidadian government minister added.
In urging CFU members to support Bin Hammam, Warner also noted on the video tape that CONCACAF were going through a watershed moment, and could determine the final outcome of the FIFA presidential elections.
“We have suffered. If ever we have suffered in FIFA, that time is now.
But never before have we been as important as we are now. That can’t be frittered away,” Warner added.
“When we leave here and go to Zurich [to the FIFA elections], we should go in a position of strength.”
He noted that Bin Hammam had about 90 votes, and Blatter about 85, and that CFU’s support for the Qatari could swing things in his [Bin Hammam’s] favour.
After the scandal became public, Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA, and Blatter was reelected.