Thursday 14th February, 2008


England FA wants apology from Warner

...or no friendly against Warriors

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THE English FA is reported to have agreed to visit Trinidad and Tobago to play a friendly against the “Soca Warriors” subject to two conditions: Jack Warner apologies for calling them an irritant, and an agreement is reached with Trinidad and Tobago players over World Cup monies owed from the 2006 tournament.

The trip is not just a test for the England team and their new coach Fabio Capello, but also a way to win Warner’s backing for England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

Condition one appears to have been met, albeit in a roundabout way. Referring to an interview with the BBC in 2007 in which he described the English FA as being regarded as an “irritant” and having had no impact upon the game at a world level, Warner stated that his comments were merely restating the opinions of others, rather than voicing his own.

“To assume that I had a personal grudge against England is incorrect,” said Warner, reports London newspaper, the Telegraph.

“Frankly, without my active support, there still would not be an Englishman in Fifa’s Executive Committee today,” an apparent reference to Warner’s protests of racism when John McBeth mentioned the existence of corruption within African and Caribbean football associations.

“The FA are fully aware of all of this and I am certain that nobody of relevance within the FA would have believed that Jack Warner is England’s enemy.

“Numerous European football grandees have often made depreciative remarks about England in the past. What I did was merely to state them and share them with the public at large. Unfortunately, it was subsequently construed to be Jack Warner’s opinion.”

Agreement with players

If the rumours are true, then now all that remains to be solved for England to travel to Trinidad is for the T&T Football Federation (TTFF) to reach an agreement with players from T&T over World Cup monies owed.

As reported by Play the Game in 2007, the TTFF, which employs Warner as its special adviser, is accused of understating accounts leading to players being offered approximately US$800 as a revenue linked performance bonus for the 2006 World Cup. This is despite revenues running into millions of dollars according to the T&T government.

The dispute led to a blacklist of players being drawn up, who were banned from representing their country after seeking legal counsel over the terms of the bonus.

Play the Game has learnt from Shaka Hislop, one of the blacklisted players and vice-president of the Football Players Association of T&T that the decision over bonuses will go to arbitration in April.

That means the English FA will still have to wait a couple more months before they can confirm their friendly tie against T&T for June.

World Cup 2018

Staging a friendly in Trinidad in June would be regarded as a boost for England’s chances of staging the 2018 World Cup, as Trinidadian Warner holds direct sway over three votes out of the 24 deciding the tournament’s host. For the TTFF, the match would be a celebration of the organisation’s centenary, as well as being a potential money-spinner.

Ironically, it is believed that the initial anger Warner voiced against the FA was over the decision not to send an international side to T&T in August to mark the TTFF centenary. The FA’s offer to send a representative team instead was dismissed, and the fixture was shelved, leading to the outburst.

At the time, there were fears that playing the game after Euro 2008 could have led to complaints from Premiership club managers, as the game would have been played just prior to the start of the 2008/2009 season. However, now with England out of Euro 2008, the June timing of the proposed match is much more convenient for the FA, as well as England 2018 hopes.

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