Within the tatty environment of a newspaper workplace on the paradise island of Trinidad, carrying a dishevelled shirt and surrounded by damaged chairs, Jack Warner is a pale imitation of the person who as soon as led the excessive life as one in every of world soccer’s true energy brokers.
For 3 many years, Warner was an enormous presence within the international recreation, a first-class flier to five-star inns who rubbed shoulders with presidents, prime ministers and princes.
However that was earlier than the spectacular fall from grace, earlier than the allegations of widespread corruption began to seep out, earlier than the FBI fraud prices, and earlier than he was barred from all soccer.
Jack Warner has damaged his silence of England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid with Russia successful
And earlier than final night time’s extraordinary apology for robbing England of the prospect to host the 2018 World Cup and permitting Prince William to imagine he had supported the bid.
‘I failed, I erred and I apologise profusely for that,’ Warner mentioned. ‘However I believed it was Russia’s time to host a World Cup and I’ve no remorse.’
Warner, 79, whom FIFA barred from soccer for all times in 2015, is extensively thought of the kingpin whose alleged corruption allowed Qatar to ‘purchase’ its method into internet hosting this yr’s match.
The previous FIFA vice-president is combating extradition to the US on a number of corruption prices
The previous FIFA vice-president is combating extradition to america on a number of corruption prices, together with accusations he pocketed a $5million (£4.3m) ‘bribe’ to help Russia’s successful bid.
Final night time, he broke years of silence to confess he understands the hatred in direction of him in England — but mockingly additionally says he can be supporting the workforce in Qatar.
In a unprecedented interview from the workplaces of the native newspaper he runs in his native Trinidad — a rustic he has not left for the reason that US filed 29 prices of fraud, corruption and money-laundering in opposition to him in 2015 — he mentioned: ‘The place I failed is I ought to have informed England very early of what my intention was. I didn’t try this and subsequently they have been led alongside to imagine I used to be supporting them.
Warner’s half-hearted apology was described as ‘too little, too late’ by one insider with information of his dealings in the course of the England World Cup bid. ‘He agreed to help England, informed everybody he was supporting England after which, on the final minute, he took the bribe from Russia,’ the supply mentioned. ‘The man has by no means spoken so kudos to you [the MoS] for getting him to talk.’
In December 2010, FIFA hosted the elections to resolve who ought to host each the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, with the FA placing collectively a star-studded bid workforce for the primary match.
They misplaced out to Russia whereas Qatar shocked the soccer world by successful the suitable to stage this yr’s match.
Warner bragged about assembly the late Queen, Prince William and David Beckham, who flew to Trinidad and hosted teaching courses within the hope of successful Warner’s help for the UK bid.
The previous head of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Affiliation Soccer (CONCACAF) mentioned: ‘I met the Queen, I met her husband. The Queen gave me her aircraft to go to Eire. England was excellent to me.’
Referring to his assembly with Prince William, he mentioned: ‘I by no means mentioned [to him] that I’d vote for them. I mentioned, in fact, I’d give it some critical thought.
‘Even when the English workforce got here right here [to Trinidad] and Beckham got here and did teaching programs and so forth, they requested me to make a press release that Jack Warner of CONCACAF now supported the England bid.
‘I didn’t do it. I by no means made a public endorsement of something.’
Warner met the late Queen, Prince William and David Beckham after they flew to Trinidad
Chatting with Prior Beharry of AZPNews.com, Warner — who reportedly could have made as much as $100m in bribes throughout his greater than two-decade profession on the pinnacle of soccer — admitted he gave Workforce England the impression he could be supporting them.
‘That’s the place I erred. I gave them that impression and I shouldn’t have. And that’s the place I erred and presumably I’m paying a worth for that right this moment.’
Right now he’s a pale imitation of the person whose vice-like grip on the sport made him each feared and despised. Carrying a crumpled shirt, he speaks within the rundown workplaces of ‘Sunshine Right now’, an area newspaper he arrange shortly after US authorities filed prices in 2015.
Damaged chairs litter the room. A plastic desk with dried flowers sits within the nook. His life right this moment couldn’t be additional away from his glory days travelling the world in top quality, staying at five-star inns and hobnobbing with world leaders whose names he rattles off at will.
‘There’s no person within the Western world who has travelled greater than I, who has met nationwide leaders from Mandela to Putin from Joe Biden to Invoice Clinton and Barack Obama. I’ve sat with all of them.’
His attraction in opposition to extradition to the US was turned down by the Appeals Court docket in Trinidad and is now being heard by the Privy Council within the UK, the very best attraction court docket for a Commonwealth nation. Warner, who faces spending the remainder of his life in jail if convicted within the US, says he believes he’ll get a good listening to on the Privy Council.
‘They don’t have any axe to grind. I really feel protected and sound that I shall be judged pretty earlier than them and, on the finish of the day, I’m simply ready to see what the result shall ultimately be.’
Warner not often watches soccer any extra, saying: ‘I don’t have a look at soccer. I have a look at cricket. I’m a cricket fanatic now.’
Satirically, he can be supporting England after they tackle the US within the group phases in Qatar.
‘It doesn’t matter to me who wins however should you ask me that twice I’ll inform you [I support] England as a result of America has carried out injury to me and my household and subsequently I’m pained with America so I hope they get knocked out first. However past that, I don’t care.’
He accepts British followers hate him: ‘Sure, they hate me. However hatred doesn’t final perpetually. Sooner or later in time they’ve to come back again to actuality. Once you hate any individual a lot it tends to devour you and that’s what impacts you in the long run.’
Talking a few £10m Netflix documentary sequence ‘FIFA Uncovered’ which airs subsequent month and is predicted to ‘eviscerate’ Warner and his pivotal position within the large bribery scandal surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, he mentioned: ’It doesn’t curiosity me. I can be concerned in it, they are saying.
‘I’ve stopped soccer. I say to Netflix: “Get a life!”. In the event that they imagine that it will assist them make some cash, go forward.
‘I’ve insulated myself from criticism and [from] soccer. If not I’d have been useless already. I received’t watch it and I don’t even wish to hear about it. I stay intentionally in a sort of cocoon. I’ve internally migrated, for need of a greater time period, and subsequently this stuff don’t fear me any extra.’
Warner spends his days rising early. He walks every day from 3.30am to 4.30am, with armed bodyguards, earlier than working at his cluttered desk inside his newspaper workplaces in a poor a part of a city the place he claims he was as soon as an area hero.
‘There are guys who think about me there to be a demigod, a semi-god, as a result of I repair their roads, their bridges,’ he mentioned. ‘I went to their features. I gave scholarships for youngsters of cane farmers. You title it I did it. Wherever an issue arose I used to be current.’
After work he drinks along with his cronies in an area bar taking part in his favorite card recreation. There isn’t a signal of the large wealth he’s mentioned to have accrued. He claims to have misplaced $2m in the course of the pandemic from misplaced rental earnings on properties he owns on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
However he refuses to be drawn on claims he has stashed away tens of millions in off-shore accounts.
An individual who is aware of him properly says: ‘He used to stay massive. Now, he nonetheless has a pleasant home, the identical home he’s at all times lived in, however he’s a tragic determine. If he has cash stashed away, which all of us assume he has, then he’s not utilizing it. Possibly he’s spending all of it on attorneys to cease spending the remainder of his days in jail?
‘He’s develop into one thing of a pathetic determine. He was once so highly effective. He’s nonetheless conceited. He stood within the native parliamentary elections lately and misplaced. Right here on the islands he’s nonetheless revered by some individuals.
‘He was sort to poor individuals. He tried to painting himself as a Robin Hood-type of character. In his defence, he did do good for the very poor.
Warner has been accused of accepting bribes from Vladimir Putin to host the 2018 World Cup
‘However he was at all times corrupt, he spent 30 years being corrupt. There are various individuals who hope he’ll lastly be delivered to justice however he’s escaped it to this point in order that hope is tempered in actuality.’
Warner stays unrepentant about switching his vote to Russia after President Vladimir Putin personally lobbied him — and allegedly paid him tens of millions through off-shore shell corporations to ‘purchase’ his vote.
Within the US indictment he’s accused of accepting $5m in bribes from Putin and his cronies. Warner continues to disclaim he was purchased off and vehemently denies all prices in opposition to him.
‘In the long run once I sat down I realised that England had hosted World Cups earlier than,’ he mentioned, seemingly ignorant to the actual fact the nation has hosted only one, in 1966.
‘Russia had by no means hosted a World Cup and I felt it was Russia’s flip. After I sit again now and mirror I’ve no trigger for grief as a result of I imagine truthfully I did the suitable factor.’
The Privy Council has not set a date on when it’ll rule on whether or not Warner must be extradited to the US. Sources in America say, due to his age, Warner can be placed on a ‘quick observe’ for trial.
A authorized supply with information of the case mentioned: ‘It’s shameful that this criminal, probably the most corrupt males ever in soccer, remains to be strolling round.’ Warner is free on $2.5m bail.
‘If he loses his attraction in opposition to extradition, count on issues to maneuver rapidly. The Feds have wished this man for a very long time. He’s of their sights. They imagine they’ve a rock stable case in opposition to him and are decided justice can be carried out.’
The FBI declined to remark final night time, saying they by no means touch upon energetic instances. Two of Warner’s sons pleaded responsible to corruption prices.
Warner claims he has been ‘harassed’ by worldwide media for the reason that FIFA corruption scandal erupted. The BBC and others have been met with silence, one thing he understands will make this — his first interview since prices have been introduced — explosive.
He mentioned: ‘The media hates me. I can by no means get a good trial. So that’s the reason I’ve by no means spoken.’