Warner’s resignation a loss for the region, says Roberts

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad,  CMC – Trinidad and Tobago Sports Minister Anil Roberts has described Jack Warner’s resignation from FIFA as a serious blow to the country and the Caribbean.

Roberts, who sits alongside Warner in the Cabinet of the coalition government, said the region had benefitted from the former FIFA vice-president’s influence and his absence would now create doubts about the Caribbean’s place in world football.

“It’s shocking … not only for football in T&T but in CONCACAF and beyond,” Roberts said yesterday.

“The region is at a loss, as he has brought a lot of benefits to the region, in particular, bringing an additional one and a half spots to the World Cup for CONCACAF. I am shocked. World football is also at a grave loss, Asia, Africa and the entire Caribbean.”

In the face of the ongoing cash-for-votes scandal, Warner yesterday quit as a FIFA vice-president, the Caribbean Football Union and also resigned as head of CONCACAF, the continental governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean.

His move ended nearly three decades of service as a FIFA executive member and his 14-year stint as a vice-president. He has run CONCACAF since 1990 and under his watch, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago became the first ever English-speaking Caribbean nations to reach World Cup finals.

Roberts said with Warner gone, T&T would be unlikely to benefit as it did in the past.

“It’s unlikely T&T is going to be seeing junior World Cups and associated tournaments with Jack Warner out of the picture,” he explained. “Funding is going to become an issue.”

Warner found himself at the centre of corruption allegations after a report to FIFA alleged that he, along with former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam, had offered cash bribes to CFU members at a meeting here last month, in exchange for supporting  bin Hammam in the June 1 FIFA election.

Both men were suspended from football activities while the FIFA ethics committee launched investigations into the matter.

With Warner’s resignation, however, FIFA said yesterday the probe would now be dropped.

“As a consequence of Mr Warner’s self-determined resignation, all Ethics Committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained,” a FIFA statement said.

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