Therapy! We Have A Problem

By Zaheer E. Clarke

(Published Monday, June 29, 2015)

West Indian cricket fans

West Indian cricket fans in happier times

My editor-in-chief said nothing. However, what my heart said was thunderous and comprehendible. Though unmortgaged as to what I should write, I felt over the past few weeks, I somehow shirked my duty to my beloved, my first love.

I spoke effortlessly about Track and Field, Horse Racing, Basketball, and Football (2 articles at that). My editors and the loyal followers of my column, blog, and social media page, seemingly revelled in the novelty and depth I brought to these other sporting sects of import.

However, no glorification bestowed sufficed, or became the balm for the West Indian infliction that staked my cricket-loving heart. This slacking or goldbricking by me went unnoticed like a nonentity checking himself into rehab. Yes, rehab, all because of West Indies cricket. Nevertheless, a jailbreak or therapy was well needed if my sanity was to stay intact, yet free from West Indies cricket. Continue reading

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A glass of Gin for a Pharaoh

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published June 22, 2015

American Pharoah with Jockey Victor Espinoza onboard gallops to Triple Crown glory at the 2015 Belmont Stakes

American Pharoah with Jockey Victor Espinoza onboard gallops to Triple Crown glory at the 2015 Belmont Stakes. © NewsDay

As the commentator’s voice heaved desperately for air, he yelled with passion and stark excitement, “And down the stretch they come! It’s Go For Gin digging in and holding on! He is going to win the Kentucky Derby!”

I recall it vividly as if only a second has passed. I was sitting before my telly on the first Saturday in May 1994. A few months before, my parents had moved into their own home. It was no Hollywood Hills’ mansion, but it was theirs and they were proud. This was my first Kentucky Derby race live, and the commentator’s words in the closing furlong got me hooked to horse racing like white on rice. Continue reading

FIFA Scandal Part 2: A Tangled Jeffrey Webb

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published June 15, 2015

Indicted CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb (centre) is flanked by indicted former CONCACAF President Jack Warner (right) and FIFA President Sepp Blatter (left)

Indicted CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb (centre) is flanked by indicted former CONCACAF President Jack Warner (right) and FIFA President Sepp Blatter (left)

In my last article, I likened former CONCACAF president Jack Warner to Don Vito Corleone from “The Godfather”, FIFA’s own Mafia boss, or one of many it would seem. If Jack was Don Vito, without question, Jeffrey Webb, his successor was Don Michael Corleone, Vito’s son and successor. Webb, like Warner, was arrested a few weeks ago for Byzantine Sicilian-type schemes involving conspiracy, wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.

In Sicilian crime families, there is an organizational structure. A boss or don is the head of the crime family. His second in command or future successor is the underboss, and his advisor, counselor, or accountant often acts as his consigliere. These three comprise the “Administration”, or the ruling panel in the crime family. Continue reading

FIFA Scandal Part 1: “What is in it for us?” – Jack Warner

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published June 8, 2015

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Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, former vice president of FIFA is currently facing racketeering, wire fraud, bribery and conspiracy charges. The US Government has sought his extradition from Trinidad and Tobago.

A few weeks ago, prior to the reelection of FIFA President Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, the US government through the FBI delivered stupefying charges and a 47-count indictment against Jack Warner, and nine other high-ranking former and current members of FIFA, and sports marketing companies. The revelations were stunning and the alleged networks, schemes, and influence of Warner, and others were Mafia-esque, barring the killing.

A story is told by Chuck Blazer, former general secretary of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), of a presentation made by the Russians before the CONCACAF Executive Committee with regard to the 2018 World Cup host bid. At the conclusion of the presentation, CONCACAF President Warner uttered six words that startled the Russians, “What is in it for us?” These words hint at the nefariousness of today’s FIFA: an organization apparently void of altruism, riddled with corruption, and a ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back’ type of mentality.

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The US Attorney General and the FBI have indicted Warner, and nine others on 47 counts including fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering.

While reading the 164-page indictment, Warner’s name was mentioned 105 times with 8 of the 47 counts connected to him. His alleged involvement and orchestration of the various schemes of racketeering, fraud, bribery, and money laundering read like the script of the Godfather movie, and Jack was the real life Don Vito Corleone.

Of interest, and heavily under reported is the alleged schemes that saw Jack defraud CONCACAF, Caribbean Football Union (CFU), and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. In addition, the knavish stratagems supposedly used to accept bribes and kickbacks, to launder cash, and to prevent suspicious arousal ranged from ingenious to egotistical.

CONCACAF GOLD CUP SCHEME

Warner and Chuck Blazer have been implicated in a bribery scheme for the 2010 World Cup which was granted to South Africa

Warner and Chuck Blazer have been implicated in a bribery scheme for the 2010 World Cup which was granted to South Africa

One of the sports marketing companies at the yoke of this indictment is Traffic Sports USA, Inc. Traffic USA was “involved in the purchase and sale of media and marketing rights associated with (football) in the United States and other parts of CONCACAF”. They acquired the “exclusive worldwide commercial rights to the Gold Cup” from CONCACAF for five consecutive editions from 1996 to 2003. In exchange for this, its alleged bribe payments were made to Warner and Blazer for the acquisition and renewal of these rights.

One such example listed as evidence is Traffic USA’s payment of US$ 200,000, in March 1999, to an intermediary’s New York bank account. The intermediary then credited said amount to a bank account controlled by Chuck Blazer in the Cayman Islands. A few weeks later in April 1999, Blazer transferred half of the amount, US$ 100,000 to a bank account in the name of Jack Warner, in Trinidad and Tobago.

CFU WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS SCHEME

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It’s alleged Warner defraud CONCACAF, CFU & TTFF of funds that should have been used for the development of football in the region.

According to all reports, Warner was a demigod in his posts as FIFA vice president, CONCACAF and CFU president, and ‘special advisor’ to TTFF. It’s further alleged, “He mingled his personal assets with those of CONCACAF, CFU, and TTFF”, and diverted “FIFA, CONCACAF, and CFU funds into accounts he controlled and used for his personal benefit”.

One example of this is the CFU World Cup Qualifier scheme outlined in the indictment. CFU member associations would pool their “home team” rights and have CFU President Warner sell them to sports marketing companies, like Traffic USA. This was done “prior to the draw for the next round of the World Cup qualifier matches to maximize leverage and increase profitability to all the members”.

As part of an alleged bribe scheme with Traffic USA, its alleged Warner negotiated a parallel deal, purportedly on behalf of TTFF, in his role as ‘special advisor’ to TTFF. This despite the TTFF rights being already collectively purchased as part of the CFU contract. “The TTFF contract” as alleged was really a Warner bribe payment and hidden from all CFU member associations.

President Barack Obama is presented with soccer jerseys for his daughters, Sasha and Malia by FIFA President Joseph Blatter during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday, July 27, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Barack Obama is presented with soccer jerseys for his daughters, Sasha and Malia by FIFA President Joseph Blatter during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday, July 27, 2009.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Alleged examples of this were the 2006 and 2010 World Cup qualifiers contracts with Traffic USA. For both qualifiers, Traffic USA was to pay US$800,000 on “the TTFF contract” separate from “the CFU contract” payments which already included the TTFF rights. Purportedly, the payments made on “the TTFF contracts” were transferred directly into personal accounts of Jack Warner, and not TTFF accounts.

OTHER NOTABLE SCHEMES

Much reported in the media are the 1998 and 2010 FIFA World Cup Vote schemes as well as the 2011 FIFA Presidential Election scheme. However, under-reported are the dodgy details of these schemes. For example, of the 10 million dollars wired from FIFA to CONCACAF and CFU accounts under the guise of South Africa’s “contribution to their football development fund”, much, if not all of it was used by Warner for his personal use.

It’s alleged some was used towards his personal loan accounts; another portion was used as partial payment to Blazer for his South Africa 2010 World Cup Vote; and other substantial amounts were also laundered through a Trinidadian supermarket enterprise and a real estate and investment company, to Warner’s personal bank accounts.

Mohammed bin Hammam and Jack Warner were at the centre of the 2011 FIFA Presidential alleged bribery facilitation meeting with CFU member associations.

Mohammed bin Hammam and Jack Warner were at the centre of the alleged 2011 FIFA Presidential bribery facilitation meeting with CFU member associations.

Warner’s end in world football coincided with his involvement in the 2011 FIFA Presidential Election bribery facilitation. Unbeknownst to the CFU members, who received US$40,000 apiece at the CFU meeting, was bin Hammam’s alleged payment of over US$1.2 million to Warner, two months after facilitating the meeting. No wonder it’s alleged after Jack found out they reported him to Blazer and FIFA, Jack said to the CFU members: “There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you’re pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business”. I guess Jack’s business and FIFA’s are now the world’s business and the FIFA we now know will change to a virtuous organization. Don’t hold your breath, friends.

JFF?

Lastly, of fascination in my reading of the indictment was Co-conspirator #23. He was a high-ranking official of one of FIFA’s national member associations; an official of FIFA and CFU; a businessman; a close associate of indicted CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb; and had a connection to a non-US overseas company that manufactured football uniforms and balls. I’m compelled, yet almost fearful to ask US Attorney General Loretta Lynch this question: “Is this co-conspirator a high-profile official of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF)?” All I’ll say now is…

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zaheerfactsliesstatistics

Email: zaheer.lies.and.statistics@gmail.com

From the “Lies & Statistics” Column in the Western Mirror (Published Monday, June 8, 2015)

Mixing Business with Sports: A Heartless Dichotomy

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published June 1, 2015

Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been the Gibraltar of West Indies middle order for over 21 years.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been the Gibraltar of West Indies middle order for over 21 years.

Carlos Smith has been an insurance agent most of his life. He entered the field straight out of high school and has worked 41 years for the same company. Carlos has won many individual performance awards, including insurance agent of the year, but he can be unassuming, sometimes even forgettable. He is a guy who gets the job done, doesn’t toot his own horn, a honest team player. He is respectful, resilient, and humble yet takes pride in his job. After a generation with this prestigious company, they retired him after he took ill and missed work for two months. He wanted to come back, but they said no. A fresh out of high school recruit eventually replaced him.

Peter King is narcissistic, as the name evokes, and everyone knows it. He was the chief financial officer (CFO) for another insurance company for 15 years. Peter famously mouthed off to the company President, let the cat out of the bag about the CEO, and other executives in disparaging terms with coworkers, and even with rival companies. He was a top performer, though, and did his job exceptionally well. However, after 58 quarters of making and exceeding targets, they sacked him after two consecutive quarters of less than expected profits. The company got a new President and CEO. Peter applied for his old job and they informed him that if he worked his way upward through their junior accounting department, he could get his old job back. After two years of exceptional performances in the junior department, the President and CEO told him that he would never be CFO again. Simply, the other executives on the board didn’t trust him. Continue reading