Tue | Apr 25, 2017

Trinis' turn to extradite don

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2015 | 5:00 AM

When an acquaintance I know to be a troublemaker called me up and excitedly panted: "Seet deh! You see de USA want fi tell wi how wi mus' carry on our own business!" I knew immediately he was complaining about the buggery specialists that Obama had sent here to get us in line.

But then he carried on: "Once again dis madness inna de USA is messing wid mi religion!" Now I'm thinking it's about the amorous Father Romeo. But again I was wrong!

This man was talking football and the FIFA scandal that has pretty much swept everything else off the agenda. In terms of news magnitude, nothing competes. After all is said and done, raising the PICA fare gave a few score people a few days of merriment, but now it's fizzled. And potential fallout from PICA is nothing compared to what could happen if channels start to get chopped off cable. Awhoa! Don't romp wid de TV! Now we're talking about serious infringement on human rights and basic standards of living.

Meanwhile, an upgrade from Moody's ratings agency passed without so much as a blink. And who knows: Without the additional discomfiture of singular-focused media attention, even public-sector wage negotiations may actually get a chance to advance.

 

crash course in FIFA skulduggery

 

Bottom line is that this week we all got a crash course in FIFA skulduggery. I had no idea. As an occasional consumer of footy, easily the world's most popular sport, I assumed that this thing was run on principles similar to the United Nations. Yes, I was vaguely aware of allegations that the governance structure of the sport was rotten, but I had paid little heed beyond that.

But the Caribbean is in the thick of it. With 25 of the 209 votes, we're part of Sepp Blatter's garrison! And by the time you throw in other parts of CONCACAF, then the Africans and the Asians, the man's lead is near impregnable. Short of being caught over a body with a dripping dagger, Blatter will win any vote. So if his removal is an imperative, it must be achieved by other means.

It turns out, for instance, that one major problem is that FIFA is neither fish, flesh nor fowl. It's not a government agency, an international agency, a private business, or any sort of common NGO. On the other hand, it is an impressively powerful and wealthy private club bearing features of a non-governmental organisation, but with quasi-governmental power, scale and reach, and it's churning and channelling billions of dollars like any multinational corporation. I wonder if our JFF follows this ambiguous structure?

FIFA's 'grey' status seems to have made it a fertile ground for graft, and those in the know aren't shocked at all at what is coming out. They're shocked someone is doing something about it.

The man who ran FIFA before Blatter, Joao Havelange, is known to have taken many millions for marketing and broadcast rights. Blatter, for the 1998 vote that resulted in his ascension, handed out cash called "development money". And since then he's never abandoned the path of clientelism and the distribution of scarce benefits and spoils.

 

Everybody gets the same money

 

In fact, he has fully implemented the FIFA version of the Karl Samuda proposal for funding to the 228 parish council divisions here: Everybody gets the same money. That means that large countries with massive football programmes got the same funding as small islands and little wisps of territory. The islands have liked it, but you can imagine not everyone does.

In other words, FIFA is essentially run like a Caribbean country, and that's why Uncle Sam has had to step in and clean things up.

We've grown accustomed to activity from the Southern District of New York echoing down in the Caribbean. The Tivoli enquiry is, in one sense, just the aftermath of savvy prosecutors there building a case. They certainly gave us our most exciting extradition drama to date.

Now comes the Eastern District of New York stepping up to bat and promising to give Trinidad their most exciting extradition drama. Jack Warner left detention on this matter and went straight for a political rally to warn his former buddy, Kamla, that the gloves are off and him gwine buss de file.

On the same day the United States (US) announced its charges, Switzerland also revealed that it had launched an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 Russia World Cup and the 2022 tournament with hosts Qatar. This should prove interesting, too, because just the very idea that Qatar, a bump of oil-laden sand, could host a World Cup is hilarious. We may as well ask the players to run up and down in a massive oven.

The scale of corruption being charged is quite breathtaking, and includes racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. That hasn't stopped Vlad Putin, the Russian autocrat who sees the hand of US imperialism in all things. He has already charged that this is Yankee overreach into affairs in which they have no business. As usual, he's wrong.

The world ought to be grateful that the Americans, who annoyingly won't even call the game by its obviously correct name, have shown a willingness to do what nobody else would, and descend into the cesspit with hoses and shovel.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.