Sat | Sep 24, 2022

Ricketts expresses sympathy for Warner

Published:Thursday | June 13, 2019 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe - Sports Editor
FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

REIMS, France:

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts is sure to raise a few eyebrows after expressing ‘sympathy’ towards disgraced former FIFA vice-president Trinidadian Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, who lost his appeal over the dismissal of his lawsuit, which challenged an extradition request for him from the United States.

Three appellant judges dismissed Warner’s claims, however, the Appeal Court has stayed the magisterial proceedings for 21 days, pending an application by Warner to take his case to the Privy Council.

Warner, a former president of the regional football authority Concacaf, was at the centre of a massive corruption scandal that shook the very foundation of world football in 2015 after a cross-agency investigation and was charged in the United States for wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. Warner, who is also implicated in several other corruption allegations, was also banned from all football-related matter at all levels for the rest of his life.

Se­nior ex­ec­u­tives in­dict­ed

A number of other se­nior ex­ec­u­tives of FIFA were also in­dict­ed on a number of charges af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which was con­duct­ed by the US Fed­er­al Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion and the De­part­ment of Jus­tice.

Ricketts acknowledged the major fallout experienced by nations in the region after the scandal but expressed sadness at the controversial former administrator’s legal troubles.

“The truth is that I am saddened by the development. I am pretty certain, though, that he would want to exhaust all the opportunities, so I would think he will next go to the Privy Council,” Ricketts told The Gleaner yesterday. “I know that Mr Warner has done a lot for football, not just for his native Trinidad and Tobago, and it is certainly indeed sad and unfortunate. I just hope he will be in a position to defend himself. You don’t rejoice at the demise of your colleague so, as I say, it is unfortunate, and I am saddened from a personal perspective and I want to think that on behalf of the JFF, I want to express my sympathies.”

Ricketts stressed that Warner, with whom, he stated, he did not have a personal relationship, was innocent until proven guilty and that he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

“He would have done a lot for the Caribbean. Unfortunately, he has been a part of an alleged group that would have been involved in misappropriation, but as far as I know, until he is proven guilty, then it’s just an allegation,” Ricketts added. “I am sorry and depressed, but I am hopeful that when it gets to the Privy Council that something in his favour will manifest itself.”

The JFF boss acknowledged the impact of the allegations surrounding Warner and others on regional teams and highlighted the ongoing efforts to reassure stakeholders and ensure the credibility of the global football leadership.

“Certainly, it (scandal) would have affected the integrity of each Caribbean nation and certainly the CFU (Caribbean Football Union) and by extension Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) and by further extension, FIFA.

“We are in the process now and by ‘we’ I mean this current FIFA administration, of trying to clean up the mess that was created. We are very fortunate to be in administration now when the present president is on a move to create more equity and transparency in governance,” said Ricketts.

Warner’s appeal was based on his argument that his country’s extradition treaty with the United States contradicts the Ex­tra­di­tion (Com­mon­wealth and For­eign Ter­ri­to­ries) Act.