This story is cross-posted from Ginge Talks the Footy
"National pride must take precedence over mercenary feelings." -Jack Warner
Oh Jack, you sleazy weasel. You're at it again, turning things around and trying to make players standing up for their financial rights in to the bad guys. Only you Jack would unleash something as ridiculous as the above quote and while we've all come to expect nothing less, it's doesn't make it any better.
This new ridiculous qualifying World Cup qualifying system that eliminates meaningful US v. Mexico matches is a prime example of the negative effect Warner's power over the region has. It's also the ethos of why he makes statements like the above quote and sides with the Jamaican Football Federation against the players.
First, some background. After Jamaican National Team's opening match of the 2010 Caribbean Cup, the players united and demanded a per-diem increase, along with 80% of all winnings (should they win the top prize), from the JFF. If their demands were not met, the team vowed to walk out and abandon the remainder of the tournament.
Led by Senior players Shavar Thomas, Luton Shelton, Rodolph Austin and Jermaine Taylor the team cited poor training conditions leading up the tournament and a history of the players willingness to work with the JFF. They insisted the demands were based on principle, saying their protest were on behalf of players who previously represented the nation and ended up with not much to show for it and younger local players who are perhaps badly in need of the income.
"We won't lace up our boots unless we get the full per diem and 80 per cent of the win bonus," Shavar Thomas told the media. "We have often been playing underpaid and under compensated, travelling far and wide sometimes without per diem. None of us do this for the money."
Jamaica's cash strapped federation bowed the the demands with JFF President Captain Horace Burrell promising to make up the difference with personal funds.
However you feel about the player's action if up to you and the point of this post isn't criticize them. It's about the aftermath and more specifically, CONCACAF President Jack Warner's comments from after the tournament's conclusion and where the quote that began this story originated from.
"I have felt in many ways the pain of Captain Burrell, because what he had to go through to reach this stage, for me it was tough,"
"To be held to ransom, and in my humble view, to be blackmailed by a team is unacceptable, and I want to say to you that the pain he has felt I feel for him, for the Caribbean, because it is a precedent that will be set in the Caribbean, unless we begin to stop it at this point in time. In fact, I have told him even the rules shall be amended to facilitate countries bringing in teams at the last minute that face this situation.
"National pride must take precedence over money. National pride must take precedence over mercenary feelings and in that context, therefore, I'm pained. But at the end of the day, Captain stood up as a big man and he has saved the day; and today, Jamaica and the whole Caribbean are happy, not because Guadeloupe have lost, but because in my humble view, a bona fide country has won and therefore football in the Caribbean has been saved, also."
Since when do you give a damn about national pride, or players, or federations? Sure you are typically "pro-federation" especially when it comes to the multitude of small Caribbean nations but that's not because you are a nice guy. It's all about votes and keeping all those poor countries at your teet so they'll vote the way you want them to when it comes to CONCACAF issues.
In all honesty, it's a genius maneuver by Warner as he steals money from all this small nations yet some or most of them seem to believe that he is some kind of champion for the little guy, fighting against the evil "big" nations that would chose to sweep them under the proverbial rug.
Warner is doing some classic media spin by trying to turn any player who dares to demand proper compensation from their federation for national team performance in to a greedy, self-serving mercenary. It's disgusting, but what's worse? Some people will buy it.
Even worse, Warner wants to amend tournament rules to prevent teams from protesting in the future, going so far as to suggest bringing in alternate players. This is basic fascist dictator behavior, rather than work to solve the under lying problems, let's ignore it and just cover up the issue. Then when no one is looking, we punish those that dared to stir the pot in the first place. It's disgusting and it's how Warner works.
Warner doesn't give a damn about anything but himself, his power and his money. CONCACAF is little more than a means to an end for Warner who globe trots on FIFA business under the protection of Sepp Blatter extorting money and gifts from anyone who gives him the time of day, while allowing soccer in the myriad of small CONCACAF nations to suffer miserably.
You need to not look any farther than Warner's home nation of Trinidad and Tobago that continuously refuses to pay owed money to players and staff alike. Yet here is Warner spouting off about players abandoning national pride in favor or mercenary-like demands. It's the same two-faced nonsense that has come to define Warner's reign of terror over CONCACAF and sadly there is no sign of the insanity ending.
At best, Warner is joke. At worst, he's a criminal and a thief, but sadly CONCACAF is stuck with him, like a giant life-sucking parasite that won't kill us but prevents soccer in North and Central America from ever being as good as it could be. The day when you are no longer an influential power in soccer can not come soon enough.
Will anyone stand up to this man? Does anyone at US Soccer or the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación have the balls to attempt to force Warner out? History says absolutely not, which is really sad.