Jack tells Crawfie pay
... for Peru match seat at Stadium
By KIRK PERREIRA
THE self-proclaimed guru of local football, Austin Jack Warner, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation's special advisor and much-touted financier, has asked former Olympic 100-metre gold medallist Hasely Crawford to pay for his (Crawford's) ticket to see the friendly international between TnT and Peru at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Wednesday, May 10.
This was revealed on a Wednesday morning radio programme featuring Sports Minister Roger Boynes and Warner, discussing the issue of Government funding for the Germany-bound Soca Warriors and other relevant matters, including the exorbitant ticket prices being charged to football fans, who would be seeing some of their football heroes for the last time, including former national captain Russell Latapy.
Boynes told the listening audience that Warner had written a letter to Crawford the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games champion requesting he pay for his ticket for the Peru game, priced at $500 for the covered stand of the stadium that carries his name.
“Hasely is very upset about it,” Boynes added.
Warner then admitted to the travesty, but defended his position by saying “everyone got the letter”.
It was revealed that Crawford has four seats in the Minister's Box, which has 28 seats and is not under the control of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) for the warm-up match.
The talk show was promoted like a heavyweight title boxing match but Boynes and Warner were only shadow boxing in the early rounds, and the intensity of the “fight” only increased when former Sports Ministry advisor and talk show host, Anil Roberts “stormed the ring” to get in some blows at Boynes.
Warner was reduced to “sitting on the ropes” as Roberts repeatedly asked the Sports Minister to clarify the ministry's policy relating to the funding of athletes or sporting organisations for grants or funding.
Boynes clearly showed signs of “ring rust” and was obviously not well prepared for a head-to-head tussle with Warner, who did not get in one decisive blow at his political adversary.
At one point, Warner accused the Minister of deliberately misleading the nation, but then corrected himself by saying Boynes' advisors were “misleading you”.
Warner was also critical of government's tardy payment schedule for Cabinet's approved $45 million in funding for the Soca Warriors and the team's World Cup preparation and participation, but Boynes quickly shot back that the $14.4 paid on Monday was on the basis of “evidence of proof of payment” and any further payments had to be accounted for by his ministry, since it was taxpayers' money.
“… I paid $3.5 million for accommodation,” Warner interjected, “(but) if there is no Jack Warner, what would happen?”
A fitter, quicker Boynes might have slipped the “body blow”, but Roberts had entered the fray, and the Minister was now clearly outnumbered and he was at his wits end to defend his position with the swim coach “jamming hard”.
Boynes, however, did retain some of his ring savvy, and when the heat went up, he scolded Warner for not providing proof of the coaches' salary and stipend in time, otherwise Warner would not have received another $7 million.
“If you say you have paid the proof, we must have proof of payment, because we could double-pay the coach,” Boynes stated.
Boynes then added that government had arranged for Petrotrin to donate $1 million, and National Gas Company to donate a further $1.5 million to the team, and he knew of other sponsorship deals from British Gas, BHP Billiton and Carib Brewery.
“They got $20 million when they asked for $13 (million),” Boynes declared.
Boynes then added that Cabinet gave approval for the $45 million sponsorship package on the basis of football fans paying $200 for the Covered Stand and $100 for the Uncovered Stand for the Peru match, but ticket prices had been raised to $500 (Covered) and $300 (Uncovered).
The Sports Minister thrashed Warner for complaining that the TTFF lost on the Iceland game on Carnival Tuesday in London, when the Cabinet financial allocation for the Soca Warriors took in the away games in the team's preparations.
He then stated that a company had donated $350,000 for that match.
Without being specific, Warner then responded by telling the Sports Minister: “You must never lie to this nation, the nation's memory is not short.”
Boynes also claimed the budget addresses the Peru game.
Warner, however, insisted that “not a nickel” was given but conceded that the rental for the Hasely Crawford Stadium was waivered.
The topic eventually shifted to World Cup tickets, with Warner revealing that Boynes had requested 900 World Cup tickets, but only 150 were given with a further 50 granted at a later date.
Boynes said the tickets were for “Ministries” which loosely translated to Government officials and their relatives. Warner insisted that Boynes has never paid for the tickets, and the Sports Minister said the World Cup match tickets were Category 4 (the TTFF received Category 2 tickets for sale to local fans) and as such, the Government was not interested.
“To cut a long story short, I paid for the tickets for him (Boynes),” Warner added.
Interestingly, Warner also disclosed that Prime Minister Patrick Manning interceded on behalf of the Government by calling FIFA's Zurich office to request 500 tickets, and FIFA officials had a good laugh about the PM's breach of protocol.
Boynes admitted that this was done because many people could not afford to pay for the World Cup packages that were on offer, and they were only interested in purchasing tickets for the matches involving the Soca Warriors.
Efforts to confirm whether Manning did call FIFA to request World Cup tickets from President Sepp Blatter on behalf of the government proved futile, as calls to his Whitehall office went unanswered.
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