Something rotten in the football state of Antigua

09.11.2005

By Play the Game
What is the harvest like when a country with a 77-year-old membership of FIFA suddenly finds itself, as Antigua did in June 2003, shown the red card so its corrupt top-tier officials could not be got rid of electorally?

Journalist Ian Magic Hughes from Antigua ensured at Play the Game's FIFA night that a considerable quantity of eggs smashed into the faces of football's dubious high priests.

He spoke, often humorously, of two CONCACAF officials, Trinidadian Jack Warner and Antiguan Paul 'Chet' Greene, who simply had much more than a fist in the till, resulting in most of FIFA's cash grants never being used for the purpose they were meant for.

FIFA vice-president Warner's trump card was his control of the 35 CONCACAF votes, which Sepp Blatter had found handy. Greene was his flamboyant minion endowed with just the sort of fair-is-foul-and-foul-is-fair cynicism that underpinned the gobbling up of 400,000 US dollars FIFA had given Antigua for the construction of its football headquarters.

The world body, deaf to the Antiguan football fraternity's oft-voiced appeals for an audit of its football federation's finances, then summoned the most astonishing response to the dirty scandal by letting go of a second instalment.

Hughes' slides showed Blatter waxing eloquent about the great work of the Antiguan duo - and the bare patch of green where the headquarters had yet to come up. And that was not all.

Greene, said Hughes, was scooping up uncountable US dollars selling World Cup tickets with FIFA looking indulgently on. It kicked into the touchline a proposal for a probe, and Hughes was dismissal from employment, the surest indication, if one was needed yet, that Antiguan football had passed into the hands of an organised crime syndicate.

And when spontaneous public protests coupled with pressure within the national federation built up to such a pitch where the questionable pair began increasingly to find things beyond their control, FIFA stepped forth to intervene. FIFA was unable to get its way by sending along an emissary with quite a reputation for adding gratuitous knots to an already tangled situation, and then simply cracked down with its ban so an unprincipled coterie could be safeguarded at the expense of the game.

Antigua, sure enough, is in the wilderness but where, pray, is the football FIFA is the purported custodian of?

 

Journalist Ian "Magic" Hughes from Antigua lost his job for uncovering FIFA wrongdoings in his home country.

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