By Paul Nicholson
April 26 – Five days after CONCACAF filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, claiming $20 million in damages against former executives Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer, Warner has responded by saying he will file a suit against CONCACAF for $40 million claiming “persistent defamation” of character. He also says he is suing US Soccer Federation president and FIFA Council member Sunil Gulati personally.
On his official Facebook page Warner says he has “instructed my attorney-at-law Keith Scotland, to file a lawsuit against the CONCACAF and its de facto American President, Sunil Gulati, in his personal capacity, in the sum of $40 million for the persistent defamation of my character.”
CONCACAF’s suit was filed against its former president Warner and former general secretary Blazer claiming it was “victimised” by them and accusing them of making a fortune through embezzlement related to negotiating bribes and kickbacks for broadcast rights for tournaments including the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The charges mirror those of the US Justice Department and its investigation into corruption in football in the region. Blazer has pleaded guilty to those charges and is the chief witness for the prosecution, while Warner has been indicted but is fighting extradition from Trinidad.
Warner’s response widens the usual circle of characters in this case to publicly include Gulati who has not appeared in any official or court documentation to date. Gulati is not president of CONCACAF but is in his final term as president of the US Soccer Federation. The US federation is expected to pass proposed term limits at its next congress.
Publicly Gulati has kept a low profile regarding the US Department of Justice case, refusing to speak to the press in any detail about the case. The allegations that Warner has made presumably refer to private conversations that have been reported to him.
Gulati was a key member of the emergency committee – with Canada’s Victor Montagliani and Mexico’s Justino Compean – that resuscitated CONCACAF after the US indictments that rocked the world of football were issued in May 2015. Gulati was a driving force behind the reform and the re-organisation of the confederation which saved itself financially through a swiftly re-invented and remarkably successful 2015 Gold Cup, following that up with the successful hosting of the Copa América Centenario which saw the south American nations and CONCACAF federations compete for the trophy for the first time in the US.
Warner says in his Facebook post: “The allegations made against me by present day CONCACAF and Gulati have been repetitive and ancient and if a US lawsuit does really exist (since I have not been served anything as yet) it will be defended by my Trinidad attorneys who have already contacted my US attorneys in the matter.”
In its filing CONCACAF says: “There can be no doubt that Warner and Blazer victimized CONCACAF, stealing and defrauding it out of tens of millions of dollars in brazen acts of corruption for their own personal benefit at the expense of the entire CONCACAF region.”
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