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    CONCACAF

    Embattled CONCACAF chief Warner faces new charges in T&T.

    (Thursday, February 23) -- CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Jack Warner is facing charges of corruption being leveled by the government of Trinidad & Tobago, according to a report today by the Associated Press.

    According to the AP story, Trinidad housing minister Keith Rowley says Warner used political connections with the former ruling party, the United National Congress, to gain contracts to build four soccer stadiums, and renovate another, for $58.3 million in 1999. This is an amount, it is charged, that is more than double the original cost projection. The original budget for the project, completed in time for Trinidad to host FIFA's Under-17 World Championship in 2001, was $26.4 million.

    "Contracts were awarded in a very strange manner," Rowley said at a Tuesday news conference.

    Rowley said the original plan called for the project to be funded by the Republic Bank (Fincor) and given to FIFA and a group of investors. Instead, they were allegedly improperly awarded to Warner. "The project was being done by another group of financiers," Rowley told AP. "Fincor was nowhere to be seen."

    Warner said the accusations were politically motivated, directed at him by the ruling People National Movement party. "Why did he wait four years to make his announcement?" Warner asked in a statement given to the Trinidad Daily Express newspaper.

    FIFA, the world governing body, is already investigating Warner, a special adviser to the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation, for alleged ethics violations regarding ticket sales for this summer's World Cup in Germany. The only company selling tickets in Trinidad & Tobago is Simpaul Travel Service, a company owned by Warner's family.

    Last week, the FIFA ethics committee said that it was Warner who brought the issue to its attention and that it posed a "conflict of interest." FIFA's executive committee meets March 16-17 to consider possible action against Warner.

    Trinidad & Tobago is a member of CONCACAF, the federation, run by Warner, that includes nations from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

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