Fifa, the Klan and Dominica

Investigative journalist Andrew Jennings continues to shed an awkward light on CONCACAF boss Jack Warner. His story this week in the Sunday Herald about the man Warner wants to run football in the Caribbean island of Dominica beggars belief. Here’s an extract:

Security will be on maximum alert at Zurich airport when a bizarre delegation descends for talks with Fifa bosses this month. The Federal police will assiduously search the baggage of former jailbird Patrick John, the man Jack Warner remains determined to impose on football in the Caribbean island of Dominica and check the criminal records of his entourage – just in case.

Last time John attempted a coup in Dominica he enlisted some odd allies. He’d been ousted from the prime minister’s residence in 1979, branded “corrupt and tyrannical” and accused by the BBC of secretly planning to bust oil sanctions on South Africa.

Look up John in America’s news archives and what do you find clustered around his name? Mentions of brothels, drug-runners, arms dealers, white supremacists – and the gallows.

FBI agents told a court in New Orleans in 1981 that the heavily-armed Ku Klux Klansmen clutching an authentic Nazi swastika flag that they’d arrested on a marina were about to sail for Dominica to oust the recently-elected government and restore John to power.

Money for the jaunt was provided by “Chuckles” Yanover, a Mob enforcer keen to set up a “free port” with unregulated gambling. Chuckles and his pals called their enterprise Operation Red Dog. Once they were trucked off to prison, the Louisiana Feds renamed it “Bayou of Pigs”.

Ex-premier John didn’t fare much better in Dominica. After an abortive coup left a policeman dead, he was jailed for 12 years. The judge said John was prepared to sell Dominica to foreigners “to satisfy his lust for power”. The army chief who backed him was hanged.

In 1990 John was released. Two years later he took over local football and his climb back to power was paralleled by Warner’s rise in Caribbean football politics. After John was ousted from Dominican football in 2006, Warner elevated his ally to football’s regional Hall of Fame.

His replacement, Dexter Francis, “was elected leader after convincing the island’s stakeholders of the allegedly shoddy performances and poor accountability under John” according to the Trinidad Express.

Jennings goes on to explain how Warner’s loyalists, including John, disrupted the Dominican football association’s president Dexter Francis from running the association. Warner then ousted Francis in a unilateral move blocked by FIFA initially thanks to FIFA’s Vice-President, England’s Geoff Thompson on the Associations Committee.

But now FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke seems likely to impose John’s involvement on the Dominican association at their meeting next month. And with Warner this week warming to England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup after his previously trenchant opposition a cook-up seems likely, sadly for Dominica.

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