sport

Warner facing legal action

The former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has insisted he will fight legal action challenging his ownership of a luxurious centre of excellence in Trinidad built via FIFA money.

The Joao Havelange centre was constructed through grants totalling as much as 15.5million from FIFA and the north American governing body CONCACAF, but it emerged two years ago that Warner was the owner of the land on which it was built.

CONCACAF has now filed a legal action in Trinidad, known as a caveat, which seeks to block Warner from mortgaging, leasing or selling the centre.

Warner, who resigned from FIFA in 2011 after becoming embroiled in a bribery scandal, said he had no intention of selling the centre.

Warner said: "I wish to state categorically that the Centre of Excellence is not for sale.

"Let me also state that CONCACAF does not have any equitable interest in the Centre of Excellence and has no claims to ownership.

"If CONCACAF indeed has filed a caveat against me all I can say is that both CONCACAF and FIFA have unlimited funding and they can spend their money as they wish if they want to do that."

Warner, an MP and former Cabinet minister in Trinidad who last year formed a new political party, said the action was part of a political vendetta against him by the Caribbean island's attorney general.

CONCACAF has said it provided 11million towards funding the centre which includes a swimming complex and fitness centre, a garden sanctuary, a 44-room hotel, a theatre seating 800 people and a banqueting and reception hall. The 6,000-seat Marvin Lee Stadium, which has artificial turf, is also part of the centre.

Last year, Warner claimed he was personally given the money to build the centre of excellence in return for helping Sepp Blatter's election as FIFA president in 1998.

Warner has produced letters from Havelange, Blatter's predecessor, apparently showing the 4million FIFA loan for the centre, built on land owned by Warner, had been converted into a grant.

In return Warner says he delivered the 30 votes needed for Blatter - at the time "the most hated FIFA official" in Warner's words - to beat Lennart Johansson for the FIFA presidency in 1998 and named the centre after Havelange.