John Oliver’s message to Jack Warner leaves country grappling with notoriety

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-15 22:23:01

The small nation of Trinidad and ­Tobago found itself in the news last week but not exactly in the most favorable circumstances. Thanks to British comedian John ­Oliver buying airtime on Trinidadian TV to lambast former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, people around the world became aware of the little country.

While Oliver's rendition of the local dialect may have been horrendously and amusingly off the mark, the video left a sour taste in the mouths of some Trinidadians and provoked an argument over whether it or Warner's notoriety was the main reason to be upset.

As a longtime resident of the country, this writer found the whole controversy bemusing. Embarrassment was ­certainly to be had, but the blame is on Warner, who through his shady dealings, both local and international, and blatant outbursts has brought more than enough shame onto himself. Even more striking is his exaggerated outrage that has seen him resort to racist and anti-American remarks. He is currently out on bail after being named in the recent indictment against FIFA officials for corruption and racketeering by the US.

For all his alleged mischief, Warner had an impressive rise from a schoolteacher to a longtime vice president of FIFA, where he was chummy with the likes of its infamous head Sepp Blatter.

Even then, Warner had to step down from his post in 2011 after being implicated in giving bribes to back a Blatter opponent. In Trinidad, despite his notoriety, he got elected to parliament and even served as acting prime ­minister.

Sadly, Oliver's message to ­Warner was not enough to silence the ­Trinidadian. Warner retorted with a local TV ­message to the tune of an overly dramatic soundtrack, decrying a foreigner "embarrassing" our people. "I don't need any ­advice from any comedic fool … to tell me [what to do]," said Warner.

What is unfortunate is that Trinidad has become synonymous with Warner in the eyes of many people.

When it comes to soccer, the country has far more to offer than Warner such as past Premier League players like Kenwyne Jones, Dwight Yorke and Shaka Hislop. Trinidad also holds the distinction of being the smallest country to ever qualify and play in the World Cup, with its population of 1.2 million barely enough to fill a small Chinese city.

Trinidadians can wince in embarrassment but at least they can hope Warner can face justice soon in a US court.

The author is a Beijing-based writer.

Posted in: Soccer, Extra Time

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