‘Don’t let me embarrass you nah’
By Cecily Asson and Jonathan Ramnanansingh (T&T Newsday)
A GERMAN reporter and his cameraman who trailed and questioned former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner yesterday, in an attempt to get him to speak about the world football governing body which has been mired in corruption allegations, was brushed off by Warner yesterday at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation.
Warner was at the corporation as a guest speaker at an International Women’s Day function on the topic “Empower Rural Women; End Hunger and Poverty”. He was supposed to speak at 11 am.
German reporter Markus Harm and his cameraman Jan Soelter — both of German media ZDF TV — arrived at the corporation and asked local reporters if Warner had already arrived. Harm told Newsday he and his cameraman were in TT specifically to speak to Warner on FIFA issues.
Harm and his cameraman mingled with local reporters and joined them as they met Warner for a brief interview. On seeing the two foreign journalists, Warner’s Personal Assistant/Adviser Francis Joseph — himself a former veteran journalist — stated emphatically, “We are making it quite clear that we want no questions about FIFA.”
Harm was the first out of the journalists to ask Warner a question. “Mr Warner, what do you say about the TTFF and their intention to sue you?” Looking a bit perturbed, Warner replied: “I just tell you son and I don’t want to insult you because of your country. I’m not answering those questions and this is not the purpose of this meeting, alright! Don’t let me embarrass you please nah.”
Even as Harm did not ask anymore questions, his cameraman Soelter continued recording Warner who spoke to local reporters about the need to empower women, especially single mothers.
An upset Harm later told Newsday: “We are here to do an interview with Warner and we’re from a German television. We want to find out about the TTFF and the case of 13 players (2006 World Cup players still being owed money) and also the Haiti issue and the FIFA scandal. We are here to speak to him and he doesn’t talk...he doesn’t talk. Nobody talks.
“It’s always the same...he (Warner) never talks to foreign journalists. He only talks about local stuff, which is very important for Trinidad obviously. But he never says anything about FIFA and about the scandals. He never says anything about (FIFA president) Sepp Blatter, nothing.
“This shows the people in Europe that he does not want to talk. People in Europe want to know, for example, what happened in FIFA and why Blatter gave him TV rights for just one dollar.
“He never said anything about that,” Harm said.