Blatter described Warner’s re-election to Parliament as “a historic and defining moment in Trinidad and Tobago’s politics,” noting that Warner was able to obtain more than 18,000 votes, the highest number of votes obtained by any candidate in the election.

In making these comments at a recent meeting of Concacaf delegates in South Africa, Blatter also congratulated Persad-Bissessar on her election as Prime Minister and Anil Roberts on his appointment as Sports Minister.

The FIFA president’s congratulations to Persad-Bissessar and Roberts included an invitation to them to attend the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa. The tournament kicks off on Friday with the host nation’s Bafana Bafana team facing-off against Concacaf football powerhouse Mexico in Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium.

Warner is also Concacaf president and special adviser to the TT Football Federation.

Blatter’s congratulations and invitations came even as the Integrity Commission yesterday took steps to determine whether it was right for Warner to simultaneously hold the posts of Works and Transport Minister and FIFA vice-president.

The statement about Blatter’s remarks on Warner and the People’s Partnership Government were issued to the media by Warner’s communications adviser Hema Ramkissoon on a letter head that had a FIFA logo and Warner’s name and his position as vice-president.

In offering his congratulations to Warner, Blatter said, “On the occasion of your political victory, I would like to kindly extend my deepest congratulations as well as my best wishes of success. Your election victory is a vibrant testimony to your brilliant political career and represents the desire to assist the people of your beautiful country to strengthen the cultural and educational values within the society of TT further.

“I am certain that you will take this responsibility and that you will rise to the challenge to continue building a better future for TT. It gives me great pleasure to wish you all success for the challenges ahead. I know that you have been appointed Minister of Works and Transport. My friend Jack, you will continue to break any imaginable barrier this life has to offer.”

Blatter last visited Trinidad in September 2008, when the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation celebrated its 100th anniversary.

In 2004, Blatter was here for the visit of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who was invited to Trinidad by Warner.

Blatter first came to Trinidad in 1998, when he was FIFA vice president under Joao Havelange, the then FIFA vice-president and Warner was Concacaf president for the FIFA World Under-17 Championship. The FIFA boss may make another trip to this country this September, when Trinidad and Tobago hosts the FIFA World Under-17 Women’s Championship.

Warner, who is the longest serving FIFA vice-president, thanked Blatter but said his victory was not about him but about the accomplishment of the people of TT. Warner continued to insist that he can function as FIFA vice-president and Works Minister.

As he noted the challenges which the Government will face in the future and expressed confidence that it will succeed, Warner said despite his distance in South Africa, he has been liasing with his permanent secretary and his ministry officials on a daily basis to ensure projects initiated last week continue as planned. The statement said Warner will return home from South Africa on Sunday “to continue his ministerial duties.”

While Blatter said he awaited a response from Persad-Bissessar and Roberts about attending the World Cup Finals, neither the Prime Minister nor Roberts are likely to accept Blatter’s invitation until after the Parliament is convened on June 18.

On Monday, Persad-Bissessar said no government minister will proceed on foreign travel until after the Parliament is convened and they were sworn in as parliamentarians. Persad-Bissessar said Warner’s presence is due to his prior commitments as FIFA vice-president before last month’s general election.

Integrity Commission chairman Eric St Cyr yesterday confirmed receipt of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s letter in which Rowley is asking the commission to indicate whether it was appropriate for Warner to serve as Works and Transport Minister while retaining his post as FIFA vice-president. “The letter reached me just a half an hour ago and I have completed reading it,” St Cyr told Newsday.

He said the commission will take a thorough look at the issues raised by Rowley and will present its opinion in due course. “We are going to address it,” St Cyr stated. However St Cyr could not say how long that process would take or if it might involve requesting some information from Warner on the matters which Rowley spoke about in his letter.



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