Obama’s discussions with Warner, FIFA’s longest serving vice president, came via telephone soon after Warner met with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Zurich, Switzerland at the Baur au Lac Hotel, not too far from FIFA’s headquarters where voting will take place tomorrow.
Warner, the Works and Transport Minister in the People’s Partnership Government, holds the power of three crucial CONCACAF votes which would determine the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Talks with Obama came as a major boost for the US, CONCACAF football giants, as Warner had already held audiences with former US president Bill Clinton. He also met with Obama in the US on July 27, 2009. Concerning the US bid, the 67-year-old Warner stated publicly that CONCACAF had already committed itself to support the Americans. “The CONCACAF family remains committed behind its own,” Warner said.
The US is in a toss-up with Japan, Australia, Qatar and South Korea for the 2022 World Cup while England is facing stiff competition for the right to stage the 2018 tournament by Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Russia.
The US hosted the World Cup back in 1994 when their team was booted out in the round of 16 by the eventual winners Brazil. Should the US be given the chance to host the 2022 World Cup there would be a lot more to gain with their team making regular appearances at the quarter-final rounds of subsequent World Cups and their economy in dire need of a boost.
Warner, who is also a long serving president of CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), described talks with Obama as enlightening and added the US President not only understood the power of sport but also the global appeal for football. (See Page 46A)
Obama later commended CONCACAF and all it achieved under the leadership of Warner and stated his country is ready to host the 2022 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Warner expressed his pleasure with the England bid in an earlier release but noted the final outcome would depend on which country could convince the FIFA executive committee the most tomorrow.
Warner met with Prince William over the past three days before his talks in Zurich with Cameron yesterday. According to a statement, Warner and Cameron spoke on a number of issues, among which was the changing global political climate, apart from the 2018 World Cup. Afterwards both men exchanged phone numbers.After the meeting, Warner, who is also Special Adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), said Cameron reiterated his government’s commitment to the World Cup.
He described England’s bid as a legacy programme and said a World Cup was not a one-off event but an investment in a country and its people.
According to Warner, Cameron reaffirmed his country’s support to developing football nations, a job England has done by assisting not only CONCACAF but regional federations in the past through the English Football Association. (FA)