Ex-CONCACAF chief Jack Warner after U.S. loss: 'I wanted to party'
Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner has called Trinidad and Tobago's historic defeat of the United States in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday the happiest day of his life, while adding that "nobody in CONCACAF likes the U.S."
Last-placed T&T extinguished the U.S.'s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia with an improbable 2-1 upset in Port of Spain. The defeat marked the first time since 1986 the Americans will not participate in sport's biggest showpiece.
And T&T native Warner, whose side were kept out of the 1990 World Cup in similar fashion by the U.S., told a local radio station he couldn't be happier with the result.
"I have not been in better spirits. This is the happiest day of my life," Warner said. "It [the win] couldn't have given me greater joy."
Warner, a former FIFA Vice President, was a main target of the U.S. Department of Justice's wide-ranging sting aimed at cracking down on corruption in the sport, and faces charges stemming from his alleged involvement.
And the 74-year-old, who blames the U.S. for turning CONCACAF into a "nightmare," said T&T's win was a striking blow to the Americans.
"They have used their government to help to dismember FIFA in a way that is unimaginable. And last night on the field of play Trinidad and Tobago reduced them to their knees," he said.
Warner, who was in a festive mood, said the national team's triumph was personal for him.
"And for me personally, it has reduced the U.S. to a laughing stock. Last Sept. 27 when the judge ruled against Jack Warner there was a party in the U.S., they were quite happy," said Warner, who is currently fighting extradition to the U.S.
"Knowing that this has happened I wanted to go out and party as they partied last September when a judge ruled against me. I wanted to party. This was my personal feeling".
And he predicted this was the start of the end of U.S. soccer as we know it.
"They will continue to undermine [the World Cup in] Qatar for 2022, but they will not succeed. As far as I am concerned this is the beginning of the end for U.S. football," he said. "Nobody in CONCACAF likes the U.S."
Meanwhile, T&T assistant coach Stern John admitted his team was angered and inspired by the United States' behavior in the build-up to the shocking result.
John, a former Major League Soccer and Premier League forward, mocked the U.S.'s complaints about the waterlogged field at Ato Boldon Stadium a day before the loss.
"There was a lot of fire in our eyes," John told USA TODAY Sports. "I think it was disrespectful of them."
On Monday, the visitors turned up for practice and were disturbed to find the track surrounding the field under water and the playing surface itself drenched with rainwater. Many of the players had already taped their feet and put on their cleats, and were carried across the water by team staff to avoid getting their feet soaked.
The furor instantly made its way onto social media, U.S. head coach Bruce Arena made no secret of the fact he was not impressed with the conditions, and T&T -- said John -- was not impressed by the way the matter turned into a major incident.
"I think they were a bit overconfident and a bit disrespectful because they came in yesterday and rain fell on the pitch and they were giving each other piggybacks [over the water] and all kind of stuff," John added.
"Rain fell, it is not our fault. They made a big scene out of it and it was international news all over the world. It was all over the media. Our families [told us about it]. Most of our guys are on social media so they see it. They see the USA guys getting piggybacked to the field -- it is embarrassing."
T&T had previously lost six straight games and had gained only three points during the final phase of the road to Russia, but played inspired soccer to hand the U.S. a devastating loss that can only serve to dampen the game's growing momentum in the country.
For the home side is was a measure of revenge for the 1990 World Cup.
"[Revenge] was in the back of the head but I don't think that was the main goal," midfielder Leston Paul said. "The main focus was just on us.
"I think the [U.S.] was a little bit complacent because it is Trinidad and Tobago and we were already out. Football is a funny game. They learned their lesson today."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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