Trinidad and Tobago's National Security Minister Jack Warner talks with journalists after a meeting with residents in Port of Spain

Jack Warner resigns as national security minister of Trinidad & Tobago following fraud report

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Three days after a CONCACAF ethics panel accused Jack Warner of enriching himself through fraud, the former CONCACAF president and FIFA executive committee member resigned from his position as national security minister of Trinidad & Tobago.

Warner tendered his resignation to T&T Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Sunday night merely 11 months after she raised eyebrows by naming Warner to the position. Warner’s resignation followed CONCACAF’s release of a 113 page report into allegations of financial mismanagement by Warner and ex-general secretary Chuck Blazer.

In the report committee member David Simmons accused Warner of misappropriating at least $15 million by compensating himself with CONCACAF funds without authorization after his last contract expired in July 1998. Simmons’ investigation also found that Warner did not disclose to CONCACAF or FIFA that a $25.9 million Center of Excellence, which is no longer as asset of CONCACAF, was built on land owned by his companies. Among other complaints Warner was also accused of mismanaging nearly $1 million in FIFA funds slated for a reconstruction project in Haiti.

Warner is no stranger to allegations of fraud and controversy. In June 2011 he resigned as CONCACAF president after he was accused of attempting to bribe Caribbean delegates $40,000 each to vote for then-Asian confederation head Mohamed bin Hammam in the election for president of FIFA. Those allegations compelled Warner to give up his powerful position on FIFA’s executive committee. By walking away Warner avoided having to face a FIFA Ethics Commission inquiry.

Given Warner’s checkered past many people were surprised when Persad-Bissessar appointed the ex-soccer powerbroker as security minister of T&T. Shortly after the appointment Warner was sharply criticized for dispatching troops and riot police to remove a protest camp built by environmentalists. He also made headlines by announcing his intent to stop the release of crime reports and statistics, arguing that publicizing such information only encouraged more crime.

For Trinidadians, Warner’s resignation was a long time coming. “The ceaseless allegations have been going on too long,” said Winford James, a political analyst and newspaper columnist. “They have affected the public psyche, which has been under siege. It will hurt the government – the PM took too long – but will win some friends for her that some action has been taken.”

The report previously prompted Blazer to stand down from his position as an executive committee member of FIFA after detailing that the American received more than $20 million in compensation from CONCACAF, including $17 million in commission. An election held last Friday confirmed that Sunil Gulati, the current president of the United States Soccer Federation, would be replacing Blazer. Gulati won the vote 18-17, defeating runner-up FMF President Justino Compean, of Mexico. Gulati will formerly replace Blazer on May 30, 2013.

With the removal of Warner from his position of power within Trinidad & Tobago and Blazer from FIFA one hopes the region can begin to march forward in a positive manner, both politically and athletically. By reducing the corruption within CONCACAF and FIFA, relations should begin to improve with FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has made clear his dissent of soccer in the region.

Mourinho: Leicester home should be Claudio Ranieri Stadium

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City shows his frustration as Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho cannot quite get his head around Leicester City’s firing of Claudio Ranieri.

The story is on the tips of the tongues of many in the Premier League, and Manchester United’s boss is no exception.

[ MORE: UEL draw | Who is Rostov? ]

Speaking Friday ahead of United’s EFL Cup Final against Southampton, here’s what Mourinho had to say.

From the BBC:

“He deserves the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri Stadium’. The most beautiful thing in the Premier League and one of most beautiful in football history.

“Now Leicester are in the highlights again with a decision that has everyone in football united. It’s very difficult to accept. It’s important to realize how football is and we need to react. I was sacked as a champion [by Chelsea], a giant negative as I thought – peanuts compared to Claudio.

“I don’t think he needs more. Nobody can do what he did. If some of the stories have just a little bit of truth, it is difficult to find words to justify but we have to be able to cope.”

Mourinho is giving voice to what many feel, this writer included. Ranieri is in a relegation fight, yes, but to fire him days after the Foxes stole a road goal against Sevilla that gives them reasonable odds to advance in the UEFA Champions League? It’s an odd one, and smacks a bit of, “Well, we can’t fire him if he beats Liverpool or Sevilla”.

Liverpool visits the King Power Stadium this weekend, and the Foxes will need an incredible response at home to topple the rested Reds. Sure the Premier League is win now, but add me to the chorus who thinks the new manager will have the same odds to fix Leicester as Ranieri.

Roma’s American president losing patience over stadium delay

James Pallotta, AS Roma
AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
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ROME (AP) Roma’s American president is starting to lose patience with city officials over long-delayed plans for a new stadium.

Ahead of a meeting between municipal authorities and club officials Friday, James Pallotta issued a statement saying the team expects “a massively positive result” from the encounter.

Pallotta adds “the alternative would be catastrophic for the future of AS Roma, Italian football, the city of Rome, and quite frankly for future business in Italy.”

[ MORE: PST feature on Pallotta ]

The mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project received another setback this week when cultural authorities announced plans to declare the proposed stadium site – an abandoned hippodrome – as a site of “particularly important interest.”

The project in Tor di Valle, halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, also includes three office towers.

Who is Manchester United’s UEL opponent Rostov?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 15: Jano Ananidze (L) of FC Spartak Moscow is challenged by Alexandru Gatcan of FC Rostov during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow v FC Rostov at Otkrytie Arena Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have learned their fate for the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The Red Devils face Russian side FC Rostov in the next round of the tournament, four victorious ties from claiming an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Spurs sent packing | Full UEL draw ]

So who is Rostov? Seventh in the Russian Premier League standings, Selmashi finished second last season and won the league in 1994 and 2008.

Rostov entered the Europa League after a run through the Champions League which saw the club knock out Anderlecht and Ajax, both still alive in the UEL, before finishing third behind Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the group stage. Rostov beat Sparta Prague in the Round of 32 of the UEL.

The club is led by former Moldova boss Ivan Daniliants. Its leading scorer is left wing Dmitri Poloz with 11 goals, and Ecuadorian national teamer Christian Noboa and Moldova veteran Alexandru Gațcan among its mainstays.

While some will make the case that a rough pitch, long trip, and stingy team makes this draw a bad one for United, Mourinho’s crew should triumph. How worse could it have been? This one won’t be easy, but consider Roma, Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach… even a reunion with Memphis Depay and Lyon would bring more of a challenge than Rostov.

Europa League draw: Man Utd learns fate

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, center back to camera, celebrates scoring the opening goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2nd right, and other teammates during a Europa League round of 32 second leg soccer match between Saint Etienne and Manchester United at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne, France, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
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The travel is tricky, but Manchester United’s draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 could’ve been much worse.

The Red Devils are off to Russia to face FC Rostov in the next round of the UEL competition.

[ MORE: Spurs out | Who is Rostov? ]

In another draw that leads you to question whether there’s anything random about it all, United and lone La Liga representative Celta Vigo drew winnable matches against Russian clubs, Roma has a tantalizing match against Lyon, and an all-Bundesliga match hits the docket.

Heck, we’ll even see an all-Belgian tie between Gent vs. Genk.

And in a draw which will have many glued to their sets, USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson will help Borussia Monchengladbach against German rivals Schalke. The first leg comes five days after the pair face off in Bundesliga play.

The Round of 16 legs will be played March 9 and 16.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar
Copenhagen vs. Ajax
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas
Lyon vs. Roma
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht
Gent vs. Genk