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British PM invites Warner to lunch in Zurich

By Darcel Choy Thursday, November 18 2010

click on pic to zoom in
British Prime Minister David Cameron...
British Prime Minister David Cameron...

While on a tour of a site in Maraval, Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner’s cellphone rang.

“Yes, Prime Minister,” he answered, when his media adviser Francis Joseph handed him the phone. Reporters and officials in Warner’s presence thought Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar was on the line. It was not her however, but British Prime Minister David Cameron who invited Warner to a two-hour lunch in Zurich, Switzerland next Thursday.

Cameron wants to discuss England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup with Warner, who is a long-serving FIFA vicepresident. Warner has accepted Cameron’s invitation.

Warner seemed surprised when he took the call just as he was touring a non-functioning sewer plant in Moka, Maraval yesterday.

He was overheard saying, “Yes Prime Minister,” several times which made members of the media wonder whether it was Persad-Bissessar on the phone until Joseph said it was Cameron.

When asked about the conversation, Warner said Cameron told him he wanted to visit Trinidad and Tobago to meet with him and Persad-Bissessar last week but couldn’t because of the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea.

“He called to ask me for my support for the English bid and he asked me to join him for lunch next week Thursday and he hoped (David) Beckham was a good ambassador and said that if there was anything he can do for Trinidad and Tobago he will be prepared to do so,” Warner said.

Beckham, the former captain of the England national team and international football superstar, visited Trinidad on September 27 under the auspices of the David Beckham Academy as part of England’s World Cup bid process. He was scheduled to visit Tobago but did not although his academy held a session at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet.

Warner recalled when former South African President Nelson Mandela visited this country on April 29, 2004 in an attempt to solicit support for South Africa to host the World Cup which it did in July this year.

Warner added that he has not made up his mind which country he would support but told Cameron that England’s strongest contender was Russia.

“If he can overcome the Russian bid, which I think is gaining momentum, he doesn’t have a problem. I don’t think he has to worry about the other countries too much,” he said.

Cameron is meeting with FIFA in Zurich tomorrow but Warner told him he could not make it as he wants to be here for the debate on the Interception Communications Bill in Parliament.

“I feel it is too critical a bill to miss, I must talk to (Patrick) Manning,” Warner said, adding he will attend a FIFA meeting next Friday, the day after he meets Cameron.

In a press statement, CONCACAF, of which Warner is president, said the FIFA executive will meet on December 2 in Zurich to decide which countries will be granted the rights to host 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.

It noted that Warner said he had the utmost respect for the British Prime Minister and the England bid team.

Warner said he wished Cameron and his team all the best and he was certain on December 2, they will present a compelling argument before the FIFA Executive Committee.

Following the conversation, the Office of the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, London sent Warner an official correspondence stating that Cameron as well as Prince William will both be in Zurich on December 2 in support of England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Prince William, whose engagement to Kate Middleton on Tuesday made headlines around the world, is president of the England Football Association and the England 2018 team has high hopes that his support will further cement their chances to win the rights to host the 2018 World Cup.

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