By Nick Harris
7 December 2010
As the Fifa vice-president Jack Warner claims that the world governing body could not have voted for England’s 2018 World Cup bid because of the English media, sportingintelligence publishes an extract from a secret Fifa document (scan at bottom of page) that shows some of his own colleagues believed he should have been booted out of Fifa years ago for a conflict of interest over his serial ticket touting.
Warner, 67, a former teacher, rose to football prominence and a lavish Fifa-funded lifestyle via his local, national and then regional football associations to become the vice-president of Concacaf in 1983, and president in 1990; he has been a Fifa VP since 1993.
He has routinely courted controversy, including for his involvement in ticket touting, his failure to pay bonuses to Trinidad & Tobago players, and asking for a match fee for a friendly to be paid into his personal account, among other things.
Today, trying to explain how he came to promise Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham that he would vote for England’s 2018 bid but then betrayed them, he said: “Suffice it to say that the FIFA ExCo as a body could not have voted for England having been insulted by their media in the worst possible way at the same time. To do so would have been the ultimate insult [to FIFA].”
(Warner was displeased that some media, including the Sunday Times and Panorama, had reported that some Fifa officials are corrupt).
Why Warner remains a member of the Fifa ExCo is a mystery given his history; the most plausible explanation being that he has been protected by allies within the organisation.
Certainly in 2006 there seemed to be a sound case for kicking Warner out of Fifa – and that was according to Fifa’s own ethics committee, which at the time included figures as senior as the current ExCo members Mohamed Bin Hammam (Qatar) and Senes Erzik (Turkey).
Among the other men on the ethics committee at the time were Dominique Rocheteau (former French striker, now French FA ethics official), Juan Damiani (a Uruguayan official), Les Murray (from Australia, still on the committee) and Burton Haimes (from the USA).
The committee was sitting in judgement of Warner because of his persistent involvement in 2006 World Cup ticket touting.
Warner had been accused of taking tranches of World Cup tickets destined for the Caribbean market and selling them off at massive profits via his family-owned travel business, Simpaul.
Warner claimed he didn’t know this was against any rules and didn’t see any conflict of interest; and argued that Simpaul had been doing this for 19 years – longer than the ethics committee had existed.
The secret hearing of the ethics committee – where Warner stood accused of multiple breaches of Fifa’s ethics code – resulted in a seven-page document of minutes, detailing the views expressed about Warner and his conduct. The key page is reproduced in full below as a scan.
Some of the conclusions
BIN HAMMAM: ‘What was unethical about the matter was that the company belonged to Mr Warner. As a Fifa vice-president, he [Warner] should not be selling tickets for the World Cup.’
ROCHETEAU: ‘Though Warner had been involved in football for 20 years he had to abide by the rules.’
ERZIK: ‘Very surprised that Simpaul was still selling tickets.’
DAMIANI: ‘In no doubt that there was a conflict of interests between Mr Warner’s company and his official position … irrelevant whether the Code of Ethics was now in force or not … did not believe Mr Warner had acted properly in the last 19 years.’
MURRAY: ‘A very simple and clear cut case and a serious matter. It was the committee’s duty to protect Fifa’s reputation.’
The verdict? The committee were unanimous that Jack A Warner was “in a conflict of interests and the Code of Ethics [three separate articles] has been violated as a result.”
One of the breaches, Article 3, paragraph 2, concerned declaration of interests that may interfere with duties, an article deemed serious enough to dictate “eligibility for and removal from office”.
Except Warner wasn’t removed from office.
The ethics committee passed the matter to the ExCo – inhabited by Jack Warner and friends – and he was secretly asked to pay $1m to charity, most of which still hasn’t been paid today.
That nugget (the fine) was one snippet in the recent Panorama show that annoyed Warner so much.
No wonder Warner couldn’t, in all conscience, vote for a bid from a country where the media occasionally highlight the corrupt profiteering of its leading officials.
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