By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (January 31st 2021)
FIFA (the Federation of International Football Associations) became a byword for corruption until the FIFAGate Scandal brought the Ancien Régime of football crashing down. Bizarrely, for a billion-dollar industry FIFA that organisation was established as a not for profit but came to symbolise graft.
You’ll be forgiven for an incredulous double-take on FIFA being a not for profit, as there was no shortage of corruption long before it was exposed, so why had it taken so long? It was well known that the former President of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Jack Warner, was embroiled in the FIFAGate scandal.
For many years he worked closely with the now utterly disgraced American administrator, Chuck Blazer. The American lived large and that attracted attention of the IRS (US taxation department). Blazer was investigated and his corrupt world came crashing down. Imprisonment was likely, so Blazer cut deals. His cooperation with US law enforcement meant throwing his partners under the bus.
Meanwhile, Warner’s troubles multiplied. Accusations of corruption pursued him along with controversies. In 2008 England agreed to visit Trinidad and Tobago. Over a decade later the footballing reason for this match has yet to be established – the political was obvious.
Warner’s support for England’s 2018 World Cup bid was sought. It would later emerge there was a quid pro quo that FIFA used against the English FA’s accusations against it. Warner got what he wanted – England did not. In fact, the FA’s accusations were tainted by their courting of Warner. Then FA President, Lord Triesman, and Premier League Secretary Sir Dave Richards, accused Warner of wanting cash for votes in the form of an education centre in Trinidad and Tobago to be funded by the English.
Warner allegedly supported England’s bid but the votes did not materialise. Hence the accusations that followed but Warner’s reputation preceded him.
Tickets provided to him by FIFA for the 2006 were sold on the black market. Warner and his family profited but an order for his family to repay $1m resulted in a quarter of that amount being paid. FIFA’s reminders did not bear fruit. Warner has asked for money due to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation for matches to be paid directly to him.
Bonuses due to Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup Squad of 2006 were not paid – the players were wrongly accused of greed. He was also accused of requesting $1.6m from the English to buy non-existent broadcasting rights for Haiti to the 2018 World Cup in return for votes.
In 2011 Warner lost his position as President of CONCACAF. He was succeeded by Jeffrey Webb, who proved to be corrupt. Warner entered politics in 2007 and became Minister of National Security after resigning from all football positions in 2011 pending a FIFA corruption probe. In April 2013 CONCACAF declared that Warner had committed fraud against it and FIFA.
Two years later Warner a FIFA’s woes multiplied – FIFAGate. It became clear, if there had been doubt, that FIFA had become a serious rival to King Augeus’ famed stables. 1