27 August, 2010

Jack Warner Parties Like It's 2006

Back at the 2006 WC, Jack Warner and his family owned company of Simpaul resold tickets for the World Cup that were meant for fans, but instead made them only available in "executive" packages where they had to be purchased with room/travel (of course through Warner's travel agency). Now if that wasn't enough, Warner also then stiffed the T&T men's team on the promised bonus to its players by telling them to take ~$500 each instead of splitting the ~$20mil in proceeds that the federation earned from qualifying.

Warner was finally accused of selling 5000 tickets illegally and was given a reprimand and told to pay the money back. Simply enough, Warner changed his company's and T&T's Soccer Fed names so that they would not have to pay the money back. For this transgression, Warner was given a slap on the wrist. Conversely, two other Executive Committee members (of Fifa) resold approximately 12 tickets each and were stripped of their ExCo status.


It's because their vote didn't mean much to Blatter and his power base. See, Warner, over the years, got it so that even lowly little Netherland Antilles and Martinique and other Carib countries' votes for FIFA count just as much as big countries like Italy, Brazil and Spain. So what does that mean? Warner, as CONCACAF Pres, is in control of a heck of a lot of votes come election time. Not enough to go for FIFA President himself, although I wouldn't put it past him at some point, but enough to scare anyone from fully reprimanding him for his illegal activities according to FIFA bylaws.

Well now... you'd think that'd be all in the past and gone. Nope. Jack's pulled a Britney Spears and done it again (and thanks to the guys over at for the heads up on this with another great article by them). Apparently, in 2009, a well know Norwegian black market ticket agency approached Warner and asked him to procure SA WC 2010 tickets through the CFU (Caribbean Football Union).

That was great and all, especially with Warner's reported 60% kickback) but see, the WC wasn't the great sellout that FIFA keeps telling people. Go to FIFA's own site and look up the attendance of many of the matches for the WC. On average, only 80-85% of the seats filled. Some were as low as 60%, with obvious fills on the Opening game and Finals. FIFA claims it was transportation issues and people couldn't make it in time (as well as saying blocks of tickets were returned at the last minute after going unsold), but just like in the Confeds Cup last year, people couldn't get in because tickets were held and for the ones that were available, no one wanted to pay FIFA's exhorbinant fees. I mean, they had to open the gates and let people in for free at the Confeds after only 10-40% of tickets sold and for the WC, people were frequently interviewed that they tried to buy tickets but were refused at the games.

What is a black market ticket operator to do if the people don't want to go see the World Cup at the far end of the world? Stiff Warner on payment of course. What is he going to do? Report you?

Now, technically, he didn't, but someone is making some noise that he didn't get paid and if Jack doesn't get paid, then ain't no one going to be happy.

With the word getting out to the public/press that Warner got caught selling tickets illegally, and just months before FIFA's Presidential Election this December, what's it worth to Blatter? He is in a tight race with the bin Hammam and Jack is a lot of votes, but Jack is also a liability if bin Hammam wants to do a little whistle blowing on corruption. Blatter's money grafting plane might be going down in flames.

Ironically, with the bid for WC 2018 and WC2022 coming just days before the Presidential vote, how much is it worth for Blatter to toss a WC bid the way of the AFC to keep his position? Hmmm... Last time I checked, WC2022 was bid on exclusively by AFC teams (Japan, Australia, Qatar), and ... the US.

Honestly, this should be some interesting fireworks coming up this fall. If we, as fans, are lucky, Warner will be gone and we'll have a new and less corrupt CONCACAF President to clean up the Confederation. Most likely though, Warner will "step back" and his son will take over. Hooray Corruption!

Photos: The Guardian and Red Stripe Beer

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