MIAMI, (Reuters) – Ousted former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner said yesterday he had documented evidence to back his claim that he was gifted World Cup television rights in return for FIFA votes and accused the organisation of being “disingenuous and dishonest”.
The Trinidadian, who had promised to unleash a “tsunami” against FIFA following his suspension from soccer’s world governing body, said last month he was awarded the TV rights for seven World Cups at a minimal fee as a reward for securing votes for FIFA president Sepp Blatter in his election campaigns.
For the 1998 tournament, Warner said FIFA sold the rights to him, through a Mexican company, for just $1.
FIFA hit back last week saying Warner had been awarded TV rights for Trinidad since 1986 and that it was normal practice at the time for them to be provided for only a symbolic fee.
FIFA added that Warner’s claims included “several inaccuracies and falsehoods” and that the television rights issue “had nothing to do with the 1998 or 2002 election campaigns, or with any other election campaign.
“To imply the contrary is completely false,” it said in a statement. Warner, who was CONCACAF president for 21 years, resigned from all his soccer positions in June last year after he was suspended by FIFA following allegations in a cash-for-votes scandal in the run-up to the presidential election.
The former powerbroker in the Caribbean yesterday stood by his claims and said FIFA had ignored his comments about other favourable deals.
“To choose to respond only to the allegation that FIFA sold to me the FIFA World Cup Rights for Trinidad and Tobago for one dollar ($1.00) USD in 1998 and refuse to even comment on the other accusations that the FIFA World Cup Rights for 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 were also sold to me at a nominal fee is nothing more than deception,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“All of these were given to me based on the critical roles I played in guaranteeing the FIFA Presidency to Sepp Blatter,” Warner added.
“FIFA must be aware of the fact that I still have in my possession the contracts which were given to me, as well as personal notes which were handwritten and signed that will corroborate my accusations, and as such should be honest in its reporting to the international community”.
Warner cited one handwritten note from FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke but the context of the note was not clear.
“The FIFA’s decision, therefore, to selectively respond to the accusations I have made against it and its President is both disingenuous and dishonest,” added Warner.
He said he had also been promised the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in return for his support for Blatter in the 2011 election but this was later revoked.
“FIFA… damns itself for withdrawing the said FIFA World Cup Rights for 2018 and 2022 after it was alleged that I refused to support the presidency of Mr Blatter.
“These actions can stand alone as demonstrative of the fact that there has been a relationship between the roles I played in the success of Blatter’s presidential campaigns and the award of FIFA World Cup Rights to me.
“Thankfully, the proceeds of the sale of these rights were always used for regional development. It was never for personal enrichment,” he said.
FIFA declined to comment immediately on Warner’s latest statement when contacted by Reuters yesterday.