Soccer’s warlord has been deposed. Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner has resigned as FIFA vice-president, in exchange for the ethics committee dropping bribery charges against him. He had been accused of arranging a meeting where Carribbean Football Union delegates received $40,000 in cash envelopes to vote for presidential challenger Mohammed Bin Hammam. Warner leaves with his maintained “presumption of innocence” and the millions he bilked (allegedly) during his 28-year tenure on FIFA’s executive committee.
For those unfamiliar with Warner’s reign of graft, here’s a brief timeline. He makes John Junker look like a cherubic innocent.
2002: Warner allegedly made an estimated $350,000 reselling FIFA tickets for the 2002 World Cup.
2004: According to the Scottish FA, Warner asked for T&T’s payment from a friendly between the countries to be paid in a check made out to him personally.
2006: Warner promised to pay Trinidad and Tobago players 50 percent of the federation’s income from the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Warner grossly under-reported the profits, initially offering the players around $800 each. By the most conservative estimate, the Soca Warriors were each owed around $130,000.
2006: FIFA estimated Warner and his son earned $1 million selling World Cup tickets. Warner signed an exclusive distribution deal with a travel company he owned, Simpaul, and then jacked up the cost of the tickets. He was fined, but allowed to keep his position. It’s unclear whether he ever paid the fine in its entirety.
2010: Lord Treisman, the former chairman of England’s 2018 World Cup bid, accused Warner of soliciting bribes in exchange for votes for England during the 2018 vote. Warner requested $4 million to build an education center in Trinidad and Tobago and another $800,000 to buy Haiti TV rights for the World Cup. Both payments were to be made to him personally. He ended up supporting Russia.
2011: FIFA suspends Warner for his involvement in a meeting where delegates attending a Caribbean Football Union summit were offered envelopes with $40,000 cash to vote for Mohammed bin Hammam against Sepp Blatter. Warner commented that he was “hung out to dry” and “gifts were not unusual.” He’s probably right.
These are just the substantiated incidences where he has been caught. We may just be viewing the iceberg tip.
Why did FIFA exonerate Warner? Let him leave on cushy terms? To keep him quiet. He knows everything. He could have delivered his promised “football tsunami,” napalming his way out the door by implicating virtually every high-flier in international soccer. Clemency buys his silence. He pledged to “die first” before cooperating with former FBI director Louis Freeh’s investigation. Not a win for the sport, but certainly a win for those still in power who would prefer to stay there.
Don’t drown your sorrows in whiskey and gin for “the Honorable” Jack Warner, however. He’ll be taking his talents to Trinidadian politics. Warner is presently Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Works and Transport. So, yes, every time someone wants the contract for a public works project in Trinidad and Tobago. They have to go through him.