Football: Fifa won't change, says Jack Warner

File photo of Fifa's logo seen on its headquarters in Zurich.
File photo of Fifa's logo seen on its headquarters in Zurich. PHOTO: REUTERS

Former vice-president of world body alleges Cup bidding processes will not be overhauled

LONDON • An unrepentant Jack Warner has insisted that he asked for "nothing out of the ordinary" from England and other World Cup bidders - and even told The Times of London that such behaviour will continue for future Fifa tournaments.

The disgraced former vice-president of world football's governing body was named in Michael J. Garcia's long-secret report as asking for and receiving favours from nations bidding for football's 2018 and 2022 World Cups, including England, in breach of the rules.

Australia paid US$500,000 (S$690,000) into his personal account for a development project.

The 74-year-old, a former senior minister in the government of Trinidad and Tobago, who is fighting extradition from Trinidad to the United States, defended his actions.

He said that he had no concerns about the findings in the Garcia report - which is now being reviewed by Britain's Serious Fraud Office - and that Fifa's reforms would not lead to significant change in bidding practices.

In an e-mail to The Times, Warner said: "Nothing in the report that I asked for was out of the ordinary in the Fifa for the last 100 years as far as bidding countries are concerned, and these new-found purists in world football today will do the same thing and more next time around."

England's 2018 bid committee bent over backwards to woo Warner, including finding his "adopted son", Richard Sebro, jobs with Tottenham Hotspur, at Wembley and with Aston Villa.

UNAPOLOGETIC STANCE

Nothing that I asked for was out of the ordinary... these new-found purists in world football today will do the same thing and more next time around.

JACK WARNER, casting doubts on the way Fifa will operate in the future.

Other favours granted to Warner, who is due to appear in court in Trinidad at the end of next month when he faces an extradition order to the United States to answer corruption charges, were the waiving of a £168,000 (S$301,240) debt owed to the Football Association (FA) by the Jamaican Football Federation and the sponsorship of a £36,000 Caribbean Football Union gala dinner.

Undisclosed "favours and benefits" were granted by the FA to Joe Public Football Club, a team that was owned by Warner, who has been indicted by the US Justice Department on eight counts of football- related corruption, including taking a US$10 million bribe to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

Warner remains unapologetic and also queried why the report by Garcia, an American lawyer, cleared the United States' 2022 bid of any wrongdoing.

He added: "Everything I asked the FA for was for other persons or entities and never for my family or me."

Warner said that the US Soccer Federation had arranged a visit to the White House for himself and Sepp Blatter, then the Fifa president, to meet former president Barack Obama, and had done the same for African Fifa members.

"How is this different?" he said in the e-mail. "But, then again, this is the US that I guess determines if you rise or fall, live or die."

The Garcia report also revealed that England 2018's bid chairman, Geoff Thompson, admitted having agreed to a vote-trading deal with South Korea's Fifa member at a meeting that was also attended by Prince William and David Cameron.

Thompson, who was praised by Garcia for his openness, told The Times: "We did not try to hide anything."

Thompson was uncomfortable about an agreement made by the FA eight days before the World Cup vote in December 2010 for England to play Thailand in a friendly.

Thompson told Garcia that such matches were "a form of bribery".

The Thai Fifa member Worawi Makudi, who is serving a five-year ban, was given the TV rights to the game, which the FA pulled out of.

Fifa has so far declined to confirm the details of all the ethics cases recommended by Garcia.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Fifa won't change: Warner'. Print Edition | Subscribe