Sunday, April 21, 2024

FIFA: Warner’s claims untrue


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ZURICH – Disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner peddled “inaccuracies and falsehoods” when he claimed last month that he got World Cup television rights for US$1 in exchange for supporting Sepp Blatter’s presidential campaigns, football’s world governing body said yesterday.
FIFA confirmed Warner’s claim that he received Caribbean broadcasting rights for US$1 per tournament, though from 1986 and not – as Warner said – from 1998 when Blatter was first elected.
“Such rights were ceded in order to provide an additional source of revenue for football development in the CFU (Caribbean Football Union),” FIFA said in a statement. “This had nothing to do with the 1998 or 2002 election campaigns, or with any other election campaign.
“To imply the contrary is completely false,” FIFA said.
FIFA said that, until 1998, World Cup rights were often sold for nominal sums to maximize coverage in developing nations, and provide football bodies with extra revenue from selling on rights to broadcasters.
Warner was expected to raise money for his home Caribbean region, which he led for more than two decades until resigning all his football duties last June to avoid a FIFA investigation into alleged election bribery.
FIFA said Warner detailed a television deal involving “his private company JDNG and Kirch Media” at executive committee meetings in late 2001. German media giant Kirch had acquired World Cup rights months earlier after FIFA’s former marketing partner ISL collapsed into bankruptcy.
“Jack Warner explained that he then resold the rights to the Caribbean Football Union, subsequently ploughing the money back into football development in the Caribbean area,” FIFA said in an extract of meeting minutes released in yesterday’s statement.
Warner continued to control Caribbean World Cup television deals beyond 1998, and held the 2014 rights until his resignation.
In October, FIFA revealed it had sold rights “across the Caribbean” for 2014 to broadcaster IMC after it terminated the long-standing agreement with Warner.
Warner made his claims last month, days after FIFA paid for Caribbean football leaders to attend a summit in Zurich aimed at rebuilding the CFU’s reputation and structures after the turmoil caused by the bribery scandal.
After years of backing Blatter, Warner had switched sides ahead of last June’s presidential election to support challenger Mohamed bin Hammam.
They invited Caribbean voters to a May meeting in Warner’s native Trinidad where delegates were offered $40 000 cash in brown envelopes.
Whistleblowers alerted FIFA and bin Hammam and Warner were provisionally suspended from football three days before the poll, allowing Blatter to win unchallenged.
bin Hammam is challenging his life ban imposed by FIFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The scandal also revealed the CFU’s financial problems, despite years of apparently benefiting from Warner’s World Cup TV deals.
A presidential election conference to replace him last November was postponed because the CFU could not afford to stage the event in Jamaica. (AP)


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