You Don't Know Jack

Being a FIFA Vice President is a really nice gig.

The salary of around $100,000 a year, by itself, is just for starters.

Every member of the Executive Council also gets a $500 "honorarium" for every day they are away from home on FIFA business. And of course there's no penny pinching on the accommodations: at the very least you fly first class if not by private jet (Blatter himself flies exclusively in charter airliners), stay in five star hotels and dine at the best restaurants in the world.

And the work? Arduous tasks like, for example, serving on the FIFA TURF COMPETENCE TEAM, where a large contingent of FIFA Executives makes frequent trips to Holland to "inspect the grass" (insert joke here) at the farm where most venue grass is being grown.

And of course endless "venue inspections" to gauge the progress of the various sites which will be holding this or that FIFA event in the next year. Or two. Now, some people might suggest emailing some photos around might serve the purpose pretty much as well as flying a committee (from multiple countries around the world) to Moscow for a week of fine dining might be a tad more "economical", but that's not a term that gets much usage around FIFA.

In short, this is one hell of a deal. And all you have to do to cash in on all this is be loyal to Sepp. Just ask Jerome Valcke.

An then there's John McBeth:

Last Spring McBeth - then President of the Scottish FA - was nominated to a FIFA Vice-Presidency.

Now, to fully understand the problem, you have to go back to 2004. Warner's pet Trinidad & Tobago team played Scotland in a friendly, and a payment was due to the T&T Federation. In other words, to Jack Warner.

"After the game" AS MCBETH RETELLS IT, "(Warner) asked me to make a cheque out to his personal account for the game"

"And I said, We don't do that, it should go to the association."

McBeth thought that was the end of it. McBeth didn't know Jack.

So fast forward to May of 2007. McBeth, newly nominated to the FIFA Excutive Committee, gives an interview to a number of British newspapers. And dares to tell the truth:

He described Fifa president Sepp Blatter as a “tricky customer” and of certain individuals “I know two or three (at Fifa) whom I’d want to count my fingers after shaking hands with them....If I come across corruption, I have to expose it. I must try to stay true to my beliefs and hope I don’t get seduced."

Now he should have stopped. He'd already lined up some powerful enemies. Nothing that couldn't be undone of course, until he - incredibly - handed Warner all he was going to need:

“By and large, the four British countries know what fair play is and when we are stepping out of line. But, as soon as you hit Africa, it’s a slightly different kettle of fish. They’re poor nations and want to grab what they can.

“I presume the Caribbean is much the same - they just come at it in a different way.” (Like, for example, asking to have checks made out to their personal accounts)

Warner reacted like a scalded cat. He demanded a full FIFA investigation by FIFA's "Ethics" committee (which is analogous to the North Korean Human Rights Commission) charging that McBeth was a racist. The FA backed down, yanked McBeth's nomination, fired him as head of the Scottish FA and nominated someone much more compliant.

Now, it's important to remember that Jack Warner's primary goal in life is to get the World Cup to a CONCACAF country. The US or Mexico, he doesn't much care.

During WC06, Jack made a real killing grabbing up huge chinks of the CONCACAF ticket allotment, having his own travel agency bundle them with airfare and a hotel and selling each one for around $2000 per ticket. He made a ton.

The fact that this violates FIFA rules is, of course irrelevant, as is the fact that when the whole deal came to light, Sepp Blatter "forgave" him. And of course let him keep the money.

But all of this is small potatoes compared to the staggering amount he could clear if the WC is held in his Federation. He would be the de facto head of the organizing committee. Between him and his pal Chuck Blazer, they'd control everything. He'd need a dump truck to haul way the money.

And the biggest obstacle to this enormous Tub O' Money? England's bid.

So while he had the English FA on the run, like a jackal who senses a wounded deer, he attacked.

He called England "AN IRRITANT" on the world football stage and added that "Nobody in Europe likes England. England invented the sport but has never made any impact on world football."

Later, Warner swore that he would "do everything he could" to see that England didn't get World Cup 2018. And since Warner owns 3 votes out of the 22 Executive board members, and directly controls at least 4 more, AND is Sepp Blatter's favorite partner in crime, Warner is well positioned to back up his threats.

It looked like a bloody battle was coming, and England looked to be the loser.

Then, last Thursday, Warner shocked the entire soccer world when he told Sky Sports "THE TIME HAS COME for England to host the World Cup. "They've waited long enough" he said, and continued that he will do "everything I can" to make certain England receives the bid.

Followers of the World Football scene are stunned. No one knows quite what happened here. But knowing Jack Warner, there's no question that this isn't a charitable impulse.

Part of the explanation came to light when it was announced that England has agreed to play a friendly in T & T in June. He won't have to ask anybody else to makeout the check to his personal account. He can do it himself.

(There is, of course, one small problem: the T & T side is currently on strike and is suing Warner and the Federation for monies owed from WC06. Seems they had an agreement with Warner to split T&T's share of the profits, which Warner says amounts to $800 per player. Lawyers for the players, who have filed suit in London, say that Warner underreported the income. By $25 million.)

But surely that's not it. Selling out a stadium in T & T is a nice payday, but it's peanuts compared to what controlling his own private orld Cup would yield. Everyone is scratching their heads.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, part of the answer may be playing itself out.

Next: Sepp on the Road