The Loneliness of the Long Distance Liar

To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli (with a hat tip to Mark Twain) there are three types of liars: Liars, Damned Liars and Jack Warner.

I am monumentally indebted to a loyal BigSoccer member for this priceless ESPN interview with CONCACAF Supremo and Cuddly Teddy Bear Jack Warner:


So you see, it's really quite simple: Warner says "If I were corrupt, I wouldn't be here"

And since he quite obviously is there then, ipso facto, he's not corrupt.

I'm certainly glad we've straightened THAT out.

However, for those of you who are, sadly, somewhat more cynical and suspicious, perhaps we can look a little closer at what Warner actually said.

Now, to begin with, after telling us that he "sleeps very soundly at night", a topic which I'm certain you were concerned about, he blandly announces that "I have never sold a World Cup ticket in my life"

Now I suppose that, technically, he may be telling the truth here. There is no documentary evidence that places Warner out front of a World Cup venue holding a couple ducats high and the air and calling out "Got two to sell"

On the other hand, there's a PESKY LITTLE REPORT AUTHORIZED BY FIFA ITSELF wherein the highly reputable international accounting and auditing firm of Ernst and Young reported that, in fact, Warner and his son Daryan sold 5400 tickets to various WC06 matches.

To understand how this happened, we need some background.

In a leafy suburb in the capital city of Port of Spain, there's an office building that houses a travel agency called Simpaul.

Warner with son Daryan, President of Simpaul Travel

Daryan Warner is the President. Jack Warner, his wife his other son and his daughter constitute the Board of Directors. Warner's personal assistant is the company secretary.

And just for good measure, Jack Warner owns the building.

Beginning in mid 2005, Simpaul secretly sold ticket packages (or, as Warner says in the interview "I don't know what you call it - packages?") to travel agencies in other countries, bundling them with wildly over priced rooms.

900 tickets for England matches went to a Great Britain travel agency. 1500 tickets went to Soccer Travel in Miami. 3000 tickets went to an agency in Japan, bundled with hotel rooms booked through Kick Sports in Florida.

Now, it's important to understand FIFA's position on ticket peddling, which is best illlustrated by THE CASE IF ISMAIL BOMJEE, a FIFA Executive Board member from Botsawana.

Bomjee was caught selling 12 - let me repeat that: TWELVE - tickets to Germany 2006 matches. Sepp Blatter expelled him from the board and disqualified him from ever holding any soccer-related office anywhere on Earth for the rest of his life.

Warner - who, unlike Bomjee, controls 35 FIFA General Assembly votes which help keep Sepp Blatter in office - was caught red handed peddling over FIVE THOUSAND World Cup tickets, and after a biref inquiry in Decemebr of 2005 FIFA decided to, in their words, "forgive him".

The stated reason for this "forgiveness" is that Warner agreed to divest himself of all his ownership interests in Simpaul.

Which he apparently did as he is no longer listed as a director of the company.

Unlike, say, his wife, his two sons and his daughter, all of whom are still listed as board members. Daryan is still President. Jack's Personal Assistant is still the company secretary.

And of course Warner still owns the building.

Other than those minor details, Warner has no connection with Simpaul whatsoever, and FIFA agrees.

Incredibly though, after the FIFA investigation in December 2005 which culminated in him being "forgiven" the Warners went right on wheeling and dealing.

Warner's demands for tickets became so outrageous that the Manchester-based Byrom company, operators of FIFA's ticket office, tipped off Ernst & Young, who had been appointed to monitor potentially suspicious deals.

Two Ernst & Young accountants twice interviewed Warner Jr but he scoffed at their requests for detailed information required by the FIFA-Simpaul contract and said he would refuse to hand over documents.

FIFA refused to take any action.

A subsequent Ernst & Young investigation
was launched on June 20 when Swiss travel agent Antonio Gallicchio turned up at FIFA's Berlin hotel, complaining he had not received all the 100 euro tickets that he was paying 400 euros for.

He revealed that on June 14 Daryan Warner collected 180 tickets, ordered by his father, from FIFA's ticket office in Berlin and immediately handed them to Kick Sports.

The huge volume of tickets demanded by Warner rang alarm bells in FIFA's ticket office and a further Ernst & Young report submitted on July 8 to FIFA listed another 292 tickets ordered and charged to Jack Warner's American Express card and then resold at huge profits.

FIFA declined to take any action.

Then, incredibly, after three official investigations by FIFA's auditors and a rising public stink, Jack Warner submitted an order for 1,245 tickets to second round matches.

This was finally too much even for FIFA, which declined to fill the order.

Immediately after Germany 2006, in the face of the rising public outcry againstFIFA ticket corruption, Sepp Blatter announced with great fanfare that FIFA had started a new Ethics Committee which would be headed by the Internationally respected, beyond-reproach Lord Sebastian Coe of England.

What he failed to include in the announcement was that the committee was only authorized to investigate ethics violations committed AFTER WC06.

Jack Warner walked away scott free.

As a postscript, the recent England/T&T "friendly" which Warner staged in Port of Spain was a reported sellout almost a month before the game. The T&TFF told all inquirers that no tickets were available.

And yet, tourists traveling from England that week who asked around about how to get some tickets were directed to a small surf shop around the corner from the stadium.

There on the counter were large stacks of tickets, available for $100 apiece, as many as you'd like.

The surf shop is owned by Daryan Warner.