Jack Warner Still Making Fools of the Soccer Media

As utterly astonishing as it may appear to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the entire Caribbean football scandal, Jack Warner continues to play the Western media like a cheap clarinet.

The latest example of the lamestream media's lazy cluelessness in regards to this story is the SHOCKING REVELATION currently reverberating around the football media echo chamber that FIFA has been handing over the TV rights to Jack Warner since 1998 for the princely sum of one dollar.

This is of course on a par with sending out a news flash about Lindbergh landing.

Andrew Jennings has been writing about it for over a decade. Trinidadian journalist Lasana Liburd has discussed it several times. Even your humble servant has talked about it to the point that I honestly considered it common knowledge.

Not good enough for you? How about the fact that no less a source than The Economist published this same "breaking news" back in 2002? (Hat tip to the intrepid Mr. Liburd)

It's not that this information hasn't been out there; it's that soccerv reporters simply haven't been paying attention and, incredibly in view of the events of the past 12 months, still aren't.

Still, that's not what's so very troubling about this "new story" now making the rounds. We all know that, posturing and self-importance aside, the media is primarily populated with a bunch of guys who really don't pay attention to anything which doesn't involve expense paid trips and media passes. We don't expect much else.

The problem is that I've been on the receiving end of several lectures from one or another of the American "big time professional soccer writers" whose names you would all recognize, who are unhappy with my continual harping on the fact that Jack Warner has been stealing and lying and hijacking the sport in this hemisphere for nigh on 20 years and none of these Princes of the Pressbox has ever so much as mentioned it.

Their response is that I "don't understand the realities of covering sports" in the US. They assure me that they are "closely following" events and are "fully aware" of what's going on, and that "someday" they're really going to let fly with a bigass old expose on it all, you betcha.

Right. And those cookies I set out by the fireplace on Christmas Eve were eaten by a jolly fat guy in a red suit.

The sad fact is that following this stuff is more work than they're interested in doing.

Much more fun to call up an MLS FO, intimidate some poor media department intern by mentioning the prestigious publication that pays your salary and having your ass kissed by some team flunky while you put your feet up on your desk and open the latest package of cookie cutter quotes from the thumbsuckers at USSF Media Relations and press "send" on the expense report for your trip to a game you barely understood in the first place.

But then along comes a quote from a man who anyone with a brain knows is a sick, bitter, racist, anti-Semitic, kleptomaniac liar who began making himself a very wealthy man by raping the coffers of regional football when most of them were still begging Mary Jane Grabcrotch for a handjob out back of the gym at halftime of the big game with Central and they can't wait to pass it along without even a modicum of intelligent reflection.

They'd all best remember this day the next time they feel the urge to spew a bunch of anti-blogger bullshit in a meeting with MLS officials if my ass is in one of the chairs because it won't just be Loney who laughs in their faces like it was the last time.

To show how truly ludicrous this non-story is, I'm linking to the outrageous report offered up by Bloomberg News, an article which is so intensely stupid that it apparently required not one but TWO highly credentialed idiots to write it.

Very first para:

"Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner said he got the World Cup television rights for Trinidad & Tobago for $1 after helping Sepp Blatter get elected president of the soccer ruling body."

I'll skip the fact that the first year listed is 1998, and Joao Havelage was the President of FIFA then, and move along to the second para, which is laugh-out-loud ridiculous:

"He used the revenue from selling on the rights to develop the sport in the Caribbean, where he’s from, according to the statement."

In fact, according to Warner - as dutifully related by the media imbeciles he so easily manipulates - the rights were awarded to him personally but he handed them over to the CFU so they could raise some money for soccer balls and shoes for poor Caribbean children.

Isn't that nice of him? What a saint this man is. Why are they all picking on him?

The truth, which everyone who has paid even a little attention has known for a long time, is unfortunately somewhat less prosaic:

Since Caribbean TV rights were not, individually, worth that much in a bunch of poor small population "countries" where football isn't widely popular anyway (and one of the biggest, Cuba, steals the signal anyway) FIFA really didn't care that much about them. ISL had no interest either.

The idea was that FIFA would sell the rights to all of the Caribbean to the CFU and let them mess with it. FIFA wouldn't have to waste time and money trying to sign a bunch of grass shack broadcasters and, maybe, the CFU could raise themselves a few bucks.

In reality what happened was that Jack Warner formed a corporation called JWI and, as President of the CFU, awarded the rights contracts to them. For nothing.

JWI then proceeded to peddle them to the various Caribbean countries for whatever they could get. In most places it wasn't much. In others, like Jamaica, it was a tidy piece of change.

And the best part was that JWI got to keep the money. All of it. Nothing whatsoever flowed back to the CFU for "development" or anything else. Every dime went into Jack Warner's pocket

As the years went by and the World Cup became a bigger deal, the rights which Havelange - not Blatter - originally granted to the CFU became more valuable, but not so much that it was worth pissing Jack off over.

In that sense, a small portion of the narrative is correct: Blatter, or more appropriately speaking the FIFA Media Committee, kept giving the CFU TV rights because it was a small price to pay for Warner's support.

So even as the dollars involved went up - reportedly, the 2014 rights were resold for around US$20 million, which is a lot of money to you and I but for FIFA, with their US$2.4 billion budget, it's a rounding error or a month's worth of single malt scotch - FIFA knew full well that Warner was stealing it all but didn't say anything because Blatter liked those 35 votes.

In an incredible piece of theater last October, FIFA announced that they were shocked - SHOCKED - to discover that this has been going on and cancelled the contracts which Warner had already granted to JWI for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

And THAT is what Warner is so furious about. He's said so on several occasions.

So to sum up:

Warner says Blatter gave him the TV rights personally and he gave them to the CFU s they could raise money for the children.

In reality, during the Havelange administration FIFA's Media Committee granted the TV rights for the Caribbean to the CFU, which Warner then stole and used to raise money which he pocketed for himself.

(And I'd also note that while they're only too happy to pass along Jack Warner's absurd, outrageous and patently ridiculous "statements" not a single one of them has ever written one solitary word about how this same man has stolen the confederation's bank accounts, locked it's officials out of their offices, hidden all the records and confiscated CONCACAF's $16 million "Center for Excellence". Not. One. Word.)

The only real news here is that he hasn't ever claimed - before yesterday - that the CFU was the beneficiary of the money. This was because not even he was willing to lie that much.

Now, however, he's getting the world football media to do it for him.