The Jack & Andy Show
Posted on January 30, 2012 3:35 pm
Today’s Quickie Quiz:
If FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke sent Jack Warner a personal, hand-written letter in which he purportedly says “So anyway, bro, here’s your multi-million dollar bribe for supporting Sepp Blatter; please make sure you don’t tell anybody because then everyone will want one” and suddenly, several years later, said letter ends up in the possession of British journalist Andrew Jennings, where would you suppose that he got it?
Did he break into the former CONCACAF HQ in Trinibago – the one Jack Warner himself has locked up tight and banned everyone, including the staff, from even entering – and rummage around some desks?
Or did his new BFF Jack Warner send it to him?
Maybe Jennings should consider chasing himself through a couple of airports:
Jennings: “Mr. Jennings, may I have a moment of your time, Sir?”
Jennings: Make an appointment with my secretary
Jennings: “I’ve tried, but she keeps hanging up on me”
Jennings: Then go and ask your Mother
Worst of all, this “evidence” is worthless.
Jack and Andrew want us to read it as saying: “Here’s the payoff you were promised in return for voting for Sepp Blatter”
What it actually says – assuming that one actually reads, you know, the words and stuff – is: “Please don’t make an announcement about this until after we get final approval from the board”
Nothing more. There’s nothing sinister, nothing untoward, indeed nothing particularly surprising.
If this is the best that Jack’s got, then Jack’s got nothing.
And the absolute, unavoidable, undeniable fact is that, as this is a handwritten note and thus there was no file copy made, the only place on Earth that Jennings could have gotten this is directly from the hand of Jack Warner.
Still, the worst part about this whole “Sepp Blatter paid off Jack Warner in return for CONCACAF’s votes” story isn’t Jenning’s disingenuous way of pretending that this stuff is falling from the sky and landing in his lap somehow.
It’s certainly true that taking a copy of an official CFU payment authorization letter from Warner, putting it in an envelope, mailing it to an FBI office someplace and then triumphantly pounding out a “Chuck Blazer is being investigated by the FBI” story is an appalling example of underhanded – even dishonest – journalism that borders on malpractice (and is probably legally actionable), but in this case, he’s simply choosing to ignore the obvious.
But whether these “stories” represent dishonesty or only sleaze, while an interesting topic, is mostly beside the point.
The real problem is not taking carefully cherry-picked documents from a criminal and passing them along; rather, the disgrace is in also passing along the dishonest narrative which said criminal wants the public to accept, to wit:
“Beginning in 1998, Sepp Blatter gave Jack Warner the World Cup broadcast rights for the entire Caribbean basin as a bribe in return for CONCACAF’s 35 votes. Warner turned the rights over to the CFU and then sold those rights for millions of dollars, which money was used for football development in poor Caribbean countries.”
This ludicrous – even bizarre – scenario is so absurd, so ridiculous, so monumentally dishonest that it truly boggles the mind.
What makes it worse – what is, in fact, utterly shameful – is that Jennings knows it but won’t say so for fear of losing his document source.
The truth here is simply this:
From 1986 to 1998, World Cup rights for the Caribbean were sold to OTI, the media conglomerate owned by Mexican FIFA Vice President Guillermo Canedo. Canedo in turn sold the rights to Warner for one dollar. Why he did this is open to speculation; some people will tell you that it was really Canedo who was buying Warner’s support.
Others, like yours truly, have commented that – particularly back then – Caribbean World Cup rights weren’t worth much anyway and if the CFU could make a few bucks on them and keep everybody – particularly Jack – happy in the process, it made good sense.
(It should also be noted that all of those rights were passed to the CFU many years before Blatter ran for the office in 1998. Joao Havelange was the President at the time.)
As for the rights since that time, they were not “given to Jack Warner, who then turned them over to the CFU to raise money for football” and anyone who believes that story is, simply, a colossal idiot.
Rather, the rights were granted directly to the CFU. Warner, in his role as President of that organization, then awarded those rights to his own company, JWI, which in turn sold them to various outlets. Jack pocketed the money. The CFU never saw a dime.
(Next time they chat on the phone – “You hang up first; no, you; OK we’ll both hang up on three…1…2…3..are you still there?…” – Andrew ought to ask Warner to send him the deposit slips for all those millions and millions of dollars he turned over to the CFU, an organization so broke they couldn’t afford to hold a meeting three months ago because the hotel demanded cash.)
Here’s another question for Jennings: since the note from Valcke was an attachment to the contract, where’s the document itself? That would prove, beyond debate, exactly who it was that the rights were awarded to, and would establish the facts beyond debate. Yet, oddly, Jack didn’t bother to send along the key piece of evidence.
Could it be because the contract does not correspond to Jack’s claims? Could it be that a responsible professional journalist would have wanted the answer to that question before he wrote his story?
Now let’s be honest here; as noted previously, everybody at FIFA has known for years that Warner was pocketing millions of dollars on these contracts (and Micheal Zen Ruffinen wrote about it in The Economist in 2002) and that the reason he kept getting away with it was because Blatter wanted to keep Jack happy.
It’s highly unlikely that there was ever any actual quid pro quo involved, trading TV rights for Jack’s vote. It was just one part of the overall deal, along with letting him get away with kiting five million dollars worth of World Cup tickets, letting him steal his national team player’s paychecks, giving him hosting rights for the various youth World Cups (garnering him big checks direct from FIFA itself), etc., etc., etc.
For over 20 years, whatever Jack wanted, Jack got. Was it in return for his support of Sepp Blatter? Of course it was. But it was a package deal and it wasn’t just at election time.
Be all of that as it may, there are several other angles to this story and it’s utterly astonishing that none of them are being explored.
For example, have you seen any headlines which read: “Disgraced former CONCACAF President Admits Selling His Vote”?
What this “revelation” really does is raise other questions, such as:
“Mr. Gulati (or Mr. Campeon, or Dr. Maestrocci) do you agree that ever since 1998 your national federation’s FIFA Presidential ballot has been cast for Sepp Blatter in return for a huge bribe paid to Jack Warner?”
Or, since the football journalists of the world are too lazy and stupid to bother writing their own stories (they prefer cutting and pasting Jenning’s stuff to doing actual work), here’s another story idea they could investigate:
Jack Warner claims Blatter personally gifted him assets – in the form of broadcast rights to SEVEN World Cups (1998 through 2022) – potentially worth as much as $100 million, in return for his votes in the FIFA Presidential election.
If this is so, then why did Warner, last May 10, participate in a massive scheme whose aim was to bribe the members of the CFU to vote for someone else?
Either a) he really hadn’t been bribed in return for his vote, but rather considered that money to be his due as President of CONCACAF, b) he was double crossing Blatter or c) Bin Hammam upped the ante and outbid Blatter for his support.
Any of which are far more likely – and interesting – stories than “kindly, selfless humanitarian Jack Warner gave up tens of millions of dollars in personal assets for the benefit of poor, starving Caribbean soccer players”, a proposition which would be laughable if it were possible to laugh while you’re throwing up.