Former Trinidad politician and high-ranking FIFA official Jack Warner “showered England’s bid team with inappropriate requests” during the selection process for the 2018 World Cup tournament, according to a lengthy review done at the request of world football’s governing body.
The English Football Association, which was ultimately unsuccessful in its bid to host the 2018 tournament, showed “an unfortunate willingness” to cooperate with Warner’s requests, even if all of them did not eventually come to fruition, the FIFA report noted.
“Mr. Warner had considerable influence as CONCACAF President [at the time] and FIFA Executive Committee Member,” the report states. “The record shows he repeatedly used that power to exact personal benefits in violation of the FIFA code of ethics.
“England 2018’s response shows an unfortunate willingness, time and time again, to meet [Warner’s] expectation.”
Hundreds of pages of investigative documents were released last week by world football’s governing body after a German newspaper obtained them and began publishing excerpts from the records. The report for FIFA was done by New York-based attorney Michael Garcia in 2014, and a much shorter summary of the document was previously released by FIFA. However, Mr. Garcia said at the time that the initial release was “incomplete and erroneous.”
A number of World Cup bids are reviewed, including the U.S. bid for the 2018 and the 2022 World Cup contests, as well as Russia’s successful bid for the 2018 World Cup.
The report on England’s failed 2018 cup bid focuses on the FA’s efforts to woo Warner, a then-powerful member of FIFA, who ran the football confederation for the Caribbean, North and Central America, and who had significant influence in deciding which nation would receive the 2018 World Cup.
The FIFA report states that Warner requested a number of favors from the English FA and its 2018 World Cup bid team, including employment at British football clubs for his “adopted son,” financial aid for his own football club in Trinidad, the waiving of debt owed to the FA by the Jamaican Football Federation and an all-expenses paid trip to the U.K. for a Trinidadian youth team.
“Culpability in these events does not hinge on whether the benefits discussed … furthered a worthwhile cause,” the FIFA report states. “Likewise, England’s response to these improper demands – at a minimum always seeking to satisfy them in some way – damaged the integrity of the ongoing bidding process.”
Following the time of the events the FIFA report covers, Warner was indicted in the U.S. in connection with world football’s racketeering and bribery scheme and American authorities are still seeking his extradition from Trinidad. Warner has publicly denied wrongdoing in connection with the U.S. prosecution.
While the English FA and its 2018 World Cup bid team are harshly criticized in the Garcia evaluation of the 2018 bid process, it is noted that many of the facts uncovered in the report are largely due to the cooperation of English officials.
Based on correspondence obtained by FIFA investigators, it appears Warner solicited the assistance of English football officials, at least partially, to help him win a local election in 2010.
Warner wrote in early 2010 to England 2018 World Cup bid campaign operations director Jane Bateman seeking U.K. assistance in improving sports facilities in the village of Longdenville, Warner’s hometown.
“In successfully assisting them, my political stocks locally … will soar, positioning me in an extremely favorable position to successfully lead my party in the local elections …,” read part of a message Warner sent explaining what he wanted from England’s bid team.
Ranking members of the England 2018 bid team traveled to Trinidad in late February 2010 to view the sports facilities there. The recollection of that trip is recounted by then England 2018 bid chief executive Andy Anson:
“[Warner] gave the English bid team this document which was a project in Longdenville, where they needed a new sports area, and they needed $50,000 to be spent … We then read this and thought it was strange, and we turned up in town, and we got marched into the schoolyard where the whole village was there, everyone was out there. Jack Warner said, ‘These are the guys from England, they are going to sort out your problem.’ That was inappropriate and you did feel like you were being strong-armed into doing something ….”
Ms. Bateman said Warner took the England 2018 bid delegation to a run-down football pitch and said she thought that “it was implicit” that Warner wanted the bid committee to fund the construction of a new pitch, though he did not state that explicitly.
“We didn’t have that kind of money,” Ms. Bateman stated in the Garcia report. “But you couldn’t really tell Jack that sort of thing.”
Journalists in Trinidad, following the England 2018 bid team’s visit, cited “sources” who indicated $500,000 would be spent to fix the sports field at the back of the Longdenville school grounds. However, the FIFA investigation found no evidence that such a commitment was given, nor money paid, by either the 2018 bid team or the FA.
“Mr. Warner, having enjoyed the substantial media hype from his visit to Longdenville with England 2018, apparently lost interest in the project,” the FIFA report states.
Jamaica football debt
The FIFA report also uncovered an April 2010 communication in which a Jamaican football official requested that Warner “use his influence” to help the Jamaica Football Federation out of a debt.
According to the email, sent by a man named Neville Pennant, the Jamaica Football Federation owed the English FA US$215,000 and owed an additional US$18,500 to a “private English firm.”
“Mr. Warner, is it possible for you to ask the English FA to waive Jamaica debt?” the email read. “This is an emergency.”
Warner forwarded the message to then-England 2018 bid chairman Lord David Triesman and Ms. Bateman, saying he “crave[d] your kindness and understanding in having the debt of the JFF to your FA be written off ….”
Lord Triesman responded, “I can understand the problem and it does need a solution. I’ll see our people next Monday and talk through possibilities ….”
“No other communications about this issue appear in the record, and it is unclear whether the FA forgave any debt,” the FIFA report states.
“These communications reflect yet another example of Mr. Warner’s expectations as a voting executive committee members that any request – for himself, his team or his friends – would be accommodated,” the report continued. “For its part, England 2018 entertained this request by Mr. Warner to benefit a third party.”
Job for ‘adopted son’
During 2009 and 2010, FIFA records show that Warner sent numerous messages to ranking members of England’s 2018 bid team asking them to find employment for the son of his banker, whom Warner said he considered to be “my adopted son.”
After discussions back and forth that involved Lord Triesman and Ms. Bateman, the young man was offered a temporary summer job with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Warner wrote a follow-up email to Lord Triesman on July 9, 2009: “I do wish to register my profound disappointment with the FA re: its failure to assist [the young man] with gainful employment for a protracted period of time ….”
England’s 2018 bid committee then contacted Warner in August 2009, informing him that it had found new employment for the young man “with us.”
The report states that this process repeated itself in October 2010, just a few months before FIFA would vote on the award of the 2018 World Cup, with Warner seeking another job for his protege “in the Wolverhampton/West Midlands area for 20 hours per week at a minimum of 10 pounds an hour,” the report states.
By Nov. 15, 2010, a job offer at Aston Villa Football Club had been accepted, the FIFA report states.
“It is … apparent from the emails that the England bid team provided this benefit with Mr. Warner’s status as a voting FIFA Executive Committee member in mind,” the report states.
Joe Public football
Warner solicited favors and benefits related to the football team he owned in Trinidad, the “Joe Public Football Club,” but whether the England bid team or the FA actually provided any such benefit was unclear, the FIFA report stated.
“Email correspondence shows, however, that England football officials appeared willing to do so,” the report states.
One request was made for the coach of the Joe Public club to travel to England to receive some training at a U.K. club. England 2018 bid officials responded favorably to Warner’s request, but had nothing further on it and FIFA investigators were uncertain whether any such training had been provided.
In March 2010, records show Warner and Ms. Bateman discussed whether England could provide “more extensive benefits” to Joe Public Football Club. This included an expenses paid trip for 25 players and six administrative staff to travel to England to play friendly matches against English youth teams and club teams “where possible.” A similar request was made in June 2009 for a one-week “training camp” for the Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 team, all expenses paid, to the U.K. which would include some friendly matches. English football officials agreed to pick up the tab, according to the FIFA report, for in-country travel, meals and accommodation but did not agree to pay for overseas travel.