DOHA: Giving a new twist to the FIFA World Cup corruption row, the Trinidad Express has reported that Britain and Australia also tried to bribe a top FIFA executive to secure the World Cup bid.
Former high-flying FIFA executive and Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West Jack Warner (Pictured) accepted gifts from nations bidding to secure World Cup hosting rights in the run-up to the 2010 vote in violation of the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA) and FIFA’s own bid rules, the Sunday Express (Sunday edition of the daily published in Trinidad and Tobago) reported.
The daily claimed that its investigations have found Warner accepted gifts valued in the millions of dollars from bidding nations, including the English football association, The FA and Australia.
“In the months leading up to the December 2010 vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, The FA sought to curry favour with the former Caribbean football jefe and voting member of FIFA, the world governing body for football, according to documents seen by this reporter,” Camini Marajh Head, Investigative Desk, said in the report.
The FA’s Director of Campaign Operations for England’s 2018 bid, Jane Bateman, was the point person in contact with Warner, the powerful and influential former Executive Committee (ExCo) member of FIFA who was forced out of world administrative football in 2011 by a cash-for-votes affair at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain.
“Documents obtained by the Sunday Express reveal The FA agreed to sponsor a dinner hosted by the Carib¬bean Football Union (CFU), of which Warner was founder and president, to the tune of £35,608 or TT$382,900,” said the report.
In the run-up to FIFA’s controversial bid to select host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, England sought to secure Warner’s support by footing the bill for the Warner-arranged CFU dinner at the Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, Macoya, and provide financial and technical support for other Warner-identified development projects in Trinidad.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and former English star footballer David Beckham also flew to Trinidad in the frantic bid to woo the very influential Jack Warner, who was not shy about asking for favours, said the daily.
“The bid committees were bound by FIFA rules which state that gifts given during the World Cup bidding process should be no more than “occasional gifts that are generally regarded as having symbolic or incidental value”.
The value of Russia’s largesse was reported to be over US$100,000—hardly the incidental value described in the FIFA-issued bid rules.
The former Soviet power picked up a tab said to be over US$100,000 for a four-day visit to Russia for Warner, his wife Maureen and two aides, according to documents seen by this newspaper, said the report.
In the case of the Australians, a US$462,000 donation for a Trinidad stadium upgrade ended up in Warner’s pockets. Australia also provided a US$2.5m grant to Warner’s buddy and president of the Jamaican Football Federation, Captain Horace Burrell, late in the bidding process in October 2010.
The former corporate affairs manager of Australia’s Football Federation, Bonita Mersiades, told the Sunday Express about the machinations and backroom deal-making of Australia’s bid consultant, Peter Hagitay, whom she described as “a very old friend of Jack Warner”.
She told the Sunday Express how Hagitay harangued her about a gift of pearl jewellery handed out to Fifa ExCo members and their partners at a private dinner held at the private mansion of billionaire Frank Lowy, president of the Federation and one of Australia’s richest men in 2008 before the Fifa issued bid rules in 2009.