ZURICH: FIFA has confirmed that Jack Warner WAS, indeed, once sold World Cup TV rights for one dollar but has insisted that this was common pratice as part of its development strategy writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Simultaneously, the world football federation has refuted claims that this and any other TV rights deals were connected, in any way, with the presidential eleftion campaigns of Sepp Blatter in 1998 and 2002.#
The statement, on the face of it, also reveals a potentially scandalous failure of FIFA’s accounting controls. In seeking to close one credibility gap, FIFA has potentially opened up a chasm, instead.
FIFA had been prompted into response mode by claims earlier this week from Warner, the former FIFA vice-president and ex-president of Caribbean, Central and North American authorities.
Warner, Minister of Works in Trinidad and Tobago, quit football last summer over the Bin Hammam bribes scandal. He then threatened a ‘football tsunami,’ the latest tidal wave being accusations last week that Blatter had sold him World Cup TV rights for one dollar.
FIFA responded that Warner’s comments had contained “several inaccuracies and falsehoods.”
A statement, supported by excerpts from meeting minutes, said that Warner acquired the FIFA World Cup television rights for the first time in 1986, “at that time for a symbolic sum (one dollar) from the then FIFA vice-president Guillermo Cañedo, who was also president of OTI.”
FIFA added: “As is written in the minutes of that meeting, Jack Warner explained that he then resold the rights to the Caribbean Football Union, subsequently ploughing the money back into football development in the Caribbean area.”
The FIFA statements explained that until 1998, “TV rights were provided by the rights-holders for symbolic sums in many territories (for example in Africa), in order to maximise the worldwide television coverage . . . and also to support national associations and confederations with a source of revenue for football development.”
It added: “This had nothing to do with the 1998 or 2002 election campaigns, or with any other election campaign. To imply the contrary is completely false. In fact, decisions related to TV rights deals for the FIFA World Cup are discussed and approved by either or all of the following bodies: the FIFA Marketing & TV AG Board/FIFA Finance Committee/FIFA Executive Committee.”
However, remarkably but with extreme revelevance bearing in mind current concerns over FIFA’s accounting, the statement makes no reference to whether any sort of controls had been put in place to check what happened to the monies generated by Warner from the resale of rights.
An inquiry was submitted to FIFA on this issue and was awaiting response.