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Jack Warner involved in cronyism?

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Trinidad's PM to Intervene in Ticket Sales

By LOREN BROWN , 01.05.2006, 04:35 PM

Trinidad's prime minister said Thursday his government will intervene in the sale of World Cup tickets amid allegations of cronyism and price gouging against a leading soccer official.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning's comments came in response to allegations published by the Trinidad and Tobago Express charging that the sole agency selling World Cup tickets in the country was owned by the family of FIFA vice president Jack Warner, a senior adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm surprised to see Canada mentioned.


In a World Cup Year, There Must Be a Scandal Somewhere

By Grahame L. Jones, Times Staff Writer

Corruption, thy name is FIFA.

When it comes to scandal, soccer's world governing body leaves the International Olympic Committee looking like a choirboy, as pure as the driven snow that piles up at this time of year around FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

World Cup years are worse than others because the quadrennial tournament, apart from being a huge sporting event, is a financial cash cow of immensely bloated proportions. Opportunities abound for the greedy, the unscrupulous, and the unethical.

Not surprisingly in the Joseph "Sepp" Blatter era, FIFA's "for the good of the game" leadership jumps at the chance.

It was only last month that Urs Linsi, FIFA's general secretary, said in Leipzig, Germany, that the 2006 World Cup would generate $1.7 billion — most of it from television and sponsors — and would be the most profitable in history.

It comes as no great shock, therefore, that the stench of cronyism and conflict of interest is rising from several locales, not least of them Port of Spain, Trinidad, as the scramble for World Cup tickets intensifies.

In Port of Spain, Jack Warner, a FIFA vice president, president of soccer's North and Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region and a "special advisor" to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), is up to his neck fending off accusations of questionable ethics.

Again. Just as he had to do in 2001.

A three-part investigative series by journalist Lasana Liburd of the Trinidad Express has revealed that Warner and his family own a company, Simpaul Travel Services Limited, that bought Trinidad and Tobago's entire allocation of World Cup tickets from the country's soccer federation.

Simpaul, the Express wrote, stands to make millions of dollars, not off individual ticket sales but rather by selling packages that include accommodations and tickets for all three of Trinidad and Tobago's three first-round matches, against Sweden, England and Paraguay. At prices far above what might be expected.

"Soca Warrior" fans have no choice. It's the package or nothing.

Tickets that FIFA priced at $360 and $214 are being sold, by Simpaul, for $4,875, Liburd wrote "with the addition of lodging for 12 days in Germany and a national flag, replica shirt and wristband" but "exclusive of airfare and ground transport."

Depending on how many tickets they have — no one will reveal the number — "the Warners could be $50 million [u.S. $8 million] richer from ticket sales alone," Liburd calculated.

When the Express asked "whether it was ethical for the country's ticket allocation to be diverted to Warner's private company," neither Oliver Camps, the TTFF president, nor Warner would comment, the newspaper said.

"Do you know who the owner of Simpaul is?" it quoted Camps as saying. "Let us not go there."

Warner, meanwhile, was even more dismissive.

"You write what you want to write," he told Liburd. "I have nothing to discuss with you."

Once the series was published, however, and once the Trinidad and Tobago government had threatened to step in and sort matters out, Warner, his ego flaring, was much more forthcoming.

"It is not a crime to be successful, even for people like me," he said, pompous as ever, adding that no one should "attempt to impute improper business practices and conflicts of interest to me."

The Express series, he claimed, was "part of a well-timed, carefully orchestrated character assassination, designed to devalue any political currency which opponents … feel I might have been developing as a result of the Soca Warriors' World Cup qualification alongside my own efforts within the United National Congress to unify the party and country."

In a World Cup Year, There Must Be a Scandal Somewhere

Page 2 of 2 << back 1 2

In the same Jan. 3 news conference, Warner said he believed "the intention of the articles is to change the reference point of Jack Warner in the minds of the public, or more importantly, the electorate. It was designed to sully the Warner name and to reframe the recent achievements I have yearned and struggled for over many years in the football arena."

Aside from being a grammatical shambles, such comments are not only self-serving but absurd.

In Warner's eyes, it's all a conspiracy designed to thwart his political ambitions, not a matter of ethics at all. Why shouldn't a FIFA vice president snap up all his country's World Cup tickets and make a financial killing?

With soccer fans in Trinidad and Tobago up in arms over what they perceive as unfair practices and price gouging, Patrick Manning, the country's prime minister, was forced to step in.

Sports minister Roger Boynes said the government would try to buy tickets from the federation — even though no more supposedly are available — and would arrange charter flights for fans on the national airline.

Such is the arrogance of FIFA's leaders that Warner brushed this aside.

"No government in the world can intervene in FIFA's business," he said, "and that's the bottom line. Mr. Manning represents the government of Trinidad and Tobago. FIFA doesn't deal with governments."

As the Express pointed out, this is not the first time that Warner has enriched himself off a FIFA event.

"Warner similarly cashed in," it said, when Trinidad and Tobago played host to the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship. "Then, his companies controlled exclusive contracts to supply air tickets to all competing foreign teams as well as catering and IT [communication] deals for all the stadiums."

This is the man who presides over CONCACAF, the 38-member regional soccer confederation of which the United States, Canada and Mexico are a part.

As long as Warner can deliver CONCACAF's votes to his good pal Blatter, FIFA's equally insufferable president, no one in Zurich is going to question the way he is lining his pockets.

Meanwhile, have U.S. Soccer, Soccer Canada or the Mexican Football Federation, the region's supposed powers and presumptive molar leaders, ever raised a squawk about the ethics or lack thereof within CONCACAF?

Have the American companies — Anheuser Busch, Coca-Cola, Gillette, Mastercard, McDonald's — that give tens of millions of sponsorship dollars to FIFA ever questioned how that money is being used or misused? Not a chance.

They just go along with it all.

If soccer itself can't or won't clean up its act, if governments supposedly are powerless to intervene, then perhaps the way to accomplish change is through the sponsors.

Money is all that matters to FIFA's elect, so if fans can turn off the financial tap by boycotting or at least pressuring FIFA's sponsors, soccer might eventually be able to rid itself of those who currently infest its highest reaches.

For the real good of the game.

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I call BS, you could buy TST tickets for Trinidad and Tobago directly from FIFA . They were still available when I picked up my swiss tickets. Which i think was around September. I remember because I considered buying both them and Israel tickets around that time. So anyone who really was a fan of TnT could have got them. I mean really good tickets too, TST-5s if my memory serves me right.

So while they might be repackaging tickets gained through the TnT FA I don't see any difference with this then what US Soccer has with one of the travel package companies. The ticket allocation to national assocation is actually really low, around 10% of the stadium size for each team per game, so hypothetically TnT sold all their extra tickets to Warner instead of distributing them to their fans directly. So maybe 3k tickets per game were purchased by Warner.

I mean you could say there is a conflict of intrest since Jack Warner is involved, but if he just outbid other companies for the privilege to repackage tickets and didn't use any inflence from his position who cares.

Actaully go check the website yourself: http://www.simpaultravel.com/package.htm

you will find that they don't sell tickets, just packages

"Match Tickets are not included and you must source these directly from TTFF (Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation) or via the FIFA Web site."

Talk about a whole load of BS, sounds like some times reporter's wife is an executive from visa, pepsi, burger king or any other rival of a tournement sponsor.

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