A Swiss television programme has revived a long-running controversy over the bargain sale by FIFA of World Cup rights to Jack Warner when the Trinidadian held key roles within the central and north American confederation CONCACAF.
The latest allegations allege a direct link to Sepp Blatter, departing president of the world football federation.
An SRF programme has claimed that in 2005 Blatter signed off personally on the sale to Warner of 2010 and 2014 World Cup TV rights for an under-valued $600,000. A contract published by SRF demonstrated the regional rights as being valued at $250,000 for 2010 and $350,000 for 2014.
A Press Association report into its own investigations showed that Warner sub-licensed the rights to his own Cayman Islands-registered company J & D International (JDI). In 2007, JDI sold on the rights to Jamaica-based cable TV station SportsMax for a value that the broadcaster reported on its own website as being between $18m and $20m.
The Press Association report estimated the profit generated in the business by Warner as around $11m.
According to court documents in the Cayman Islands, Jeffrey Webb – Warner’s successor as president of the CONCACAF confederation – was a director of JDI at the time of the deal. Both Webb and Warner are facing corruption charges in the United States.
This is not the first time that details have emerged of Warner’s highly-favoured TV rights deals with FIFA.
In January 2012 FIFA conceded that Warner had acquired World Cup rights for the first time in 1986, “for a symbolic sum (one dollar) from the then FIFA vice-president Guillermo Canedo.”
Warner told the executive committee at the time that he resold the rights to the Caribbean Football Union, “subsequently ploughing the money back into football development in the Caribbean area.”
FIFA had said that, at this time, such agreements were common practice as part of its development strategy.