September 19, 2006 Sean Burns
By Christine Paluf
FIFA has created a new code of ethics committee, in light of recent accusations against head members of the organization over World Cup ticket scalping issues. Former British track star Sebastian Coe will head the committee, the Associated Press released Friday.
However, this new committee will not deal with the controversy over Jack Warner, FIFA vice president, being accused of scalping nearly $1 million in World Cup tickets. Instead, the case will go before the FIFA disciplinary committee.
“The ethics committee is not ready to deal with cases that occurred until now,” said FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Friday, according to the AP.
The 19-member disciplinary committee will review the allegations that have arisen over a report from auditors Ernest & Young, that claimed Warner made $933,000.
The ethics committee was “not the appropriate venue” to investigate Warner’s alleged illegal activity, Blatter said.
Warner “flatly denies the charges or evidence against him,” Blatter continued. But the organization did not talk about any possible punishment and said there was no date set for the committee’s meeting.
Accusations began when Britain’s The Daily Mail reported that it had obtained confidential reports revealing the money Warner allegedly made on the tickets. FIFA had known about the reports for months and according to Blatter was trying to deal with the issue internally.
Blatter called the release of the documents an internal “leakage which we will try to identify.”
The issue follows the ejection and subsequent resignation of another senior FIFA official, Ismail Bjamjee of Botswana. He was sent home from the World Cup in Germany for scalping 12 tickets for England’s match against Trinidad and Tobago for $380 a piece, when the face value on the tickets was $127, according to the AP.
The cases are considered to be “completely different,” according to Blatter, as “Ismail Bhamjee admitted that he had committed more than an error and even signed a document saying that he had done wrong.”
Warner not only denies the charges, but has also launched his own investigation into the report with American law firm Collins and Collins, according to Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday. Conclusions made by the law firm were printed in the publication on Sunday.
The first part of the report was released and says that a July 5 payment report was looked over by Warner’s assistant, and that she saw charges for tickets he hadn’t ordered. All the Ernest and Young reports notes is that Warner signed a credit card and had his name in parenthesis next to a customer reference number.
By July 8 when the Ernest and Young report came out, the Collins and Collins report called it suspicious timing, as it included a signed credit card receipt from the very day the report was released. Collins and Collins claim the entire 56-page Ernest and Young report could not have been drafted right after the receipt was signed.
The Collins and Collins report also includes email confirmation of actual tickets purchased for the World Cup by Warner, which the Ernest and Young report failed to include. Accusations of the purchase of thousands of tickets were made, however the proof of their purchase was not outlined.