By Christine Paluf
FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, is being investigated for alleged ticket sales of nearly $1 million during the World Cup, according to the Associated Press. Soccer’s governing body will look into the black market sale of thousands of tickets, including 900 to England fans, the AP released today.
Britain’ Daily Mail reported that confidential reports from FIFA auditors Ernst and Young show that Warner made at least $933,000 trading in World Cup tickets.
FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren confirmed that the reports existed, and told the AP “In this case, such matters request very careful assessment in order to avoid prejudgment. Therefore, these reports were being treated as confidential.”
The revelation of this information will no doubt cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the leaders of the association, as insider sales of ticket grabbed by big wigs before they go on sale may cause a public outcry. FIFA publicly renounced the practice of ticket scalping in a similar case with Ismail Bjamjee, who was forced to resign after the resale of only 12 World Cup tickets.
The tickets Bjamjee resigned over were also sold to England supporters, and it was for a match against Trinidad and Tobago, where Warner is from. The similarities appear to end there, as Bjamjee was credited for raising football standards in southern Africa, and held major positions in other bodies as well. He resigned as an honorary member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee as well. Bjamjee also plans in October to give up his presidency of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations.
Bjamjee’s reselling of the 12 tickets was held as an example of something FIFA would not tolerate, and he was immediately expelled from the tournament after being disgraced for his actions. There was no cover up, and action was swift, without any concern for “prejudgment.”
Warner, on the other hand, has been under scrutiny before. In February, he was cited by FIFA for an ethics violation over World Cup ticket sales. His family owned the only company selling tickets in Trinidad and Tobago, Simpaul, a travel agency, according to the AP.
Trinidadian government officials formerly alleged that Warner had used political contacts to secure construction contracts for more than double their cost.
These accusations did not result in public renouncing of Warner, as Bjamjee faced recently. No press conference was held where FIFA leaders renounced the practice and expressed their disappointment.
Herren’s only comment to the AP as to what would happen to Herren was that the executive committee would discuss the matter Friday in Zurich, “at Warner’s request.”
The practice may end up being more wide-spread than first appeared, and FIFA may have some explaining to do as to why treatment of senior officials differs from that of others. Perhaps it is because those that make the rules govern how they are followed.