FIFA pulls out of multi million world cup TV deal
Published 08/09/2011 | 16:52
FIFA have terminated a multi-million 2014 World Cup TV deal after discovering the rights had been sub-licensed to a company owned by controversial former vice-president Jack Warner.
The agreement with the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) has been brought to an end after FIFA told the organisation they had not approved the sub-licensing deal with Warner's company JD International (JDI).
Warner, who was at that time also the CFU's president, sold the rights to Jamaica-based cable TV station SportsMax in 2007 for a fee reported to be between 18million and 20million US dollars, though that included the 2010 World Cup as well.
FIFA were also owed several payments dating back to 2009 for the rights, which covered 29 Caribbean countries.
Warner resigned from all football activities in June, a month after being charged with bribery by FIFA, who then dropped their investigation saying they no longer had jurisdiction over the Trinidadian.
FIFA have sent a letter to the CFU saying they have "only recently become aware" of the sub-licensing agreement, as well as detailing the missed payments, and terminating the contract.
Warner has claimed that FIFA's action is "designed to go after me" and that he was shocked that the CFU had been targeted.
FIFA said in a statement to the Press Association: "The CFU was a media rights licensee for FIFA events in selected territories in the Caribbean.
"However, CFU is no longer a media rights licensee of FIFA. FIFA has secured good coverage in the region directly, but has still not finalised any announcement."
Conservative MP Damian Collins, who is campaigning for FIFA reforms, said Warner's involvement pointed to a clear conflict of interest.
The initial contract with the CFU was agreed in 2005 giving the organisation the rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups for countries in the Caribbean.
The CFU, headed by Warner, sub-licensed the rights to his company JDI. In 2007, JDI sold on those rights to SportsMax.
FIFA have said they had not approved the sub-licensing and had only become aware of it recently, but there was no secrecy about Warner's involvement.
Indeed he held a photo opportunity with SportsMax executives to announce the deal, and according to SportsMax's own website, the deal was worth between $18m and $20m.
The website said Warner "negotiated the deal on behalf of JDI" and "in his capacity as president of the CFU".
Collins, who sits on the culture, media and sport committee, said the reforms to be announced by FIFA president Sepp Blatter needed to address conflicts of interest.
He said: "There should be a very strict code where members of FIFA's executive committee have to declare all their financial interests.
"If it look like senior officials are making money on the side as a result of their role in football, that is plainly wrong.
"For someone who has responsibility for the game of football to be making money out of the exploitation of that game cannot be right."
Warner's close connections to the television rights in the Caribbean were also revealed by former FA chairman Lord Triesman in his claims about improper approaches during England's 2018 World Cup bid - Triesman said Warner asked for 500,000 dollars to be channelled through him to buy the television rights to show the 2010 World Cup on big screens in earthquake-hit Haiti. Warner said FIFA's action against the CFU was a publicity stunt.
He told the Press Association: "Such ignoble pursuit has nothing to do with the cleansing of corruption within the FIFA but rather to offer the perception of an aura of cleansing within the FIFA.
"The matter is designed to go after me... and is now with the CFU's Swiss lawyers."
Meanwhile, FIFA have confirmed that Mohamed Bin Hammam's appeal against his life ban for bribery will be heard next week.
Bin Hammam was banned after the ethics committee ruled in July he was responsible for cash gifts totalling around 1million US dollars to officials from associations belonging to the CFU at a meeting in Trinidad on May 10, after which Warner was also charged. FIFA last month charged 16 of those officials with rule breaches in connection with that meeting.
If Bin Hammam's appeal fails, the Qatari can then go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, and possibly after that to the Swiss federal court.
In a letter to the ethics panel chairman Petrus Damaseb sent this week Bin Hammam insisted he had not bribed anyone and claimed FIFA would never have dared to take action against him if he were European.