5 Jun 2015

Jack Warner faces new Fifa bribery claims

New bribery claims have been levelled against former Fifa executive Jack Warner. Meanwhile, the Irish FA says it received £3.6m to avoid legal action over Ireland’s failure to make the 2010 World Cup.

He has been at the centre of Fifa corruption allegations for years – and today there were new bribery claims levelled at the organisation’s former vice-president Jack Warner.

Mr Warner, who claims to have an “avalanche” of evidence on who paid what, to whom, was accused by Egypt’s sports minister of demanding $7m in return for his support in the country’s failed b id for the 2010 World Cup.

Mr Warner remains at home in Trinidad, where Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Rugman tried to speak to him.

‘Payment to the association’

In a separate development, John Delaney, head of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), revealed that his organisation had received £3.6m to avoid a legal challenge over Ireland’s failure to quality for the 2010 World Cup.

Ireland were eliminated by France in the second part of a two-legged playoff to qualify for the 2010 South Africa tournament. The decisive goal came in the second leg following a handball by French forward Thierry Henry, before crossing for William Gallas to score.

Revealing the €5m deal, Delaney said: “It was a payment to the association… not to proceed with a legal case. We felt we had a legal case against Fifa because of how the World Cup hadn’t worked out because of the Thierry Henry handball. Also the way Blatter behaved if you remember on stage, having a snigger, having a laugh at us.”

Speaking to RTE on Thursday, he explained, “So that day when I went in and told him how I felt about him… there were some expletives used, we came to an agreement.”

I went in and told [Sepp Blatter] how I felt about him… there were some expletives used, we came to an agreement. – FAI chief John Delaney

In a statement, Fifa said: “While the referee’s decision is final, and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) ultimately accepted it as such, in January 2010, Fifa entered into an agreement with FAI in order to put an end to any claims against Fifa. Fifa granted FAI a loan of €5m for the construction of a stadium in Ireland.”

Outrage and mockery

There was outrage over Henry’s goal in Ireland and beyond. Parody sites appeared on the internet and Irish newspaper Sunday World taunted Henry with a billboard declaring he was sorry “to the Irish people”.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter revealed that the FAI had asked the governing body to be handed a “33rd place” in the World Cup at a confidential meeting to discuss a possible replay.

Delaney criticised Mr. Blatter at the time for his handling of the incident and accused the Swiss of being “disrespectful”.

Delaney’s allegations raise further questions over Fifa’s unorthodox business practices surrounding the 2010 tournament, as well as the upcoming 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. It emerged this week a payment was made to disgraced FIFA vice-president Jack Warner on behalf of South Africa ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

A leaked letter from the South African Football Association showed they instructed Fifa Secretary General Jerome Valcke to pay $10m to Mr. Warner in 2008. It is alleged this payment amounted to a bribe to secure his vote for the countries tournament bid. Fifa denies the allegations.

The publication of the letter came just hours before Sepp Blatter announced he would stand down as Fifa president as soon as a new election takes place next year.

Awkward encounters

A planned meeting this weekend of Uefa members, which include France and the Republic of Ireland, was cancelled by president Michael Platini on Wednesday. Mr Platini said due to “the uncertain and unpredictable nature of the investigations, I have decided that it would be more appropriate to postpone the meeting that was announced last week”.

Representatives of many Uefa member states will still be in Berlin, where the meeting was due to take place, for the Uefa Champions League final – so there may be some uncomfortable moments to come.

Yesterday Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said England is ready to host the 2022 World Cup Qatar loses it in the wake of allegations of corruption and bribery in Fifa.

Today Fifa executive board member David Gill was reluctant to tell Channel 4 News Sports Correspondent Keme Nzerem if the comments were unhelpful.