HIGH STAKES GAMBLING: How FIFA vice risked TV rights on black market flop

TV rights worth 20 million USD were at stake when Jack Warner's black market ticket deal went to pieces earlier this year.

WITH FRIENDS: Mr. Jack Warner had a lot to loose when the deal with the Norwegian black market operators failed. Here Mr Warner (m) is pictured with Pelé, Nelson Mandela og Samuel Eto'o. Photo: AFP
WITH FRIENDS: Mr. Jack Warner had a lot to loose when the deal with the Norwegian black market operators failed. Here Mr Warner (m) is pictured with Pelé, Nelson Mandela og Samuel Eto'o. Photo: AFPVis mer
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||| (Dagbladet): The risk of losing the highly valuable TV-rights for the Caribbean made FIFA vice president Jack Warner fume with anger. This emerges from emails Dagbladet has gained access to, and is confirmed by several well-informed sources.

As Dagbladet has revealed, Jack Warner was involved in the sell-on of World Cup tickets to the black market, also for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Warner is vice president of FIFA, the head of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and Deputy Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Trusted partners Through a small handful of trusted business contacts, including a Norwegian financier, a Polish ticket shark and a Swedish businessman, he offered tickets from the Caribbean Football Union to operators on the black market.

Today Dagbladet can reveal how far more than a few empty seats were at stake, when a black market deal collapsed earlier this year.

High risk Dagbladet knows the details of the deal. A Norwegian black market ticket company ordered several hundred World Cup tickets from Warner. CFU then ordered the same amount of tickets from FIFA. who then billed CFU 80 000 USD for these tickets. CFU then sent the bill to the black market company.

Dagbladet has access to the bill and an email where the black market dealers are asked to pay, to a SWIFT account associated with CFU.

Failed deal However, the payment from the black market ticket company never arrived.

According to emails sent between the CFU and the black market, it is clear that Warner earlier this year was highly concerned about the future of his TV-rights as the deal broke down.

One of Mr. Warner's closest associates writes that the CFU «(...) can lose TV rights because of this"

Fuming Warner The message was sent after the frustration of CFU had built up over time, due to the missing payment. In the e-mail exchange that followed, it emerged that Jack Warner felt embarrassed and upset as the trade seemed to go down the drain.

The reason why Mr. Warner was fuming with anger was he feared unpaid tickets and a new ticket-farce would further deem his status within FIFA.

Among the recipients of the emails where the payment was demanded, are executives both at FIFA TV and Infront Sports & Media — the company whose CEO goes by the name of Philippe Blatter, and is Sepp?s nephew.

- Number one source From 2006-2009 FIFA?s sale of TV rights generated a profit of 2 billion USD, and Sepp Blatter himself is on record saying that the sale of TV rights is FIFA?s number one source of income.

According to respected journalist Andrew Jennings, printed in the ISS report «Player and Referee», Jack Warner first aquired the Caribbean TV rights in 1990 — after declaring he was «eternally grateful and permanently indebted» to then FIFA president Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter — general secretary at the time.

The asking price for the TV rights was one (1) dollar.

Warner quickly sold the rights. The price is not known.

Easy access In 1999, however, FIFA snubbed Warner for the TV rights for the 2002 FIFA WC. Mr. Warner immediately sent an e-mail to Sepp Blatter when it was announce that the Swiss company ISL, the predecessor to Philippe Blatter?s InFront, had chosen others to serve the Caribbean football fans their daily dose of WC action.

And, according to Andrew Jennings — one e-mail to Sepp Blatter was all it took for Mr. Warner to get the TV rights back.

INVOICE: Here is a part of the ticket order placed by Jack Warner and the CFU in 2010.
INVOICE: Here is a part of the ticket order placed by Jack Warner and the CFU in 2010. Vis mer

In December 2001 Warner?s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) paid approx 25 million NOK to the company JD International — proprietors: Jack Warner and his son Daryan — for the TV rights to the 2002 and 2006 FIFA world cups.

JD could then resell the rights, generating an unknown profit for the Warner family.

- To busy And in February 2007, after an identical transaction, Warner?s JD sold the TV rights for yet two world cups — this time cashing in 20 million USD on the deal:

Now Mr. Warner feared for the future of his TV rights business. Due to Norwegian black market ticket dealers failing to pay their bills.

The CFU confirms that Mr. Warner has received Dagbladet?s questions.

Mr. Warner is said to be too busy to reply.