FIFA report finds England World Cup bid team broke rules when courting Jack Warner

FIFA report finds England World Cup bid team broke rules when courting Jack Warner

The England 2018 World Cup bid team made a determined effort to win over former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and "often accommodated his wishes, in apparent violation of bidding rules", the Garcia report has found.

FIFA's long-awaited report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process was published by the world governing body on Tuesday.

The Football Association had lobbied to bring the World Cup to England in 2018, but was unsuccessful after being eliminated in the first round when receiving only two votes. The tournament went to Russia while Qatar secured the 2022 finals, with both decisions reached on December 2, 2010.

According to the report produced by FIFA's then chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia in 2014, England 2018 "provided full and valuable co-operation in establishing the facts and circumstances of this case" with witnesses made available for interview and documents produced on request.

However, the report also identified "conduct by England 2018 that may not have met the standards set out in the FCE (FIFA code of ethics) or the bid rules".

Michael Garcia.
Michael Garcia.

It adds that the English bid team's "culpability is mitigated by the fact that these issues were uncovered largely as a result of its co-operation".

Warner had been a long-standing member of the FIFA executive committee, but became embroiled in corruption allegations before being provisionally suspended by the FIFA ethics committee, then subsequently arrested and charged in the United States of America as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe into money-laundering.

In 2015, Warner was banned from taking part in any football-related activity for life.

At the time the England 2018 bid was canvasing support, however, the influence of Warner was clear.

The FIFA report states: "According to (England 2018) bid team CEO Andy Anson, Mr Warner was one of three executive committee members - along with Mohamed Bin Hammam and Issa Hayatou - who 'had a disproportion(ate) amount of power in terms of voting. You know, they really did control blocks of votes, and so if you didn't have them backing you, then you really didn't have much of a bid in the first place.'"

The report adds: "Warner sought to exploit that perception of his power, showering England's bid team with inappropriate requests. The bid team often accommodated his wishes, in apparent violation of bidding rules and the FIFA code of ethics."

According to the report, which detailed email exchanges, Warner had asked the then FA chairman Lord Triesman to help Richard Sebro, whom the official said he considered to be his "adopted son", with employment opportunities as the bid team "also kept Mr Warner apprised of their efforts as they solicited his support".

Sebro was eventually found a role at Premier League side Tottenham and then at Wembley.

FIFA report finds England World Cup bid team broke rules when courting Jack Warner

The report stated this connection to Warner had "opened doors" because of his footballing status and also because of "England 2018 officials' willingness to provide the kind of 'personal advantage or opportunity' that Section 11.3 of the Bid Registration agreement and other rules forbade."

Running up to the 2010 vote, Warner again approached the England 2018 bid to help Sebro find "a job in the 'Wolverhampton/West Midlands area' for '20 hours per week' at a 'minimum of 10 pounds per hour" before taking up a position at Aston Villa.

Further email exchanges from David Dein, the international president of England's 2018 World Cup bid and former vice-chairman of Arsenal, to Warner were also revealed, which the Garcia Report said" England 2018 gave the appearance that it sought to confer a personal benefit on Mr Warner in order to influence his vote".

The Garcia report said Warner had also asked England 2018 for "favours and benefits" related to a team he owned in Trinidad & Tobago, Joe Public Football Club.

Whether any benefits were provided is "unclear", but "England football officials appeared willing to do so", according to email correspondence.

Warner also asked for benefits for the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation, which the Garcia report said England 2018 were again "willing to help".

The report stated: "England's response to these improper demands - in at a minimum always seeking to satisfy them in some way - damaged the integrity of the ongoing bidding process."

The ability of Walker to use his status "to obtain benefits was evident to others", the Garcia report concluded.

An email from the Jamaica Football Federation was highlighted, which sought help to "ask the English FA to waive Jamaica debt", stated to be some $215,000 (£168,000).

England 2018's efforts to "curry favour" with Warner also extended to sponsoring a "gala dinner" for the CFU at its congress in Trinidad, the report added.

Warner's budget for the dinner, which saw "160 persons coming from 30 countries" included undefined "tokens" for some £13,636, while "decorations" were costed at £4,645 in a total bill of some £35,608.70.

The report details funds were wired to CFU, first through an "intermediary account in New York" then on to Trinidad.

Anson told the Investigatory Chamber: "We were ultra-careful that that money didn't go to any individual. It went to the Caribbean Football Union's account."

The Court for Arbitration of Sport found during an unrelated investigation in July 2012 "ample evidence that Mr Warner ran a secret USD bank account in which he co-mingled CFU and personal funds".

The report said: "While not a large amount of money compared to other sponsorship agreements...clearly this was a benefit."

Warner was said to have made the request "knowing the pressure that England 2018 would be under to comply because of the ongoing bid".

The report added: "As with Australia, England 2018 bowed to that pressure because of Mr Warner's potential vote and in this way reinforced both Mr Warner's expectations and public concern over the integrity of the bidding process."

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