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 yesterday.
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 cooperation 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”.
It adds that the English bid team’s “culpability is mitigated by the fact these issues were uncovered largely as a result of its cooperation”.
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 US as part of the FBI’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 then FA chairman David 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. 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.
Fifa took the dramatic step of publishing the controversial internal report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process after it was leaked to a German newspaper this week.
It said Fifa president Gianni Infantino and the current members of the Fifa Council had been calling for this move for over a year but had been blocked.
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