New FIFA watchdog to investigate ticket scandal

September 14, 2006

FIFA will tomorrow announce that a Briton is to head the world governing body's first independent watchdog - and his first task will be to deal with the World Cup ticket scandal that has engulfed vice-president Jack Warner.

The name of the chairman of the independent ethics commission will be announced by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Zurich.

The appointment of the high-profile figure is aimed to show that FIFA have embraced transparency after years of criticism that their old internal ethics committee was toothless.

The timing is not good for Warner, a FIFA vice-president from Trinidad and Tobago, who this week was revealed to have been identified by FIFA's auditors as being involved in a World Cup ticket scandal.

Warner has been embroiled in similar situations before but until now has always kept his position because under FIFA's statutes only his confederation can remove him - not Blatter and not his fellow executive committee members.

As Warner effectively controls the CONCACAF federation, his position has until now been invulnerable, but could all be set to change.

One FIFA insider said: 'The idea is that the new ethics commission is both independent and has teeth.'

Auditors Ernst & Young traced numerous World Cup tickets bought by Warner as having been quickly re-sold through a Florida-based agency at up to three times their face value.

In their confidential report to FIFA, the accountants say: 'We can confirm that tickets included in orders under customer reference 201498572 (Mr Jack Warner) were transferred or resold into the secondary market in breach of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany ticketing general terms and conditions.'

Warner escaped censure in March despite FIFA ruling he was guilty of a clear conflict of interest.

Warner, a special adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago FA, broke the code of conduct after his family's travel company, Simpaul, secured exclusive rights to sell his country's entire World Cup ticket allocation.

Warner told FIFA that he and his wife had sold their shares in Simpaul and had no idea he had violated any rules.

In the 1980s and 90s Warner obtained FIFA's TV rights for the Caribbean for a pittance and then sold them on to broadcasters.

Meanwhile, UEFA president Lennart Johansson, also a FIFA vice-president, has called for tougher rules to regulate football agents and club ownership.

He said in an interview to be broadcast on BBC Radio Five tonight: 'We should be concerned about the situation with agents, bribery, illegal betting, racism and hooliganism.

'There, rules should be tightened and enforced.'