Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ex-FIFA Executive Says He Got World Cup TV Rights for $1 - BusinessWeek

Former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner said he got the World Cup television rights for Trinidad & Tobago for $1 after helping Sepp Blatter get elected president of the soccer ruling body.

Warner, who quit world soccer’s governing body in June after accusations of bribery, said today in a statement that he got the rights from FIFA in 1998 via a Mexican company and also acquired them for the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 editions. He used the revenue from selling on the rights to develop the sport in the Caribbean, where he’s from, according to the statement.

Warner quit during a FIFA investigation into allegations about him and another vice president, Mohamed Bin Hamman. The pair was accused of giving Caribbean officials $40,000 in cash to gain support for Bin Hammam’s presidential campaign against Blatter. At the time, Warner denied wrongdoing and said he’d been “hung out to dry” after 30 years with FIFA.

Zurich-based FIFA said in an e-mail today “it will look into” Warner’s comments, and the organization’s London-based spokesman Brian Alexander declined to make any immediate response.

FIFA normally sells World Cup television rights directly to broadcasters, or sub-contracts companies to negotiate sales.

Warner said he refused to endorse Blatter in the June election even though he was offered the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup for a nominal fee. He also alleged that he was offered other “inducements” to develop soccer in the region, including relaying turf at a stadium in Trinidad & Tobago and $1 million in grants, according to the statement.

Past Agreements

FIFA rescinded an agreement with International Media Content Ltd.’s SportsMax cable channel to broadcast the 2014 World Cup in the Caribbean after “only recently” becoming aware that a company owned by Warner negotiated the sale on behalf of the regional soccer association, the BBC reported Sept. 8, citing a FIFA letter to the association.

IMC had paid as much as $20 million for the rights to the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, the BBC said.

Hammam withdrew his candidacy in May, and Blatter was re- elected on June 1 as the only candidate. Hammam denies wrongdoing and is appealing a life ban from soccer at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter in October announced plans to reform FIFA, which governs the sport and oversees the World Cup. The soccer showpiece tournament generates about $4 billion in television rights, sponsorship and other income.

--Editors: Christopher Elser, Bob Bensch.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in London at tpanja@bloomberg.net. Alex Duff in Madrid aduff4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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