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FIFA inquiry into Jackís deals

ZAID MOHAMMED Sports Editor Wednesday, September 13 2006

click on pic to zoom in

TRINIDAD and Tobagoís globetrotting FIFA vice-president Jack Warner is the target of a new investigation by the executive of the world football body concerning his role in the sale of tickets on the black market for the World Cup Finals in Germany.

The matter comes up when FIFA meets in Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday after a confidential report by accounting firm Ernst & Young concluded that Warner defied FIFAís rules with respect to the sale of as many as 5,400 World Cup 2006 tickets.

Yesterday the Daily Mail in England reported that Warner and son Daryan cleared a profit of £500,000 on tickets for matches involving England, Mexico and Japan.

Contacted in Zurich, the headquarters of FIFA, spokesman Andreas Herren refused to say how many tickets the Warners ordered or received but confirmed that the matter will be discussed at Fridayís executive committee meeting.

In June during the World Cup, executive committee member Ismail Bhamjee was found selling 12 tickets to England fans and was instantly expelled.

Speculation is rife that Warner is being treated differently by FIFA as he controls 35 crucial votes for the CONCACAF region that help keep president Sepp Blatter in power.

In February Warner was scolded by FIFA for an ethics violation over World Cup ticket sales when his family owned travel agency, Simpaulís was identified as the only company with access to tickets in Trinidad and Tobago which Simpaulís was selling as part of a package tour to Germany which breached the football bodyís laws.

He was later absolved of any wrongdoing after claiming he had severed all ties with Simpaulís Travel Service which is owned by his family.

The Daily Mail report yesterday stated that Simpaulís began operation in June 2005 when they made several deals to sell thousands of World Cup packages to agents around the world.

ďEngland PackagesĒ were sold to David Gambier of the Abingdon-based Sports World Group, guaranteeing 800 tickets for Englandís first round matches. The Daily Mail said another deal was struck with Miami-based Soccer Travel to supply 1,500 tickets for Mexicoís preliminary group matches.

But what raised concerns at FIFAís Ticketing Office in Berlin was an order for 3,000 tickets for Japanís first three matches with hotel rooms booked through Florida-based Kick Sports Inc.

The Daily Mail also reported that the Warners also made a profitable deal to supply £1.7 million worth of hotel rooms in Germany.

Ernst & Young were able to obtain Daryan Warnerís e-mails confirming details of the various deals which were all copied to his father. The world famous accounting firm was tipped off by the Manchester-based Byrom Company, operators of the FIFAís Ticketing Office who were appointed to monitor potentially suspicious deals.

The Daily Mail stated that two Ernst & Young accountants twice interviewed Daryan Warner but he deflected their requests for detailed information required by FIFA - Simpaul contract and said he would refuse to hand over documents.

But what started the last round of scrutiny was when Ernst & Young were called in on June 20 when Swiss travel agent Antonio Gallicchio turned up at FIFAís Berlin Hotel complaining he had not received 100 Euro tickets he was paying 400 euros for.

After thoroughly investigating the matter Ernst & Young concluded that tickets ordered by Jack Warner were transferred or resold into the secondary market in breach of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany Ticketing General Terms and Conditions.

Efforts to contact Warner for a comment on the latest developments were futile as his CONCACAF Office in Port-of-Spain stated that he was out of the country.

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