Of the several current and former FIFA officials indicted by the United State Department of Justice early this morning, one name stands out as arguably the shadiest of the whole bunch: Austin “Jack” Warner. Among other things, Warner is accused of accepting $10 million in bribes to support South Africa’s bid for the 2010 World Cup. He is laughably, shamelessly, unquestionably corrupt. Allegedly. Jack Warner is the Petyr Baelish of world soccer, except somehow less likable.
“I have fought fearlessly against all forms of injustice and corruption.” That is a quote from Warner’s statement released earlier today, in response to what he calls “certain developments in world football.” This would be the point where I would insert the crying laughing emoji, were it not for my strict code of journalistic integrity. The only way that sentence is true is if Warner’s computer auto-corrected “fought fearlessly against” from “perpetuated over several years and become very wealthy through.” Here is a brief explainer on the (allegedly) most corrupt sonofabitch in soccer.
Jack Warner resigned from FIFA, CONCACAF amid allegations of corruption
In a classic case of jumping before he was pushed, Warner resigned from his positions at FIFA and CONCACAF when word started getting out about his, let’s say, questionable practices. He was caught on tape encouraging fellow Caribbean soccer officials to accept “gifts” (definitely not bribes, okay guys?!) of $40,000 from Mohamed Bin Hammam, then a FIFA presidential candidate. Warner himself humbly settled for a cool $1.2 million.
A leaked FIFA Ethics Committee report stated that he was an “accessory to corruption.” FIFA’s investigation into Warner was dropped when he resigned his post, leaving him free from all official responsibilities but not free from that nice, fat pension check that he still receives to this day.
Jack Warner resigned from parliament amid allegations of corruption
For several years, Warner split his time between being a corrupt FIFA official and being a corrupt member of Trinidad & Tobago’s parliament. He was even serving as Minister of Works & Transport when he was forced to resign from FIFA in disgrace. But that little matter didn’t stop him from eventually being made Minister of Defense, and even sometimes serving as Acting Prime Minister.
You can’t help but the admire the man’s moxy; he was found to be too corrupt to help govern a game, so he settled for just governing a country. It was only when the aforementioned video was released that he resigned from the government.
But not to worry. Because Jack Warner has the world’s biggest balls, he formed his own party, ran for election again, and won.
Jack Warner is for the children
Just like Trick Daddy, Jack Warner loves the kids. He loves his own sons so much that he brought them into the family business: corruption. In 2013, both Daryan and Darryl (a former FIFA development officer!) Warner plead guilty to money laundering and wire fraud. They are now facing up to 10 years in prison. Some of these charges are no doubt related to the small fortune that the Warners made from illegally reselling tickets for the 2006 World Cup on the black market, at an eye-watering mark-up.
But Uncle Jack’s love extends beyond his own progeny. Warner loves the children of his home country so much that he secured funds from FIFA and CONCACAF to build a state-of-the-art multi-purpose sport center in Trinidad. Naturally, Warner was the owner of the land on which that center was built and thus profited handsomely from its construction.
Jack Warner is a micro-manager
How else to explain his repeated (alleged) requests, while acting on behalf of either CONCACAF or the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation, for payments to be made to him personally? Like that time he wanted payment for a friendly from the Scottish FA to be deposited into his account. Or that time he suggested that, if England wanted his support for its World Cup bid, it “invest” in Trinidad & Tobago, by way of Warner’s own pocket. Or that time that funds from FIFA intended for earthquake relief in Haiti somehow ended up in an account controlled only by Warner (who had already resigned from FIFA). I’m sure those relief funds will turn up someday. Uncle Jack just needs to learn to delegate better.
Jack Warner will not be extradited any time soon
The good news is that U.S. authorities have requested for Warner to be extradited to face charges of racketeering, money laundering, and corruption. The bad news is that Trinidad & Tobago’s Attorney General is so unbothered that he hasn’t had time to so much as peruse the documents provided, and referred to them dismissively as “bulky,” even through Warner has reportedly turned himself in to authorities.
As disliked as Warner is in his home country, much like in the soccer world, he also has a hand in every pot. No one cares much for Jack Warner, but no one is in a hurry to cross him either. So I wouldn’t hold my breath for a speedy extradition process while he’s out on bail.
Jack Warner is not going to jail
On the off chance he is extradited, there is little chance that Warner sees the inside of the jail cell. First and foremost, decades of collecting bribe money and kickbacks means that he likely has a secret lair full of good doublons somewhere, possibly beneath a volcano. On top of that, as a former long-serving FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president, Warner probably has so much dirt on everyone even remotely involved in any FIFA misdeed of the last 20 years, he should be able to get himself a nice plea deal.
The man’s closet is so full of FIFA’s skeletons that he barely has room to hide all that bribe money. Allegedly.