FIFA vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) special adviser Jack Warner could be fighting for his football career after being found guilty of breaching FIFA's Code of Ethics.
FIFA, the world organising body for football, ruled through its Committee for Ethics and Fair Play on Wednesday that Warner, one of seven FIFA vice-presidents, breached its code as a result of his exclusive sale of 2006 World Cup tickets, which was deemed to be a conflict of interests.
The initial monopoly of Trinidad and Tobago's 2006 World Cup tickets by Warner's family company, Simpaul Travel Services, and his influential role within the T&TFF was the subject of an exclusive three-part series by the Express on December 25, 26 and 27, 2005 and was subsequently picked up by the world press and FIFA.
The FIFA Media Department declared that Warner, a local football administrator for over three decades, had gone too far.
The Committee for Ethics and Fair Play concluded that because of his involvement with Simpaul Travel Service in Port of Spain,"FIFA vice-president Jack A. Warner has a conflict of interest with regard to ticketing for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and as a result, he has violated FIFA's Code of Ethics," A FIFA press release stated.
The FIFA Executive Committee will decide on a penalty on March 16-17 and, according to its own statutes, could expel Warner from FIFA.
Section three of the FIFA Code of Ethics governing "Eligibility for and removal from office" states:
"Only persons with the highest ethical principles who are willing to be bound by this Code without reservation may serve as an Official or a member of a body. Anyone who does not fulfill or ceases to fulfil these conditions shall be deemed ineligible to serve as an Official or a member of a body and, if already in office, shall be relieved of that position.
"The same applies to persons convicted of an offence that calls into question their ability to discharge their duties. Prior to being elected or appointed as an Official or a member of a body, all persons must automatically declare any interests they have that may interfere with their duties."
If FIFA invokes this clause, Warner could have the ignominy of being the first FIFA vice-president to be expelled. Already, the United National Congress (UNC) deputy political leader is the first FIFA official to be found guilty by the organisation's Code of Ethics.
Warner's cellular phone was switched off when the Express tried to contact him for comment yesterday.
T&TFF president Oliver Camps, who sold Simpaul Travel the rights to act as the local association's authorised ticket seller, maintained his silence on the matter.
"I have no comment to make at this time," said Camps yesterday.
Warner, who met with the FIFA Ethics and Fair Play Committee on his own initiative, was joined before the Committee by Turkey coach Fatih Terim. Turkey was penalised for its part in a mass brawl in its final World Cup qualifying match against Switzerland.
However, FIFA decided not to impose further sanction on Terim. Warner, who initially denied all accusations of a possible conflict of interest, did not get off so easily.
Next month, Warner will learn the extent of his punishment.