With billions of dollars at stake, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa
jockeyed in 2004 for the privilege of hosting soccer’s most
prestigious tournament, the World Cup. The outcome hinged on a
decision by the executive committee of FIFA, soccer’s governing
body, and a single vote could tip the decision.
And at least one vote, prosecutors said Wednesday, was for sale.
Jack Warner, a committee member from Trinidad and Tobago, shopped
his ballot to the highest bidder, federal prosecutors said. In
early 2004, he flew to Morocco, where a member of that country’s
bid committee offered him $1 million. But South Africa had a
sweeter deal, offering $10 million to a group that Mr. Warner
controlled, prosecutors said. He voted for South Africa. South
Africa got the World Cup. And Mr. Warner got his $10 million
payout, much of which prosecutors said he diverted for his
There’s a certain irony in this case being pursued by the government of the United States — one of the least soccer-crazed nations on the planet. Absolutely jaw-dropping tale of corruption. Really makes me wonder about whether matches were fixed, too.