The FA could come under investigation

The FA could come under investigation

By Mark Baber

The FBI have targeted the English FA for investigation in the latest twist to the corruption and bribery scandal to hit FIFA.

Reports in the English press claim an FBI probe into operations of the FA is looming following revelations of a lavish reception handed former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner in a trip to Prince Charles? home and an alleged ?135,000 sweetener.

An article in the Sunday edition of Daily Mail focuses on Warner?s trip to England in April 2000 where the Caribbean power-broker ?with three vital CONCACAF votes in his pocket? was guest of honour at Old Trafford as United beat Chelsea 3-2, treated to a lavish government dinner in his honour hosted by Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and a sight-seeing trip around London by helicopter with Sports Minister Tony Banks.

Relations were so warm between Warner and the FA that they ?resulted in the signing and issue of a declaration of intent under which the FA, over a five-year period, would extend further help with the development of football in the Caribbean and Central America.?

According to the paper: ?The precise cost of this initiative is not public, nor have the FA been able to put a figure on it. It is not itemised in FA accounts. It is estimated at somewhere between hundreds of thousands of pounds and low millions.?

It is interesting that one of the major schemes the US DOJ definitely has in its sights is an apparently similar scheme involving South Africa and Warner, although whether the US investigators would really be interested in investigating possible corruption involving such a close geo-political ally as England remains to be seen.

One ?former high-ranking FA insider? told the paper: ?I know the FBI are going to come after us. It?s just a matter of time.? Another anonymous source, said they expect the issue to be ?an embarrassment to the FA rather than a major problem.? It would also be a political embarrassment for the government.

Outlining a long history of royal and footballing links the paper says: ?The reality is that Warner has been receiving favours from the FA for almost two decades, and for much of that period the FA regarded him as an ally, even a confidant and sounding board.?

As Michael Garcia?s report made clear, England?s World Cup bid, particularly under disgraced bid leader and FA chairman Lord David Treismann (he retains his seat in the House of Lords), ?often accommodated Mr Warner?s wishes in World Cup pursuit? using royalty and past footballing greats and paying for functions to curry favour.

Whilst the outspoken Dyke slams FIFA?s corruption and tries to use the crisis to increase the power of the FA within world football, and MPs and the Culture Secretary line up to offer England as an alternative venue in 2018 and 2022, many people in football have not forgotten some of England?s more embarrassing gaffes, such as the gift of ?230 Mulberry handbags to the wives of FIFA executive committee members, which created such unwelcome publicity even Jack Warner returned the one given to his wife as ?a symbol of derision, betrayal and embarrassment for me and my family.?

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