Jack Warner’s videotaped defense of himself was pretty weak to begin with. But the ex-FIFA official certainly didn’t help himself by citing an article from The Onion.
Warner had been vice president of FIFA, but he left the organization in 2011 after a bribery scandal, one that forms the basis for some of the charges against him as part of a U.S.-led crackdown on soccer’s international governing body. Warner, now a member of Parliament in Trinidad, was among a number of current and former FIFA officials arrested last week for alleged corruption; he was detained by authorities in that country on behalf of the U.S. and released on bail.
On Sunday, Warner released a video in which he raised questions about why he had been singled out, and he accused the U.S. of being, essentially, a sore loser after seeing Qatar beat out its bid for the 2022 World Cup. But first, the 72-year-old began by thanking those who had supported him through this difficult time, including Trinidadan prison officials and “Ann-Marie, who sent me breakfast on Thursday morning.”
Then Warner got down to business, asking how he could be “responsible for any perceived culture of FIFA.” After all, he former second-in-command pointed out, that organization is 100 years old — and he only joined it 30 years ago. Plus, he noted, the country he comes from is a really small one.
Warner went on to wonder how it was that “after all of these accusations, the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, has been re-elected for a fifth consecutive term.” He asked, “If I was so bad, and if FIFA is so bad, how come the head of FIFA is not?”
Presumably that had plenty of folks yelling at their monitors that, indeed, Blatter is so bad, but the real show-stopper was about to begin. Warner produced a printout of an article, saying, “And then I look to see that FIFA has ‘frantically’ announced 2015 — 2015, this year — this year, Olympic final, and the World Cup begins May 27.”
Unfortunately for Warner, the article he was displaying was one from the Onion, which (for anyone else not in the know) is a satirical newspaper. In other words, it publishes fake news, strictly for laughs. This article was titled, “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States,” and the fact that there’s no mention of the Olympics in it was just the least of the things Warner got wrong.
The ex-official, pointing to the article, asked, “If FIFA is so bad, why is it the USA wants to keep the FIFA World Cup? Why is it, they began games on May 27 — May 27, two days before [Blatter’s re-election]?”
Okay. Just to take the Onion article at face value for one moment, it is an account of Blatter and FIFA, desperate to curry favor with the U.S. and get it off their backs, awarding a World Cup to that country which not only began right away, but already featured the U.S. leading defending champion Germany “after being awarded 12 penalties in the game’s first three minutes.”
Warner goes on to say that “something has to be wrong,” but that’s about the only thing he gets right. The most plausible explanation is that someone simply handed him the printout and described the article in general terms, and Warner — possibly being used to not asking questions about pieces of paper pressed into his hand — just went with it.
He goes on to say that after losing out to Qatar, “a small country, an Arabic country, a Muslim country” (also a very wealthy country, which Warner failed to mention), American authorities should “take [their] losses like a man, and go.” But Warner’s performance didn’t exactly constitute the great victory he may have envisioned.
Warner’s team quickly deleted the video, once it began getting clowned for the Onion article, and replaced it with a shorter, slightly less ludicrous version. But the original video can be seen here, because anything that hilarious, much like the trouble in which Warner finds himself, isn’t just going to disappear.