Sat, Jul

FIFA, the world governing body for football, continues to distance itself from the business dealings of its own vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) president Jack Warner after revealing that Simpaul's Travel Company's 2006 World Cup ticket package was improper according to its guidelines.

Simpaul's Travel-which is owned by Warner, his wife, Maureen, and sons, Daryan and Darryl-is offering a World Cup package including match tickets but exclusive of airfare for $30,000 each. Its advertisement reads "Ticket or leave it".

However, FIFA press officer John Schumacher said that Simpaul's package might be improper according to laws governing ticket issued to Participating Member Associations (PMA) like Trinidad and Tobago.

"Packaging tickets with other services is not permitted," said Schumacher, via e-mail.

This is addressed in Article 3.7 of Exhibit B (FIFA Regulations relating to Tickets) of the Participating Member Association (PMA) Ticketing Allocation Agreement (TAA), which states:

"Tickets may not be sold as a part of a package, or made available on the condition that other product(s) and/or service(s), including without limitation, catering, accommodation and/or transportation, are also purchased."

Schumacher explained that newly appointed auditors, Ernst & Young, would investigate to ensure "transparency and correctness in all aspects of FIFA World Cup ticketing".

"It would be premature to speculate as to any disciplinary actions concerned with breaches of the TAAs," wrote Schumacher, "as we in the Media Department are not in a position to pre-judge something that would be a matter for the relevant body to decide upon, after careful consideration of all the facts."

The FIFA Media Department refuted the claim by Warner that the T&TFF did know how many tickets they were allocated for local fans wishing to attend matches at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

"At this point in time, no one in T&T really knows, except perhaps a creature called Liburd who in T&T will get World Cup tickets, what quantity they will receive or the criteria which will be used in the determination of ticket allocation," Warner said at a press conference on January 3, 2006.

FIFA insisted that the T&TFF have known otherwise for the past three months.

"The Participating Member Associations (PMAs) received the Ticketing Allocation Agreement (TAA) in November 2005," wrote Schumacher.

Andreas Herren, the head of FIFA's media department, also denied the assertion by T&TFF press officer Shaun Fuentes that I was blacklisted by FIFA or that the international body played any role in denying accreditation.

"We've been advised by FIFA that (Liburd) would not be accredited to FIFA tournaments," Fuentes told the Express on Thursday. "Apparently he's in their black book, I can't say for sure."

Herren admitted that English writer Andrew Jennings was declared "persona non grata" after "various allegations levelled at FIFA and its President". But he insisted that FIFA has not made any such decision as regarding any other writer.

"Please note that FIFA does not have a black book nor ever had one," said Herren, via e-mail. "One journalist (Andrew Jennings whom as I understand you know) was declared persona non grata for FIFA events a few years ago...Otherwise, all journalists and photographers are eligible to apply for accreditation in accordance with the procedures...

"FIFA does not at all make the call to which journalist/photographer the accreditations are allotted nor do we issue any advice in this respect to the associations."