Sat, Feb

FIFA vice-president Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) special advisor Jack Warner has an appointment with FIFA's Committee for Ethics and Fair Play in February to discuss his involvement with the country's World Cup ticket sales.

The FIFA Media Department insisted that the meeting was arranged on the initiative of Warner. However, Warner's decision to inform the world organising body for football of his business ventures within the game came after FIFA declared an intention to have "potential conflicts of interest in relation to any ticketing constituent groups"investigated by "independent external auditors" Ernst & Young.

In another development, FIFA, after an e-mailed request for information, denied that the $30 million (6 million Swiss Francs) pay out to the T&TFF after the 2006 World Cup tournament in Germany is subject to tax by the host nation.

The German Organising Committee (OC) confirmed that its government issued a tax exemption to FIFA as far back as 1999.

It means that the T&TFF had incorrectly expected to receive $7.9 million (1.56 million Swiss Francs) less than was its due for competing at the prestigious tournament. Apart from the $30 million bounty, the "Soca Warriors" should have already received $5 million (1 million Swiss Francs) to aid the team's preparation for the World Cup.

Warner, at a January 3, 2006 press conference, explained that the T&TFF's appearance fee would be subject to a 21 per cent tax plus a five percent fee for insurance purposes. By this formula, the T&TFF would have expected to receive roughly $22.2 million (4.44 million Swiss Franc) although Warner calculated the pay out at "a little more than three million (Swiss Francs)".

"The (Trinidad and Tobago. "The fact is the German government taxes 21 per cent of the money. Then, they take five per cent for insurance and therefore what you get in your hand is 74 per cent."

Warner became testy when asked by the Trinidad Express why FIFA, whose headquarters is based in the tax haven of Switzerland, would allow its money to be taxed. "The money is in Germany," said Warner, "t is made in Germany, it is paid in Germany". Jesus Christ!"

However, the German OC denied Warner's claim that its government would tax any of the money payable to the tournament's 32 participating teams.

Seven years ago, the then German Finance Minister Oskar LaFontaine signed the tax exemption that was believed to be a key component of the German bid to host the tournament in 2006.

Gerd Grauss, press spokesman for the German OC, explained that the host nation invoked a clause in its income tax law which allows the 'fiscal authorities' to 'renounce the taxation of the income of foreigners (natural persons or also legal entities) completely or partially, if this is appropriate for economical reasons"..

"The (respective football) federation is tax exempt," said Grauss, via e-mail correspondence through the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. "If Brazil becomes world champion, the income of the Brazilian federation is not subject to German income tax and/or corporation tax.

The income of the players-i.e. the payments of the Brazilian soccer federation to the players-is free of income tax against it in Germany." FIFA media chief Andre as Herren confirmed that the T&TFF will not pay tax on its appearance money. Herren did explain, though, that there would be a 21 per cent tax on World Cup premiums paid out to players while five per cent would be held for insurance until after the competition.