Robert Mackey, New York Times, June 1, 2015
Jack Warner, a former vice president of world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, defended himself against corruption charges on Sunday by citing an article from The Onion, apparently unaware that it was satire.
Mr. Warner, 72, who was arrested last week in connection with a wide-ranging criminal investigation by the United States Justice Department, held up the faux news report, calling it evidence of an American conspiracy, in a video statement that was uploaded to the web and then removed later in the day.
The satirical article, published Wednesday under the headline, “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup in the United States,” mockingly suggested that, to placate American officials, the governing body had added a new tournament, which would begin the very same day.
Holding up a printout of The Onion piece as it were a genuine news report, Mr. Warner told viewers of the video posted on his personal website, Facebook page and YouTube channel, “All this has stemmed from the failed U.S. bid to host the World Cup.”
Mr. Warner, the leader of Trinidad’s Independent and Liberal Party, went on to suggest that American officials were primarily motivated by losing a bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
“The U.S. applied to hold the World Cup in 2022 and they lost the bid to Qatar–a small country, an Arabic country, a Muslim country,” he said.
“I could understand the U.S. embarrassment,” Mr. Warner continued, but it is important, he added, to “take your losses like a man.”
As dramatic background music swelled, he went on, holding up The Onion article again, to accuse the United States of hypocrisy for accepting the right to host the (entirely fictional) “Summer World Cup, 2015, from the very same organization that they are accusing of being corrupt. That has to be double standards.”