Jack Warner: Arrested ex-FIFA official cites Onion article to defend himself.

Arrested Ex-FIFA Official Cites Onion Article to Defend Himself

Arrested Ex-FIFA Official Cites Onion Article to Defend Himself

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May 31 2015 10:07 PM

Arrested Ex-FIFA Official Cites Onion Article to Defend Himself

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Jack Warner’s efforts to defend himself were likely destined for failure. After all, the former FIFA vice-president hardly had a pristine name to begin with. He stepped down from the organization in 2011 after being implicated in numerous corruption allegations, which is why few were surprised when he was arrested last week on corruption charges relating to the criminal investigation launched by the U.S. Justice Department. Still, Warner decided to publish a video to defend himself and thank his supporters. It all quickly took a turn to the hilarious when he used an article from the Onion to defend the good names of the international soccer organization and its president, Sepp Blatter.

The article, under the headline “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States,” was an obvious bit of satire that claimed the soccer organization had launched a tournament in the United States the very same day the arrests took place. For the leader of Trinidad’s Independent and Liberal Party though, it was proof that the United States had launched the investigation because it was upset about losing a bid to host the World Cup. He even held up the article at one point:

“After all of these accusations, the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, has been reelected for a fifth consecutive term. If I was so bad, and if FIFA is so bad, how come the head of FIFA is not? 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. If FIFA is so bad, why is it that the USA wants to keep the FIFA World Cup? Why is it that we have games on May 27th, two days before FIFA election? Why is it the U.S. authorities sought to embarrass FIFA in Zurich? Something has to be wrong.
I made the point to you over and over that all this thing has stemmed from the failed U.S. bid to host the World Cup.”

Let’s give him some credit. At one point he does say “something has to be wrong” (although the bit about the "Olympic final" is more than a little odd) but it really is stupefying that someone who was at FIFA for almost three decades can think the article was accurate. Forget about planning a World Cup in less than a day, how about the article’s final sentence? “At press time, the U.S. national team was leading defending champions Germany in the World Cup’s opening match after being awarded 12 penalties in the game’s first three minutes.”

Yet apparently it took the quick mockery on social media for Warner and his people to detect the mistake.

“After Mr. Warner’s error in mistaking the Onion for a news source was mocked on social networks, the video disappeared without explanation from his website and social media accounts,” notes the New York Times. The full video is available here.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.