Former Fifa vice president Jack Warner, who was arrested last week on corruption charges by the US Justice Department, attempted to defend himself against those allegations on 31 May by citing an article from satirical website The Onion.
The 72-year-old used the satirical article as evidence of an American conspiracy in a video statement uploaded to various social media sites, The New York Times reported. Warner later had the video removed from his personal website, Facebook page and YouTube channel and replaced by an edited video.
The Onion article, entitled "Fifa Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup in the United States," stated Fifa attempted to placate American officials by adding a new tournament that would begin on 27 May, the day the article was published.
"With world-class venues in cities across the country and a rapidly growing passion for the sport, the U.S. is the perfect choice — really the only choice — for this summer's tournament. Everyone at Fifa is certain that the 2015 World Cup in America will be a tremendous success, and billions of fans from around the world will, in just a few hours, come together to enjoy this wonderful display of soccer over the coming weeks," the article mockingly quoted Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
According to the Times, Warner held a printout of the faux article during the video and claimed the corruption charges "stemmed from the failed US bid to host the World Cup." The leader of Trinidad's Independent and Liberal Party also suggested that the US was motivated by 2022 World Cup bid loss.
"The US applied to hold the World Cup in 2022 and they lost the bid to Qatar — a small country, an Arabic country, a Muslim country," Warner said. "I could understand the US embarrassment," he added, but said the US should "take your losses like a man."
Warner maintains his innocence
The Times reported Warner went a step further by alleging the US wanted "Russia to give up the World Cup". Russia, which has heavily criticised the US for indicting 14 Fifa officials, will be hosting the 2018 World Cup. He also accused the US of hypocrisy for accepting the fictional "Summer World Cup".
Warner ended his video statement by thanking his supporters, adding: "At the end of the day, all of the allegations against me shall be proven to be unfounded."
The video was later taken down from Warner's website and social media accounts, the New York Times reported. It was later replaced by edited version that removed all references to The Onion.
Warner was charged with: one count racketeering conspiracy; two counts of wire fraud conspiracy; one count of wire fraud; two counts of money laundering conspiracy; and one count of money laundering.