Though it appeared as business as usual for the minister yesterday, a pensive-looking Warner remained silent over allegations that have triggered a hearing of FIFA’s ethics committee at Zurich on Sunday.
On Wednesday, he said he was not aware of any wrongdoing and said he would not comment further until the full details of the allegations were laid before him.
Warner, however, appeared at a photo-opportunity and press conference alongside Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the signing of the formal share agreement between Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) and Air Jamaica which was held at the Office of the Prime Minister at St Clair. However, he did not field questions and did not stay for a press briefing held after the photo opportunity. The Prime Minister also left the event to attend a meeting.
On Wednesday, Warner denied allegations that he had acted improperly in relation to a trip to this country by FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed Bin Hammam. The bribery allegations, reported on May 24, by CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer to FIFA, have come on the eve of Bin Hammam’s bid to oust Sepp Blatter as FIFA president. Warner has in the past endorsed Blatter, who is seeking a fourth term in June 1 elections. This time around he has not publicly endorsed Blatter. Warner is CONCACAF president and a FIFA vice-president.
Public Utilities Minister Emmanuel George will act as Works and Transport Minister during Warner’s trip to Switzerland.
The UK’s Telegraph newspaper yesterday published what it said were details of the allegations against Warner.
According to the paper, Warner will be accused of offering $40,000 cash to national football associations when he appears before the ethics committee hearing on Sunday.
“The cash offers are alleged to have been made at a specially convened meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) on May 10-11 in Trinidad, Warner’s home country. The meeting was arranged by Warner and Bin Hammam to allow the Qatari to address members of the CFU as part of his presidential campaign,” the Telegraph reported.
“It is understood that Blazer’s report alleges that Warner, on behalf of Bin Hammam, offered members of the Caribbean Football Union $40,000 (?25,000) in cash as ‘gifts’ and ‘development projects’, and that it was implied that the money was in return for votes in the presidential election.”
“It is alleged that the approaches were made in private meetings with Warner and that all 25 members of the CFU with a vote in the presidential election may have been approached.”
“The report was prepared on Blazer’s behalf by John Collins, a former federal prosecutor and partner in the Chicago legal firm Collins and Collins, after he was approached by CFU members reportedly outraged at the approaches. Collins is a member of FIFA’s legal committee.
Warner on Wednesday said he did not know the details of the case against him but said he was “not aware of any wrongdoing”.
Another UK newspaper, The Guardian, raised questions over a link between the allegations to Blatter.
The paper quoted an anonymous source as saying, “My view is he (Blatter) has counted the votes and he has got desperate, pulling the plug on Bin Hammam and using (the US member of Fifa’s executive committee) Chuck Blazer to do it.”
Blatter, however, denied any role saying he was taking no pleasure in the current issue.
Writing for the Inside World Football website, he stated, “I take absolutely no joy in seeing my friends and colleagues of many years dragged before the ethics committee. I take no joy to see men who stood by my side for some two decades, suffer through public humiliation without having been convicted of any wrongdoing.”
“Nobody is guilty until a judge has found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” he added.
The BBC yesterday published a report on an older allegation against Warner which is subject to a separate FIFA inquiry.
In relation to an allegation by the former head of the UK’s Football Association (FA) Lord Triesman, the BBC published an email from Warner to Triesman, who this month claimed before a UK Parliament committee that Warner had asked the FA to build a school at Chaguanas and to pay for Haiti World Cup broadcast licensing fees.
The BBC published Warner’s response but it did not publish the email from Triesman which Warner was responding to. Triesman led the UK’s failed bid for the 2022 World Cup. In the email, Warner appears to respond to a suggestion made by Triesman.
“My apologies for this belated response to your wonderful offer of assistance to Haiti for which I am really pleased,” Warner writes.
“The people need all the help that we can give. I made a visit to Haiti last weekend to meet with the President of the Haiti FF to ascertain first hand the needs of our football family.
“A report has since been done which outlined their needs and proposals to meet these needs in the short, medium and long term. The report is included for your information.”
“Based on this, I will leave it up to you to determine the best options of the FA as to how you all can assist. The FIFA, besides financial assistance, is providing them with large TV screens placed at two football stadia (at which stadia football can no longer be played in the immediate future) so that all Haitians can see the 2010 World Cup.”
“However before the earthquake owner of the rights had charged them $1.6million USD for the rights, a fee which they had agreed to pay. I have since spoken to the owners and can get this figure reduced substantially,” Warner said. “If you believe that you can assist them in any way by contributing in part or in whole to the purchase of these rights I am sure all of Haiti will be eternally grateful. Thanks again for any assistance you can give and I do look forward to hearing from you soon.”