An enthused Warner yesterday hit the FIFA Ethics Committee as a “kangaroo court” and told reporters in Zurich, Switzerland, that FIFA president Sepp Blatter “must be stopped”.
FIFA yesterday firmly accepted the exoneration of Warner over the UK bid.
However, Warner remains suspended over allegations of offering US$40,000 each in bribes to Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials visiting Trinidad on May 10 and 11 to vote for Qatar’s Mohamed bin Hammam’s bid to become FIFA president.
Bin Hammam was also suspended and has since withdrawn his candidacy to challenge Blatter, the incumbent, in tomorrow’s polls. However, Bin Hammam yesterday said he would appeal his suspension.
Details of the CFU bribery allegations emerged on Sunday, with the BBC website reporting Puerto Rico returned its money to FIFA, while yesterday the British Guardian carried a photo of a brown envelope and stacks of US$100 notes which it alleged were offered to the Bahamas Football Association on May 10 at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad after a presentation by Bin Hammam. The Guardian said Bahamas FA vice president, Fred Lunn, was told not to take the money, by a text message from Bahamas FA president, Anton Sealey.
Amid the claims and counter-claims in the CFU matter, came good news for Warner.
It was reported yesterday that a probe for the UK Football Association (FA) by James Dingemans QC cleared Warner (and three other FIFA top officials) of the charges of “improper and unethical” conduct over the UK’s bid, as alleged in the House of Commons by former FA head, Lord David Triesman.
“All four are completely clean,” said FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, in Zurich yesterday, reported the BBC. “I have just got the FA report and I hope FIFA will agree to make it public because all the people here are completely clean of all the allegations made by David Triesman a few weeks ago.”
Valcke said UK Premier League head, Sir David Richards, had disputed Triesman’s account, adding, “Dave Richards has not said he heard Jack Warner ask for money in his presence, or ask for funds to be channelled through him.”
In a statement issued yesterday, Warner said the FIFA Ethics Committee should take a page from the book of the independent investigator.
“Today, I regained some hope in the power of truth and transparency,” he said.
“The report of the independent investigator on the allegations of Lord Triesman has proven once again that whenever the truth is told, people will always be able to have their names exonerated.” The report, he said, confirmed his stance against what he called “fallacious and malicious allegations”.
Warner said he would have been more freely able to fight a conspiracy waged against him, if confidentiality agreements had not debarred certain people from revealing their full knowledge regarding the source of the allegations against him.
“Lord Triesman, like those who continue to malign my name with these allegations of bribery, will see their efforts come to futility because I remain resolute in the truth that I have done nothing wrong,” said Warner.
“It should be instructive to the FIFA Ethics Committee as to just how independent enquiries should be conducted. The abuse of power that it exhibited in its hearing is a far cry from what such a body should be exhibiting.”
He said it must have pained FIFA’s Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke to have read the report that cleared him. “But the fact which cannot be changed is as Valcke declared ‘all four are completely clean’,” said Warner, referring to himself, Nicolas Leoz (Paraguay), Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil) and Worawi Makudi (Thailand).“It is because of this complete cleanness why Sir Dave Richards, who is no friend of mine, can say truthfully that he has never heard me ask for money or ask for funds to be channelled through me.”
Coincidentally, Valcke sat on the very FIFA Ethics Committee which suspended Warner over the CFU allegations pending a full inquiry.
Earlier in Zurich yesterday, a furious Warner hit the Ethics Committee and made allegations of his own against Valcke which sparked accusations and denials over Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup bid.
Warner quoted an e-mail from Valcke which alleged that bin Hamman had bought the World Cup for Qatar and now wants to buy FIFA, in what Warner said was Valcke’s allusion that bin Hamman pays bribes. See page 36A
Warner told reporters, “You don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to like me. Nobody here has to eat with me, sleep with me or drink with me, but Jesus Christ, take the truth when you see it.”
Warner then accused the Ethics Committee of being a kangaroo court, saying the “accused” had never been able to face his “accuser”.
“Blatter has to be stopped. He has now Blazer as his ally — Blazer who has never spoken to me, never called a meeting of the Executive Committee.”
Chuck Blazer, the American secretary of CONCACAF, was the one who made the complaint to FIFA over the CFU bribery claims.
Blazer has now found himself the subject of inquiry by CONCACAF for hiring an American law firm to investigate the CFU allegations without reporting to the CONCACAF executive. Warner is the president of CONCACAF, but has stepped aside from the position due to the FIFA suspension.
Warner’s communications officials issued a statement from CONCACAF acting president, Lisle Austin, in which the claims against Blazer are addressed.
The statement said, “Austin, who is CONCACAF’s Senior Vice President was elevated to the position this morning (yesterday) following the controversial suspension of Jack Warner by the FIFA Ethics Committee yesterday (Sunday) afternoon.”
Austin, said the statement, is demanding an explanation from Blazer, as to who authorised Blazer to hire the law firm, Collins and Collins, to probe Warner. The statement said only the CONCACAF Executive Committee may authorise the hiring of the law firm, which has since been fired.