No doubt about guilty verdict against Warner – member of FIFA ethics committee

(Trinidad Guardian) Had he not quit his FIFA’s vice-presidential post, Jack Warner would have been found guilty of corruption.

That’s the conclusion of a member of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, Sondre Kaafjord. He insisted the consequences for Warner are the same, as if he had been convicted of corruption—that he is out of football. A report of the committee leaked to the Press Association on Wednesday said there was overwhelming evidence that Warner, who quit all football activities on Monday, prior to a leaked report to  the Association Press which concluded he was “an accessory to corruption.” For his part, Warner has condemned the leak of the report as part of an ongoing “malicious agenda” to destroy the cohesion of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

But Kaafjord’s comments didn’t mirror Warner’s skepticism. “The result is the same as if he had been banned by us—he’s out of football…If we had sentenced him or banned him, the result would have been just the same,” he told the Press Association. “If Warner were to take part in football again, the case will be reopened immediately.” Kaafjord, a former president of the Norway Football Federation, told the Press Association that FIFA had no choice but to drop the investigation once Warner had quit—but confirmed the Ethics Committee’s report’s conclusions and said Warner had agreed to be a witness in the ongoing case against bin Hammam. Meanwhile, Qatari bin Hamman insists there’s no wrongdoing on his part despite the report stating there is “overwhelming evidence” that he used bribery in his presidential campaign.

With Warner’s resignation from FIFA, only bin Hammam stands accused of paying money to delegates of the CFU in exchange for votes at the Fifa presidential election on June 1. The Qatari pulled out of the running for presidency once the allegations of bribery emerged, leaving Sepp Blatter to run and be re-elected, unopposed, for a fourth term. Bin Hammam, 62, will face FIFA Ethics Committe. The allegations arose after bin Hammam entertained members of the CFU on May 10-11 at the Hyatt, Trinidad, during his failed FIFA presidential bid. The report says there is compelling evidence that bin Hammam paid money to CFU delegates and that Warner facilitated these payments. Both Warner and bin Hammam were provisionally suspended on May 29.

“We concluded on May 29 that there was enough reason to suspend him for 30 days…It means that there was a probability that he was guilty,” said Kaafjord. Kaafjord claims Warner had no choice but to quit football as he would have been thrown out of the game for his part in the bribery scandal at FIFA.

“But in judicial language until you are actually found guilty you are presumed to be innocent…That is a basic principle of law,” he said. “We are not entitled to go further with the investigation according to Swiss law —if he is not a member of the association any more we have no right to go further. “But the investigation will continue because bin Hammam is part of the same case and Warner has said he will be a witness in the bin Hammam case.” On Monday, Warner stunned the football fraternity by resigning from his FIFA position, as president of the Caribbean Football Union and as president of Concacaf.

As a result, he was cleared of all bribery allegations and left FIFA “presumed innocent.” However, Kaafjord said the outcome was the same as a ban. Warner had said his resignation from his football posts would allow him to focus on his duties as T&T’s Works and Transport Minister. On Wednesday, Warner pointed out that after his “self-determined resignation,” FIFA discontinued its Ethics Committee procedure with the presumption of maintained innocence. “It is now evident that there are those in a section of the FIFA fraternity who are not only pathologically mendacious, but in the face of FIFA’s stated position and its voluntary recognition of my contribution to world football and by definition to FIFA, will stop at no length to destroy my legacy and destabilise the Caribbean region whose interests I have always vigorously advocated,” he stated.

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