BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Embattled ex-football executive Jack Warner has hit back at international media reports which claimed yesterday that FIFA’s ethics committee had found compelling evidence against him following an investigation into bribery allegations.
Warner, who quit his FIFA, CONCACAF and Caribbean Football Union posts on Monday as the scandal raged on, said the reports were another attempt to malign his character.
Quoting findings from FIFA’s ethics committee, the London Daily Telegraph said there was enough evidence to suggest that Warner had been “an accessory to corruption”, amidst allegations he and Mohamed bin Hammam had offered bribes to CFU countries in a cash-for-vote scandal leading up to FIFA’s presidential election on June 1.
“The comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming evidence permits to conclude prima facie that the accused [Warner] has initiated and arranged a special meeting of the CFU member associations for Mr Bin Hammam,” the Telegraph quoted the report as saying.
“Furthermore, on the occasion of this meeting it seems Mr Bin Hammam offered, at least indirectly and under the pledge of secrecy, to each of the member associations an envelope containing USD 40 000.
“The FIFA ethics committee is of the primary opinion that the accused [Warner] had knowledge of the respective payments and condoned them.
“It seems quite likely that the accused [Warner] contributed himself to the relevant actions, thereby acting as an accessory to corruption.
“Therefore it appears rather compelling to consider the actions of Mr Bin Hammam constitute prima facie an act of bribery, or at least an attempt to commit bribery.”
Warner said he was aware of a preliminary investigation report but had not actually seen a copy, and suggested that it was being used in a “malicious” manner.
The former football strongman also argued that with investigations still ongoing, the report being circulated was not the ethics committee’s final report.
“I can only therefore conclude that this development is part of an ongoing malicious agenda to destroy the cohesion which has made the Caribbean Football Union a factor to be reckoned with in FIFA affairs; and thus diminish CFU’s significance in various areas of FIFA decision making,” Warner said in a statement yesterday.
“In announcing my self determined resignation from the positions I held in world football, FIFA confirmed that its Ethics Committee procedures of which I was a subject had been discontinued.
“In its statement, FIFA took pains to emphasize that the presumption of my innocence is maintained.
“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 destabilize the Caribbean region whose interests I have always vigorously advocated.”
He added: “As far as I have been able to establish, the purported FIFA Ethics Committee report which is being scurrilously circulated is merely a summary of the considerations on which the FIFA Ethics Committee decided on provisional suspensions and its call for a full hearing involving the subjects of the allegations on bid rigging.”
Warner and former FIFA presidential candidate bin Hammam were suspended last month pending investigations into allegations they had offered US$40 000 to CFU national associations at a meeting in Trinidad on May 10 and 11, in return for their votes in the FIFA presidential election on June 1.
A government minister, Warner protested his innocence and vowed to unleash a “football tsunami” on the footballing world.
He shockingly resigned as his post as a FIFA vice-president on Monday, claiming that while he would have been exonerated in any fair investigation, he wanted to spare the football fraternity continued division.
Warner yesterday again vowed to defend himself and the Caribbean against vicious attacks.
“Despite the attacks of division neither the Caribbean nor I will allow all that we stand for to be destroyed,” he stressed.
“I expect that these vicious attacks will continue but I will confront them head on every time they arise. Let me once again reiterate for the sake of those with hidden agendas; I, Jack Warner did not partake in the distribution of any cash gifts to my members.”