Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FIFA drops corruption charges against CONCACAF's Warner following resignation

FIFA has shocked the world's football community by dropping corruption procedures against Jack Warner, the suspended Executive Committee member and president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) following his sudden resignation from all positions in international football.

FIFA's official communique stated: "Jack A Warner has informed FIFA about his resignation from his posts in international football. FIFA regrets the turn of events that have led to Mr Warner’s decision.

"His resignation has been accepted by world football’s governing body, and his contribution to international football and to Caribbean football in particular and the CONCACAF confederation are appreciated and acknowledged.

"Mr Warner is leaving FIFA by his own volition after nearly 30 years of service, having chosen to focus on his important work on behalf of the people and government of Trinidad and Tobago as a Cabinet Minister and as the Chairman of the United National Congress, the major party in his country’s coalition government.

"The FIFA Executive Committee, the FIFA President and the FIFA management thank Mr Warner for his services to Caribbean, CONCACAF and international football over his many years devoted to football at both regional and international level, and wish him well for the future.

"As a consequence of Mr Warner’s self-determined resignation, all Ethics Committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained."

The FIFA Ethics Committee had early ruled that Warner and fellow EXCO member, Mohamed Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation, had to step down pending investigations into allegations that they had colluded to offer $40,000 cash bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union in exchange for their voting for Bin Hammam in the FIFA presidency election.

Commented Owen Gibson, Guardian sports news correspondent, via Twitter: "Suspicion was always that Warner would ditch his FIFA role in a bid to save his political hide back home. And so it seems to have proved." Paul Kels, the Daily Telegraph chief sports reporter, reminded, also by Twitter, that "Warner was under significant political pressure in Trinidad with police requesting details of FIFA investigation."

However, Mr Warner appeared to have planned a counter case against FIFA and its re-elected president, Seth Blatter, to coincide with his resignation. Interviewed by Tariq Panja of Bloomberg news agency, he said he'd lost his enthusiasm to continue in football administration because of betrayal: "The general secretary that I had employed, who worked with me for 21 years, with the assistance of elements of FIFA has sought to undermine me in ways that are unimaginable ... I've been hung out to dry continually and I’m not prepared to take that.”

Reflecting on the FIFA presidential election, he appeared to pin his demise on opposing Blatter's candidacy: “I told Mr. Blatter in an e-mail that Mr Bin Hammam doesn’t have a chance . I told Mr Blatter also that I would ask Mr Bin Hammam to withdraw. I told him he has Concacaf support. Had we announced in Miami, Concacaf support for Mr Blatter, all this would never have happened.”

He also argued that not only hadn't he been around when the cash was said to have been handed to Caribbean football delegations, gift-giving has been part of FIFA culture during the near 30 years he's been associated with the organisation. “It’s not unusual for such things to happen and gifts have been around throughout the history of FIFA,” he said. “What’s happening now for me is hypocrisy.”

The FIFA Ethics Commission inquiry is now expected to continue with the examination of Mr Bin Hammam's role.

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