Warner receives lifetime FIFA banZURICH - Four years after stepping down in disgrace, former FIFA vice president Jack Warner was banned from football for life on Tuesday, accused of repeated acts of bribery related to World Cup bidding votes.
Warner, a long-time ally of President Sepp Blatter who was allowed to resign from FIFA in 2011 with his “presumption of innocence” maintained, is currently fighting extradition from Trinidad and Tobago on U.S. charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering.
The decision by the FIFA ethics committee on Tuesday shows that judge Hans-Joachim Eckert will pursue officials long after they have left their jobs.
A more pressing case for the ethics body is an investigation into Blatter, who was interrogated by Swiss prosecutors on Friday in part over allegations he undervalued the awarding of World Cup television rights to Warner. Blatter, who denies wrongdoing, is at risk of being suspended by his own organization.
Warner’s lifetime FIFA ban stems from Eckert’s report on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
As leader of the CONCACAF region from 1990-2011, Warner gained considerable influence in World Cup votes by the FIFA executive committee and now the extent of his wrongdoing has been reinforced by Eckert.
“Mr. Warner was found to have committed many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official in different high-ranking and influential positions at FIFA and CONCACAF,” the FIFA statement said. “In his positions as a football official, he was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes.”
The case highlights how the specter of corruption has hung over FIFA under Blatter’s 17-year presidency.
Former FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon, who hopes to succeed Blatter in February’s election, said Tuesday the leadership crisis is so severe that an emergency task force should be set up to run the game.
With Blatter under criminal investigation and general secretary Jerome Valcke suspended from work and being investigated by the ethics committee, Chung said FIFA is in “total meltdown.”
Among Chung’s potential rivals in the election is UEFA President Michel Platini, who has been questioned as a witness over a payment from FIFA - one of the reasons Blatter was interrogated on Friday by Swiss authorities. Blatter and Platini denied wrongdoing as they await news from the ethics committee, which is looking into the case.
Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber said Tuesday that Platini is being treated as “between a witness and an accused person.”
Lauber said he would raid Platini’s office if necessary to “clear up what’s the real truth.”
The payment under investigation is the 2 million Swiss francs ($2 million) received by Platini in 2011 for work supposedly carried out in his job as a FIFA adviser between 1998 and 2002.
With less than a month to go until he must pass integrity checks to stand in the FIFA presidential election in February, Platini insisted that he doesn’t “fear a [FIFA] suspension because I have done nothing wrong.” AP
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