The former FIFA vice-president is currently on bail in Trinidad after being one of the people indicted by US authorities over allegations of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies spanning 24 years.
American whistleblower Chuck Blazer has said he and others took bribes totalling 10million US dollars for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup and an undisclosed sum for Morocco’s unsuccessful bid to host the 1998 tournament, sworn testimony which is contained in a plea bargain published by the US Department of Justice.
The South African Football Association has denied the claims and is angered by the reports and believes they tarnish both the reputation of the organisation and some of the country’s most prominent personalities.
In 2008, the then SAFA president Molefi Oliphant sent a letter in 2008 to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke saying that $US10m (8.9m based on current exchange rates) should be administered directly by Warner.
The money was intended to support football in the Caribbean, SAFA said.
It has been alleged Warner used some of the funds for credit card payments and personal loans and that JTA Supermarkets, a large chain in Trinidad, received $US4.86m (4.1m based on current exchange rates ) from the accounts. In the three transactions – on January 4, February 1 and March 10, 2008 – funds totalling $US10m from FIFA accounts were received into CONCACAF accounts controlled by Warner.
Warner has denied any wrongdoing, claiming during a televised address in Trinidad on Wednesday night he would reveal an “avalanche” of documents in support of his case and also prove a link between football’s governing body and his nation’s elections in 2010.
Channel 4 News were given permission to film Warner in his constituency office, but he refused to answer the reporter’s questions.
Attorney General of Trinidad Garvin Nicholas, however, did speak on camera. Nicholas indicated the complex legal nature of the on-going case was unlikely to resolve itself quickly, with the United Kingdom’s Judicial Committee of The Privy Council the court of final appeal constitutionally for the independent Commonwealth nation.
When asked if Trinidad would like to be rid of Warner “once and for all”, Nicholas responded: “We would like to get rid of the problem, that is accusations being made against a national that is bringing the country into disrepute, but we would also want to ensure that all the rights for any individual are maintained.”
On the subject of extradition to the US, Nicholas said: “The process allows for many appeals, if there are grounds for such appeals, so again it is difficult to say whether it will last a month or longer... possibly (years), depending on the appeals process. Anyone would have the opportunity to appeal all the way to the Privy Council if it was merited. I could not say whether such appeals would be merited or pursued at this time.” ver historic corruption since in late May when seven FIFA officials were arrested in dawn raids at a hotel in Zurich and were charged by US authorities, along with two other FIFA officials and five corporate executives.
Despite the arrests, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was re-elected, but on Tuesday the 79-year-old announced his resignation.
On Sunday, the head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee has reportedly claimed Russia and Qatar could lose the right to host the World Cup if evidence emerges of bribery in the bidding processes.
The bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals were not subject to any charges announced by US authorities, but the FBI’s on-going investigation into corruption at the world governing body is reported to be set to put those processes under scrutiny. Both Russia and Qatar have strenuously denied any wrongdoing. England lost out in the 2018 voting process to Russia, along with combined bids from Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium, while Qatar were unexpected 2022 winners ahead of the likes of the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
However, Domenico Scala, who is the independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, told Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung if anything untoward was uncovered, there could be the most serious of repercussions. “Should there be evidence that the awards to Qatar and Russia came only because of bought votes, then the awards could be cancelled,” he is quoted as saying in the newspaper.