FIFA’s corruption crisis deepened today after a dramatic announcement that vice-president Jack Warner and presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam have been charged with offering bribes for votes.
The pair will face FIFA’s ethics committee on Sunday where they will face long bans if the allegations – made by fellow executive committee member Chuck Blazer - are proved.
The crisis puts a big question mark over whether the FIFA presidential election between Sepp Blatter and Bin Hammam on Wednesday will go ahead.
Blazer, an American who is the general secretary of the CONCACAF federation of which Warner is president, has alleged that violations of FIFA’s code of ethics occurred during a meeting organised by Bin Hammam and Warner for Caribbean Football Union (CFU) associations in the Bahamas two weeks ago.
Two CFU officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, have also been charged.
A FIFA statement read: “On 24 May, 2011, FIFA executive committee member and CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer reported to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke possible violations of the FIFA code of ethics allegedly committed by officials.
“In particular, the report referred to a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union, apparently organised jointly by FIFA vice-president Jack A. Warner and FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam, which took place on 10-11 May 2011. This meeting was linked to the upcoming FIFA presidential election.
“In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, in compliance with article 16 of the FIFA code of ethics, yesterday requested the FIFA ethics committee open ethics proceedings.”
The four people charged have been invited to respond to the allegations by Friday and to attend a hearing in Zurich on Sunday.
FIFA announced that the ethics committee chairman Claudio Sulser will not oversee the proceedings because he shares Swiss nationality with Bin Hammam’s presidential rival Blatter, and this could be construed as a conflict of interest.
The meeting will instead be chaired by the committee’s deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb, a judge from Namibia.
The new investigation follows on from a separate inquiry launched earlier this month by FIFA into claims made in the UK Parliament regarding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups last year.
The former FA chairman Lord Triesman alleged during a culture, media and sport select committee hearing that he had witnessed “improper and unethical” behaviour by four ExCo members – including Warner – during his time as England’s 2018 World Cup bid chairman.
Triesman alleged that Warner asked for cash to build an education centre; that Thailand’s FIFA member Worawi Makudi wanted to be given the television rights to a friendly between England and the Thai national team; that Paraguay’s FIFA member Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood; and that Brazil’s FIFA member Ricardo Terra Teixeira asked Triesman to “come and tell me what you have got for me”.
Two other ExCo members – FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast – were accused in the committee of having been paid $1.5m (€1m) each to back Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 finals in a submission to the committee by the Sunday Times.
The FA have appointed a barrister to review if there is any evidence to corroborate Triesman’s allegations and to report back by Friday.