On Tuesday, Jack Warner was banned from all footballing activities for life by Fifa’s ethics committee. He’s likely to be the first in a long list of culprits to be given the boot and this latest development should be making the South African co-conspirators nervous indeed. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
Just a few days after Swiss authorities announced that they will be opening an investigation into Sepp Blatter, everybody’s favourite mad-as-a-bag-of-snakes former Fifa official, Jack Warner, has been banned for life.
The ban, handed down by the adjudicatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee, was announced in a statement saying:
“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 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football).
“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.”
According to Fifa’s statement, the ethics committee, chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert, commenced its investigation into Warner’s activities in January following its report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.
Warner has previously threatened to “unveil all of Fifa’s secrets” but nothing ever came from that. He most likely knew that any expansive revelations would mean he had to implicate himself in wrongdoing and he has since opted to deny everything, South African-style. Now, we know using ‘Fifa’ and ‘ethics’ in the same sentence is a bit of a contradiction. The man who chaired the investigation into Warner is the same man who prepared a summary of Michael Garcia’s report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, which basically said football is in good hands. But maybe, just maybe, enough people are making enough noise to root out some of the corruption culprits.
Warner, unsurprisingly, met the ban with defiance, hinting that this is simply a way to detract from the investigation into Blatter.
“I left the Fifa in April 2011 and if in September 2015 the Fifa wants to ban me for life without even a hearing then so be it. I do not believe however that this will serve as the distraction to the Fifa’s present problems as the Fifa wishes it to be.
“Given what is happening in Zurich with Blatter I wish to say that there is no such thing as coincidence.”
The former Fifa vice-president is a wanted man at the moment and is wanted in the US on corruption charges, including racketeering, for his time at Fifa. Tobago’s attorney signed authority-to-proceed documents, earlier this month, which means it’s only a matter of time before the extradition proceedings begin.
But Warner is just one fish in the pond of rot which was exposed earlier this year by two concurrent investigations – one by the US and another by Swiss authorities. In the greater scheme of things, the ban from Fifa and the news that they have “been co-operating” with investigators should leave South Africa’s unnamed co-conspirators sweating.
Warner stands accused of, among other things, pocketing a $10-million payment from South Africa. The 72-year-old Trinidadian laundered money through a supermarket chain, made cash withdrawals, paid off his credit cards and took personal loans from the sum. US investigators suspect the money was paid over as a bribe from South African officials to help secure votes for the hosting rights to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
If that was the case (the letters instructing this payment to be made exist and are signed by South African officials) then there could be trouble. South African officials have always insisted that they were under the impression that the money going to the ‘Diaspora Legacy Fund’ would be put towards a development plan. Fifa’s own investigation suggests they found evidence of Warner being involved in a number of bribes. While the South African transaction is just one of many, it is substantial and it is central to the case against Warner by the US authorities, not a good news for the South African officials who were involved in this payment. To be continued… DM
Photo: Then FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President Jack Warner speaks at a news conference before the start of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Gold Cup 2007 final match between Mexico and the USA at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 24 June 2007. EPA/TANNEN MAURY.