ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter must “be stopped,” Jack Warner told Reuters Sunday as he lashed out at the man he has backed through thick and thin for almost 30 years.
Clearly angry after being provisionally suspended by an ethics committee hearing, Warner said he had been the victim of a kangaroo court and expanded on earlier statements regarding a $1 million offer by Blatter to delegates of CONCACAF, the North, Central American and Caribbean confederation.
“Blatter has to be stopped, and if he believes that he has got (Chuck) Blazer as his ally... Blazer is an employee,” senior FIFA executive committee member Warner said.
Blazer, who has been Warner’s secretary general at CONCACAF for 21 years, sparked the ethics hearing with a report on a Caribbean Football Union meeting earlier this month in which he said there had been possible violations of the FIFA code of ethics including “bribery allegations.”
That meeting was attended by Warner and Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam — the Qatari was standing against Blatter for the FIFA presidency until he withdrew early Sunday.
“Mr Bin Hammam never gave any money to the countries of the Caribbean,” he said. “Bin Hammam wired $260,000 to pay for accommodation, air fares, this is the norm,” said Warner, who is regarded as a FIFA powerbroker and controls the 35 CONCACAF votes at the Congress which elects the FIFA president.
“If Bin Hammam had to give a bribe, why would he then have wired the money and not bring it with him.”
He also showed a Reuters photographer and TV crews from Reuters Television and Sky Sports News the email he claimed was from FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke in which Valcke suggested to Warner that Qatar had “bought” the 2022 World Cup.
“You don’t have to believe me, you don’t have to like me, nobody has to eat with me, drink with me or sleep with me but Jesus Christ, take the truth when you see it,” he said, slapping pages of emails.
According to Warner, who read the email to camera, Valcke also claimed Bin Hammam was attempting to buy the presidential election in which he had been due to face Blatter on June 1 until he withdrew his candidacy Sunday.
The Trinidad and Tobago government minister poured scorn on the ethics committee.
“They came premeditated, they weren’t prepared to listen, they were hand-picked to do a task and they did just that,” he added.
“The guys were hand-picked by Blatter,” he said. “A kangaroo court would be a decent thing to say.”
He said that at a CONCACAF Congress in Miami in May, Blatter had offered $1 million to delegates.
“(UEFA president Michel) Platini got angry because he had no permission from the finance committee to do that, Platini says to him ‘but you can’t do that...’”
Warner has been at the center of many allegations over the years, but veteran FIFA observers have long understood Blatter gave him a free hand to administer CONCACAF as he saw fit in return for the bloc support of CONCACAF’s 35-member federations when Blatter needed them.
Writing by Mike Collett and Brian Homewood; Editing by Ossian Shine