x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Fifa vice president Jack Warner vows to shake game to its core

The outcome of the Fifa ethics committee hearing in Zurich today could inflict further damage on football's governing body.

The Fifa vice president yesterday warned that a "football tsunami" will hit the governing body this week, as he prepares to face a bribery hearing today alongside presidential candidates Sepp Blatter and Mohamed bin Hammam.

Jack Warner, a 28-year veteran of Fifa's executive committee, and challenger bin Hammam, of Qatar, are accused of offering bribes to up to 25 Caribbean voters on a campaign visit.

Bin Hammam has suggested the charges are part of a conspiracy to remove him from the election contest.

Blatter will appear at a Fifa ethics committee hearing in Zurich today facing allegations that he ignored the alleged corruption attempts in Trinidad.

Warner has promised he will publish his intended statement to the ethics panel and "all of the supporting documents" backing his case.

"The time has come when I must stop playing dead," Warner said before flying from his native Trinidad and Tobago to Switzerland.

"In the next couple days, you will see a football tsunami that will hit Fifa and the world that will shock you."

Warner also said he is not guilty of "a single iota of wrongdoing". His comments were reported by several newspapers in Trinidad.

The latest corruption scandal, which involves so many high-profile figures in the sport's world governing body, has led to calls for Wednesday's presidential vote to be cancelled.

Michel Platini, the Uefa president, said there is "no possibility" he will enter the Fifa presidential race

"I have just been voted in for four years at Uefa and there is just no possibility [of going to Fifa]," Platini told BBC Sport.

"If there is an election then a new president will be elected for four years. If there is no election then it will be complicated."

Blatter skipped his intended visit to yesterday's Champions League final in London to prepare his defence. He was formally placed under suspicion on Friday.

Bin Hammam has denied any wrongdoing and said there was growing evidence of a conspiracy to keep him out of the race. Blatter has simply said the facts would speak for themselves.

Warner, long recognised as a key Fifa power broker, faces the most serious fight of his football career. He is also president of Concacaf, the regional governing body for North, Central American and Caribbean football.

Caribbean Football Union members who have votes in the Fifa election were allegedly offered cash bribes at the May 10-11 conference in Trinidad, where Warner is a government minister. Delegates were allegedly offered U$40,000 (Dh146,922) in cash for "development projects."

Bin Hammam has acknowledged paying for their travel and accommodation expenses, and conference costs, but denies vote-buying.

Fifa charged bin Hammam and Warner based on evidence supplied by Chuck Blazer, their executive committee colleague and Warner's longtime No 2 at Concacaf.

In confirming Blatter's summons, Fifa said the evidence file included Warner apparently commenting that his president "would have had no issue" with cash payments to delegates.

Warner dismissed suggestions that the file compiled by John Collins, a former United States federal prosecutor who is now a member of Fifa's legal committee, could end his career within football's ruling body.

"Why should [I] be hanged now and by whom? The American Chuck Blazer? His American lawyer John Collins? Give me a break, guys," Warner told reporters at Trinidad's parliament.

"I will hold my head high to the very end because I am not guilty of a single iota of wrongdoing. Que sera, sera. I am not remotely bothered."

Warner, 68, said the "attacks" on him were based on envy.

"I am in Fifa for 29 consecutive years, I was the first black man to have ever been in Fifa at this level," he said. "I have come from the smallest country ever to be on the Fifa executive committee. There is no country smaller than Trinidad and Tobago on Fifa's executive committee.

"I am wielding more power in Fifa now than sometimes even the president, I must be the envy of others."

Two Caribbean Football Union staffers from Trinidad, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, have also been summoned to the Fifa ethics hearing.

* Agencies