DILI (26 May 2011) – FIFA are investigating allegations of bribery involving presidential candidate Mohamed Hammam and FIFA vice president Jack Warner – just days ahead of Sepp Blatter’s bid for re-election as head of football’s governing body.
The two senior officials will face an ethics investigation at FIFA headquarters on Sunday, three days before Hammam challenges Blatter in the presidential election.
US official Chuck Blazer, Warner’s long-time ally and Concacaf general secretary, reported the allegations to FIFA.
“In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke requested the FIFA ethics committee to open ethics proceedings,” FIFA said in a statement.
FIFA said the bribery allegations related to Hammam’s meeting with Caribbean football leaders on 10-11 May in Warner’s native Trinidad to lobby for support. “This meeting was linked to the upcoming FIFA presidential election,” FIFA said.
Warner has long been a key powerbroker in FIFA politics, and his 35-member confederation has not yet officially endorsed either candidate.
Two other Caribbean Football Union officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, are also being investigated. FIFA said the four people under suspicion have been invited to ‘take a position’ by Friday and report to the ethics panel on Sunday.
Hammam has vowed to bring more transparency to football’s world governing body amid fresh corruption claims before next month’s leadership vote.
FIFA have been beset by allegations of corruption in the run-up to the 1 June 2011 election, when Hammam will challenge former ally Sepp Blatter, who is seeking a fourth and final four-year term.
And Hammam, currently president of the Asian Football Confederation, denied that FIFA were a corrupt organization but one more in need of dynamic new leadership.
“People want to see more transparency in FIFA which is accused of being corrupt whereas it isn’t,” the 61-year-old Qatari said. “What has been lacking has been this transparency which we haven’t been able to get through to the public. That will be top of my priorities.”
Hamman, who has had to constantly deny allegations of vote buying regarding the successful Qatar bid, said he was determined to restore pride in the world football body after years of stagnation under 75-year-old Blatter, who has served since 1998.
“When Blatter took over FIFA he clearly made it known that he wouldn’t do more than two terms,” he said. “He contributed a lot to the development of football but he’s been there too long and it’s time for new leadership of FIFA, change isn’t a bad thing.”
Hamman said he wanted clubs to have more of a say in FIFA and would also be proposing to almost double the number of executive committee members by bringing the number to 40 from the present 24.
IN THE MEANTIME, Hammam has issued a statement as follows:
“This has been a difficult and painful day for me today.
But, if there is even the slightest justice in the world, these allegations will vanish in the wind. This move is little more than atactic being used by those who have no confidence in their own abilityto emerge successfully from the FIFA Presidential election.
I remain deeply indebted to Mr. Warner for his sense of Fair Playbecause without his support and understanding I would not have beenable to meet with several important Member Associations of FIFA todiscuss my election manifesto.
Here I completely deny any allegations of wrongdoing eitherintentionally or unknowingly while I was in the Caribbean.
I will speak to Mr. Warner on this subject and offer him my fullsupport in ensuring we are discharged honourably by the FIFA EthicsCommittee, a body which I hold in the highest esteem.
I am confident that there is no charge to answer and that I will befree to stand in the FIFA Presidential election on June 1 as originallyplanned.
I will have no further comment to make on this matter until after Iappear before the FIFA Ethics Committee and I would like to apologiseto all members of the media in advance for not being able to discussthis issue with them until the conclusion the hearing.”