FOX SOCCER

Warner and Bin Hammam damned in report

Jack Warner Mohamed bin Hammam FIFA
Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam
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There is "comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming'' evidence that FIFA member Mohamed Bin Hammam tried to bribe officials during his presidential campaign and that Jack Warner was "an accessory to corruption'', according to a secret report by FIFA's ethics committee.

FIFA announced on Monday that Warner had resigned as FIFA vice-president and quit all football activities, and the world governing body said they had dropped all investigations into him and that ``the presumption of innocence is maintained''.

But the full report of the ethics committee headed by Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb which provisionally suspended Warner and Bin Hammam on May 29 says there was "prima facie'' evidence that bribes had been paid to officials to support Bin Hammam's campaign for the FIFA presidency, and that Warner had facilitated this.

The pair - two of the three most powerful men in world football - were suspended last month pending a full inquiry. Bin Hammam withdrew as a candidate against Sepp Blatter on the morning of his ethics committee hearing on May 29.

Both he and Warner have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The 17-page ethics committee document setting out their decision was faxed to Warner last week, on June 14, and three days later he informed FIFA he was resigning.

A copy of that report has now been obtained by the Press Association. It concludes that there was "compelling'' evidence that Bin Hammam and Warner arranged a special meeting of the 25 members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) on May 10 and 11 in Trinidad and that, with their knowledge, cash gifts were handed over.

Statements from witnesses, described as "credible and correspondent'' in the report, said they were handed brown envelopes each containing 40,000 US dollars.

One of the witnesses, Fred Lunn from the Bahamas, photographed the cash before returning it.

Four witnesses stated that Warner told the CFU delegates on May 11 that the "money for the 'gifts' allegedly distributed the day before had been apparently provided by Mr Bin Hammam'', the document states.

Warner's evidence to the May 29 hearing is described as "mere self-serving declarations'' and that he "failed to provide the FIFA ethics committee with a plausible explanation''.

The report states: "The comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming evidence permits to conclude prima facie that the accused [Warner] has initiated and arranged a special meeting of the CFU member associations for Mr Bin Hammam.

"Furthermore on the occasion of this meeting it seems Mr Bin Hammam offered, at least indirectly and under the pledge of secrecy, to each of the member associations an envelope containing $40,000.

"The FIFA ethics committee is of the primary opinion that the accused [Warner] had knowledge of the respective payments and condoned them.

"It seems quite likely that the accused [Warner] contributed himself to the relevant actions, thereby acting as an accessory to corruption.''

The report adds: "The committee is also of the opinion that the respective money gifts can probably only be explained if they are associated with the FIFA presidential elections of 1 June 2011.

"Therefore it appears rather compelling to consider the actions of Mr Bin Hammam constitute prima facie an act of bribery, or at least an attempt to commit bribery.

"It appears prima facie impossible, in the opinion of the FIFA ethics committee, that the accused [Warner] could have considered the money distributed... as legally or ethically proper and without any connection to the upcoming FIFA presidential election.

"Consequently, the accused would at least be considered as an accessory to the aforementioned violations.''

The ethics committee report goes on to say that the facts "eventually lead to the primary conclusion that Mr Bin Hammam appears to have intended to influence the voting behaviour of the CFU member associations on the occasion of the FIFA presidential elections in his favour.''

The revelations contained in the secret report have provoked a call for FIFA to re-open the case against Warner.

Damian Collins, the Tory MP who is campaigning for a reform of FIFA, said: "This makes FIFA's claim that Jack Warner can be presumed innocent absolutely incredible. I believe Jack Warner should be made to answer these charges - it's not enough just for him to resign.

"This shows it was a big error of judgement by Sepp Blatter to call off the inquiry and cover this up.

"FIFA should also confirm that Mohamed Bin Hammam should not similarly be allowed to resign in return for having the investigation dropped.''

There have been reports that Warner is entitled to around £20,000 a year as pension from FIFA and Collins also called for the organisation to state that he is not eligible for such payments.

Bin Hammam said in a statement: "There is nothing I can say more than I deny the allegations and insist that I have not done anything wrong during the special Congress at Trinidad.''

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