World

Blazer: Pair conspired 'from start'

FIFA PRESIDENCY
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ZURICH (AP)

Suspended executives Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner conspired to bribe voters ''right from the start'' of the FIFA presidential campaign, their longtime American colleague Chuck Blazer said Sunday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Blazer said more proof will emerge to back up the file of evidence he submitted which sparked an explosive FIFA ethics probe days before the election.

''This was a conspiracy right from the start between the two of them,'' said Blazer, dismissing bin Hammam's suggestions that FIFA President Sepp Blatter orchestrated the scandal as ''absolute foolishness.''

Blazer, a FIFA executive committee member and general secretary of the CONCACAF regional body, said he expects more Caribbean football leaders to admit they were offered $40,000 cash bribes to back bin Hammam in his election contest with Blatter.

Blatter is now the only candidate on Wednesday's ballot after the FIFA ethics committee cleared him on Sunday of ignoring corruption attempts, as his Qatari challenger had alleged.

Bin Hammam withdrew from the presidential race early Sunday, hours before he was suspended from FIFA pending a full inquiry.

Warner, a FIFA vice president and 28-year veteran of its executive board, was also suspended for his part in organizing a campaign visit in his native Trinidad for bin Hammam three weeks ago.

Warner first talked of arranging an exclusive Caribbean Football Union conference on April 1, the day election nominations closed, Blazer said.

Blazer said he expected ''much more evidence'' would emerge from the 25-member CFU before the inquiry in about one months' time.

''There are others obviously that did (take bribes),'' said Blazer, referring to the 13 federations which wrote letters backing Warner's claim that nothing untoward happened in Trinidad. ''And we clearly know that those are the people who have done so.''

John Collins, the former U.S. federal prosecutor who collected witness statements and compiled the file for Blazer, said those who accepted the money could still come forward.

''My hope is that they will self-report. If they don't, they will be discovered in the investigation,'' Collins told The AP.

CFU members have that chance Monday when the North, Central American and Caribbean regional body which Warner presided over since 1990 meets at a Zurich hotel.

Members will be addressed by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, who announced Sunday that the Puerto Rico federation sent him an email confirming it had received $40,000 but had brought a check to Switzerland to return the money.

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