FIFA chief supports USA's 2022 bid
FIFA vice president Jack Warner Sunday was "keeping his cards close to his chest" about which country he will support as World Cup host in 2018 -- however he made clear his preference for the United States hosting the event in 2022.
Warner is also head of the North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and is considered to be the most influential football administrator in the Western Hemisphere.
In a statement Sunday, he said he remained "undecided as to which nation will get CONCACAF's vote" for 2018 ahead of the December 2 vote in Zurich.
FIFA's longest-serving vice president described the English bid as "impressive" but warned the competition is stiff for all bidders.
"All nations have made impressive presentations. On December 2nd it will come down to who is able to convince the Executive Committee. I am still undecided as to whom we will support, but the CONCACAF family will vote together," Warner said.
"I have stated it openly and I will reiterate, for the 2022 World Cup, the United States has CONCACAF’s full support," he added.
Warner departed for Zurich on Sunday to attend what is arguably the most highly anticipated FIFA Executive Committee meeting of the decade.
He will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron for lunch, and president of the English Football Association, Prince William, has also requested a meeting with Warner as they seek to bolster England's chances.
Cameron extended the invitation to Warner during a telephone conversation two weeks ago.
The 67-year-old Trinidadian football administrator is also expected to meet with former US President Bill Clinton as well as with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia, all of whom will be in Zurich this week to lend support for their various bid teams.
With much controversy surrounding this bid, Warner emphasized "the football fraternity has received intense criticism and scrutiny over the last month."
"Despite the past we must now work together to restore the confidence in the sport and its administrators," he added.
New allegations of corruption arose on Sunday, involving FIFA officials allegedly having taken "millions in payments," Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported.
Assuring that the voting process is "free, fair and democratic," Warner said, "We understand the importance of the December 2nd vote. The eyes of the world will be watching and I am certain we will all do what is best for the game."