Warner: "football tsunami" will hit FIFA
FIFA vice president Jack Warner warns that a soccer ''tsunami'' will hit the sport's governing body, a prediction coming one day before he faces a FIFA bribery hearing with presidential candidates Sepp Blatter and Mohamed bin Hammam.
Speaking in his native Trinidad on Saturday, Warner told local media he's not guilty of ''a single iota of wrongdoing.''
''The time has come when I must stop playing dead,'' Warner said before flying to Zurich for the ethics hearing. ''In the next couple days, you will see a football tsunami that will hit FIFA and the world that will shock you.''
FIFA is already reeling from its latest corruption scandal and the prospect of one or both candidates being kicked off the ballot for Wednesday's vote.
Warner, a 28-year veteran of FIFA's executive committee, and Qatari challenger bin Hammam are accused of offering bribes to up to 25 Caribbean voters on a campaign visit. Bin Hammam has suggested it's a conspiracy to remove him from the election.
Blatter is accused of ignoring alleged corruption attempts in Trinidad, after bin Hammam succeeded in persuading FIFA to investigate its own president. FIFA's code imposes a duty of disclosure on officials to report corruption.
Blatter is skipping Saturday's Champions League final in London to prepare his defense. He was placed under suspicion Friday.
Long recognized as a key FIFA power broker, Warner presides over the regional soccer body representing North and Central America and the Caribbean. He now confronts the most serious fight of his career and promises to publish his statement to the ethics panel and ''all of the supporting documents'' backing his case.
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 allegedly were offered $40,000 in cash for ''development projects.''
Bin Hammam has acknowledged paying for their travel, accommodations and conference costs, but denies vote-buying.
Two Caribbean Football Union staffers from Trinidad, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, also have been summoned to the FIFA hearing.
FIFA cited bin Hammam and Warner based on information supplied by Chuck Blazer, their executive committee colleague and Warner's longtime No. 2 at CONCACAF. According to FIFA's evidence, Warner apparently commented 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 U.S. federal prosecutor who is now a member of FIFA's legal committee, could end his career in soccer'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,'' he added. ''Que sera, sera. I am not remotely bothered.''