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FIFA in crisis, Day 2
May 27th, 2011 12:10AM

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[UPDATE] A day after the sensational news that American Chuck Blazer accused his longtime Concacaf colleague Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam of a bribery scheme to win the votes of Caribbean members in bin Hammam's bid to unseat Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, more details emerged about the meeting that took place earlier this month at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and the evidence Blazer submitted to FIFA. Bin Hammam also went on the counteroffensive, saying Blatter should also stand charged with violating FIFA's ethics rules ...

Accused:
MOHAMED BIN HAMMAM. The Asia Football Confederation president took the counteroffensive on Thursday, saying that FIFA President Sepp Blatter, his rival in the June 1 election, should be investigated because Blatter “was informed of, and did not oppose” the alleged payments to CFU officials. And that "the timing of the accusations so close to the election of FIFA president on June 1, 2011, suggests that they are part of a plan to damage Mr. Bin Hammam and force him to withdraw as a candidate for the FIFA presidency."

JACK WARNER. The Concacaf president's troubles mounted on two fronts. In addition to charges that he helped organize the special meeting of Caribbean Football Union members at which Bin Hammam and he are accused of offering $40,000 to members if they supported Bin Hammam for FIFA president, an email was released in which he asked the English FA, which was seeking his support in its bid for the 2018 World Cup, to donate $1.6 million to buy the license to show the 2010 World Cup on public screens. (No license existed, and no fee for such a license would have approached such an amount.) It is one of the few bits of solid evidence to emerge from an investigation into charges former FA chairman Lord Triesman made to Parliament about alleged bribery attempts by Warner and three other FIFA executive committee members surrounding the 2018 World Cup bid campaign that England lost to Russia.

Accusers:
CHUCK BLAZER. The American has been silent since it was revealed he filed a report with FIFA about the CFU plot, but one bit of evidence indicates trouble was brewing between Blazer and his longtime Concacaf colleague, Warner, before the May 3 Concacaf Congress in Miami. According to an email from Warner to Blazer, Warner wanted to organize a special Concacaf meeting -- outside the United States -- so Bin Hammam could meet Concacaf delegates. "Let's make this happen," instructed Warner. Blazer is said to have blocked the move. (This would give credence to the notion that bin Hammam never wanted to go to the Concacaf Congress. He said he couldn't go because he couldn't get a visa to enter the United States. It's a claim that no one has ever verified.) The CFU meeting took place a week after the Concacaf Congress in Miami.

FIFA President:
SEPP BLATTER. Blatter said in a column that bin Hammam's charges were “ludicrous and completely reprehensible.” He also praised Blazer's “civic courage” to submit the charges. The FIFA president went on to make a bizarre statement about how he'd like to be a Swiss farmer. "When a Swiss farmer's neighbor has a cow while he has none, the less fortunate farmer will work twice as hard so that one day he can buy a cow as well. When another farmer, elsewhere, on an island, say, has no cow but his neighbor does, that farmer will kill the neighbor's cow out of sheer malice. I'd rather be a Swiss farmer, like it or not."

Witnesses:
ANTON SEALEY.  The president of the Bahamas Football Association and father of the University of North Carolina freshman of the same name is said to be one of the CFU officials who complained to Blazer about the bribery attempt.

FRANKA PICKERING. The president of the British Virgin Islands Football Association said: "We discussed why [Bin Hammam] was running and that was about it. Us small islands are just a drop in the bucket."

COLIN KLASS. The president of Guyana Football Federation and a CFU vice president, said he didn’t recall anything “improper” taking place at the meeting with bin Hammam in Port of Spain. “Maybe they put something in our drinks to make us forget because I’m racking my brains but I don’t see anything improper."

Jury:
PETRUS DAMASEB. The Namibian judge will chair the meeting of the FIFA ethics committee that will hear the case against Warner, bin Hammam and two CFU officials on Sunday. He replaces Claudio Sulser, who has recused himself on the grounds he shares Swiss nationality with president Blatter. "If there is any man who can deal with this matter with a firm hand and in a honest fashion then it is Damaseb," said Namibian FA general secretary Barry Rukoro. "He has been in this kind of situation before when he oversaw the battle for succession of the governing Swapo party in Namibia and he handled a potentially contentious and controversial situation between powerful politicians with a great maturity."

BURTON HAIMES. The New York attorney and former AYSO president also recused himself, citing his longstanding relationship with Blazer and Warner. (John Collins, whose investigation into the CFU meeting was the basis for Blazer's report to FIFA, has also done legal work for AYSO.) “It’s a difficult and tough time for Chuck because of his relationship with Jack but he also owes a fiduciary duty to FIFA and you have to do the right thing,” Haimes said. “Sometimes we get put in a moral dilemma where you built up a relationship over many years and something happens.”

Sponsors:
ADIDAS. FIFA's longtime equipment sponsor was the first firm to comment on the matter: "The negative tenor of the public debate is neither good for the sport of football nor for FIFA as an institution and its partners."



1 comment
  1. Barry Ruderman
    commented on: May 28, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
    Ric, I enjoy your postings normally, but you butchered the the "tangled web" phrase and the correct usage would have been "delusions" of grandeur.


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