*Update: Warners' response to the committee denies all allegations, and claims the USA is behind the whole thing.
In an astonishingly self-serving and mealymouthed statement published on his personal campaign blog early Sunday morning, Qatari billionaire Mohammad Bin Hammam announced that he has withdrawn from next Wednesdays' balloting for the Presidency of FIFA.
Blazer leaving FIFA HQ after testifying before the Ethics Committee
You know, that same "dignity and integrity" he's single handedly dragged into the gutter.
Bin Hammam arriving at FIFA HQ Sunday AM
The fact of his withdrawal has of course become largely irrelevant since it appears increasingly likely that the Ethics Committee is going to toss him out anyway.
After waxing philosophic about "change" and "transparency" and "democracy" in FIFA, the penultimate paragraph is an eye-opener that gives us some insight into how he's going to be playing it:
"I have a special thank you to my friend and colleague Jack Warner for his unlimited support. I am sorry to see that he has to suffer because of me, but I am promising him that I will be with him all the way through thick and thin."
(No mention is made of how "sorry" he is that a hundred million soccer fans worldwide are forced to "suffer" through watching our sport dragged through the filth by disgusting criminals like Mo and Jack. Maybe that will be his next post.)
Just how " thin" it's gotten is illustrated by The Telegraph which somehow got their hands on the dossier which FIFA ExCo member Chuck Blazer (AKA "the American") forwarded to the committee AND IT LAYS BARE a tawdry and disturbing a carnival of greed. (hat tip once again to Golazo).
It describes in excruciating detail an utterly shameless process which began with, as suspected, Warner and Bin Hammam concocting the whole "visa problem" story as a plausible excuse for moving the bribery process out of the United States. Copies of emails from both parties are offered as evidence.
It also shows Blazer warning them that having Bin Hammam pay for everyones' transportation and accommodations at the luxury Grand Hyatt in Port-of-Spain "raised ethical issues" but they brushed him off and went ahead. (Indeed, that may be enough to bring down Bin Hammam all by itself).
The report states that on May 10, the first day of the conference, Bin Hammam made a short presentation to the delegates after which:
"Mr Warner directed the officials to go to the ‘board room’ conference room in the hotel between 3pm and 5pm to pick up their ‘gift’ for attending this special meeting”
“When the officials went to the conference room, the door was closed and the officials were then only permitted to enter the room one at a time.
"Once in the conference room, two CFU staff members [identified as Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, both of whom have also been charged] directed the officials to sign a registration sheet.
“After the registration sheet was signed, one of the CFU staff members handed the official an envelope marked with the official’s respective association’s country name and told the official that the envelope was a ‘gift’ from the CFU that contained US$40,000 in cash.
“They told the official to count the money to confirm the amount if he or she wanted. The CFU staff members did not indicate any restrictions as to the use of the money, just reiterated that it was a ‘gift’.
(No mention of the "development grant" fig leaf; the niceties were, incredibly, simply abandoned)
"They did, however, instruct the officials not to discuss the money with anyone else and to not let anyone else see the money.”
The next day, Warner convened another meeting and told the members that the money was not, in fact from the CFU but rather from Bin Hammam.
The report says that four delegates declined to accept the money: Anton Sealey of the Bahamas, Bermudas' Larry Messenden, the Cayman Islands' Jeffrey Webb and Christopher Bryan of the Turks and Caicos. They collectively agreed to contact Blazer in New York with the story.
In subsequent interviews with former Federal prosecutor John Collins, three other federation delegates confirmed the details of what took place.
Conversely, it is believed that Warner himself has sworn statements from 12 other delegates who swear that none of this ever happened. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to guess that criminal dirtbags like alleged human being Patrick John of Dominica, obsequious Warner toadie Colin Klass of Guyana and utterly amoral thief Chet Greene of Antigua are among them.
They would say anything Jack Warner told them to say, any time, any place. Their souls were bought and paid for years ago and they'd happily purjure themselves a dozen times over if their master yanked their leash.
How credible the committee finds their testimony in light of the physical evidence remains to be seen.
Finally, there's Sepp Blatter.
If it was almost anyone else I could almost work up some sympathy for him at this point.
Ever since his name came into play, the headlines around the world have followed one general theme: "FIFA President being investigated for bribery".
ESPN ran that very line on their crawl all day Friday. Now, some stories aren't even mentioning that other people are involved at all. Just the "President of FIFA".
And the fact of the matter is that no one, as far as I know, has ever accused Sepp of taking a dime.
His addiction is to power, attention, high living and Head of state caliber treatment everywhere on Earth.
His sins are many, but they're all sins of omission; his compact with the satraps of world football has always been a simple one: do what you want, steal what you like and as long as you help me stay in power I'll keep you sake from the fallout.
It's how guys like Leoz and Texiera and Hayatou and, particularly, Warner, have gotten away with all of the more or less open theft and graft and bribery for decades now: at election time, they were behind Sepp 100%.
It was all Blatter ever asked for.
So it probably seems cruel to him to have his name and "bribery" appearing in headlines around the world. He has never had the slightest interest.
Furthermore, the headlines don't have room to include the fact that Bin Hammam. as an ExCo member, had the power to have the Ethics Committee investigate anyone in FIFA for anything (or nothing) at all. That's how the rules work: you tell them that you suspect wrongdoing and they immediately "open an investigation".
Not a single scintilla of proof of one damned thing is required, which is good because Bin Hammam likely doesn't have any.
The media statement from the committee seemed to be saying that the accusation centered around a hypothetical: Warner told people that Blatter "would not object" if he knew about the envelopes of cash being handed out.
And of course, in Jacks' experience, that's literally true; Warner has been handing out and receiving various amounts of loot for 30 years now and Blatter has been giving him cover the whole time.
Why would this be any different?
The article from the Telegraph seems to be saying that in this case Warner is claiming he told Blatter that the CFU would be getting together so that Bin Hammam could pass around some bribes and that Blatter was fine with it, a contention which, frankly, I find unbelievable.
It's nothing but pure speculation on my part, but I have suspected all along that this was really just another Warner double cross anyway: as England can attest, Warners' word means nothing and the fact that he had Bin Hammam come around and give everyone a "gift" did not in any way assure the Qatari of their votes.
He obviously believed that was what he was buying, but come election day I don't believe Warner was going to be bound by the fact that his pal Chet Greene was sharing a hotel room with a much more expensive caliber of hooker than he can normally afford.
(And that leaves aside what Warners' end of this was; he sure as hell didn't do any of this for free.)
The only conceivable construct that makes the Warner-Blatter story plausible is if Jack rang up his bud in Zurich and said "Hey, look, I've got Mo coming in to pass out some free money for everyone, but don't worry: I'm still going to steer all of CONCACAFs' votes your way."
But however it may or may not have gone down, karma is a funny thing.
Whether he knew about what was going on and said it was OK or not, the fact is that he's been OK with the payoffs and the ripoffs and the things nobody saw for 30 years now.
It would be ironic if the one that he didn't know about was the one that finally brought him down.
Ironic, but not unjust.
Call it reaping what you sow.