After persistent rumors all weekend long, FIFA announced this morning that Vice President Jack Warner has resigned.
In a negotiated deal, FIFA is dropping the investigation of Warners' activities in connection with the Port-of-Spain Bribe-o-Rama on May 10 & 11.
I think it's probably more accurate to say - although I haven't seen this particular verbiage - that, since obviously the affair cannot possibly be investigated without looking into Warners' role, FIFA has agreed not to publish a finding in his case.
Warner has agreed to quit all of his positions in International soccer, including Vice President of FIFA, President of CONCACAF, President of the Caribbean Football Union, member of the FIFA Executive Committee and, of course, Special Advisor to the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation.
Here's the entire statement from FIFA:
Jack A. Warner has informed FIFA about his resignation from his posts in international football.
FIFA regrets the turn of events that have led to Mr Warner’s decision.
His resignation has been accepted by world football’s governing body, and his contribution to international football and to Caribbean football in particular and the CONCACAF confederation are appreciated and acknowledged.
Mr Warner is leaving FIFA by his own volition after nearly 30 years of service, having chosen to focus on his important work on behalf of the people and government of Trinidad and Tobago as a Cabinet Minister and as the Chairman of the United National Congress, the major party in his country’s coalition government.
The FIFA Executive Committee, the FIFA President and the FIFA management thank Mr Warner for his services to Caribbean, CONCACAF and international football over his many years devoted to football at both regional and international level, and wish him well for the future.
As a consequence of Mr Warner’s self-determined resignation, all Ethics Committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained.
That sound you just heard was the starters' pistol beginning the mad scramble for the posts and the power he's leaving behind.
The suspicion here is that Warner knows perfectly well that Freeh & Co. have the goods on him. It's even possible if not likely that FIFA has shown him what they have and he knows the game is up.
His more immediate problem is that the T&T police, after dragging their feet, have opened an investigation of their own.
And that's just the bribery stuff. Reportedly there's a seperate issue of having been involved with the smuggling into the country and undeclared one million dollars in US currency.
As a cabinet minister - some would say the de facto Prime Minister of T&T - it's looking increasingly possible that he'll lose his government jobs as well and if it comes to that, he could do time in jail.
The deal with FIFA will keep the information and testimony that the Ethics Committee investigators dig up hidden in a file in Zurich, and it's info that the T&T police aren't likely to be able to replicate.
For his part, Warner pledged to help FIFA’s wider corruption investigation, which includes the conduct of former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam.
“I reaffirm my offer of cooperation with the FIFA ethics committee in the resolution of the ongoing investigations into alleged irregularities pertaining to the recent visit of Mohamed Bin Hammam to Port of Spain to meet with CFU delegates.
"I have arrived at this decision in order to spare FIFA, Concacaf and, in particular, the CFU and its membership, further acrimony and divisiveness arising from this and related issues.”