Archive for Soccer

If Jack Warner Was A Real Man Rather Than Make Threats Every Day, He Should Be Doing Everything Possible To Clear His Two Sons From The 20 Year Federal Prison Sentences They Are Facing.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2015 by sheriffali

LONDON — Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president who was among14 people indicted by the United States last week as part of an inquiry into corruption in world soccer, has said he knows why the organization’s president, Sepp Blatter, announced plans to step down from soccer’s governing body.


“Blatter knows why he fell. And if anyone else knows, I do,” Mr. Warner said in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, referring to Mr. Blatter’s decision this week to resign after 17 years at the helm of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. Mr. Warner, who said he feared for his own life, also said he had evidence linking FIFA to his country’s 2010 election.


Mr. Warner was once a close ally of Chuck Blazer, the former general secretary of Concacaf, the governing body that oversees soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Mr. Blazer has admitted taking bribes from bidders seeking to host the 1998 and 2010 World Cups and is now cooperating with the American authorities. On Wednesday, a judge in New York ordered the release of a redacted version of his plea hearing in 2013.


Mr. Warner’s sons, Daryan and Daryll, are also cooperating with the authorities, having secretly pleaded guilty in 2013 after they tried to deposit more than $600,000 in nearly two dozen United States bank accounts in an attempt to avoid detection.


During a rambling and sometimes incoherent seven-minute televisionaddress, called “The Gloves Are Off,” Mr. Warner invoked Gandhi and sought to cast himself as a victim. In his speech, a paid political advertisement, he said he had reams of documents, including copies of checks, linking Mr. Blatter and other senior FIFA officials to an effort to manipulate a 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago.


He said he had delivered his files to “respectable persons” and lawyers, and he warned that he had an “avalanche” of additional evidence.


“I will no longer keep secrets for them who now seek to destroy the country which I love,” he said.


It was not clear why FIFA would want to intervene in the country’s electoral process, and Mr. Warner did not immediately provide any evidence to back his claims. He was later seen addressing a crowd at a political rally.


“I apologize for not disclosing my knowledge of these events before,” Mr. Warner said, calling himself a “lone isolated soldier.” Referring to his arrest last week on charges of bribery and corruption, including a brief stay in jail before he was released on bail, he said that conditions had been “woeful.”


He said nothing would prevent him from revealing details of the scandal. “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming,” he told his supporters. “The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.” Paraphrasing Gandhi, he said that throughout history there had been tyrants, but that, in the end, they fall.


Mr. Warner also said he felt threatened, saying that, “I reasonably actually fear for my life.” Yet shortly after the speech was broadcast, he appeared at a rally for his Independent Liberal Party, and seemed resolute.


Mr. Warner faces a raft of charges, including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, but he denies the accusations. In 2004, as FIFA’s executive committee was deliberating where to hold the 2010 World Cup, prosecutors say that South Africa’s government arranged for what amounted to a $10 million bribe to Mr. Warner and others in exchange for their votes.


According to the indictment, when FIFA was considering which country would host the 2006 World Cup, Mr. Warner sent a relative to a Paris hotel room to collect a briefcase filled with cash in $10,000 stacks from a South African bid-committee official.


South Africa has emphatically denied giving any bribes to ensure it would host the tournament, but news reports on Thursday said that the country’s organized crime unit had opened a preliminary investigation into the bribery accusations.


The Australian police are also investigating corruption accusations in connection to the country’s bid for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, amid allegations that funds were misappropriated. The chairman of Football Federation Australia, Frank Lowy, published an open letter on Wednesday in which he cited an investigation by Concacaf showing that Mr. Warner had committed fraud and misappropriated the funds.


Australian officials in recent days have been voicing their deep disappointment at losing the World Cup to Qatar, and some critics of the Qatari bid are hoping that the small gulf nation could be stripped of the tournament, even as officials there are adamant that their bid was above reproach and that the tournament is not under threat. The sports minister of the Australian state of Victoria, John Eren, said his country could host the World Cup “tomorrow.”


Mr. Warner has been marshaling a very public defense since he was arrested last week in connection with the criminal investigation by the United States Justice Department that has ensnared FIFA. Last Sunday, he defended himself by referring to an article from The Onion, apparently unaware it was satire. In a video statement, he suggested that the charges against him were the product of a conspiracy cooked up by the United States.


Elsewhere, the former England captain David Beckham added his voice to those in European soccer who have grown weary of Mr. Blatter. “I hope at last we are now moving in the right direction,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC. “Some of the things that we now know happened were despicable, unacceptable and awful for the game we love so much.”

Mr. Beckham, who rose to global stardom playing for Manchester United, was a central supporter of England’s unsuccessful bid to host the World Cup in 2018, which was awarded to Russia. [NYT]



Twitter @sheriffali


FIFA Officials Arrested on Corruption Charges; Face Extradition to U.S.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2015 by sheriffali

[NYT] ZURICH — Swiss authorities began an extraordinary early-morning operation here Wednesday to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges.


As leaders of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich.


The officers went to the registration desk to get keys, then headed upstairs toward the hotel rooms.


The charges allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals, according to three law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case. The charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering. Prosecutors planned to unseal an indictment soon against more than 10 officials, not all of whom are in Zurich, law enforcement officials said.


“We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what F.I.F.A. did,” said a law enforcement official. “It just seemed to permeate every element of the federation and was just their way of doing business. It seems like this corruption was institutionalized.”


The arrests were a startling blow to FIFA, a multibillion-dollar organization that governs the world’s most popular sport but has been plagued by accusations of bribery for decades.

The inquiry is also a major threat to Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s longtime president who is generally recognized as the most powerful person in sports, though he was not charged. An election, seemingly pre-ordained to give him a fifth term as president, is scheduled for Friday.


The case is the most significant yet for United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, who took office last month. She previously served as the United States attorney in Brooklyn, where she supervised the FIFA investigation.


With more than $1.5 billion in reserves, FIFA is as much a global financial conglomerate as a sports organization. With countries around the world competing aggressively to win the bid to host the World Cup, Mr. Blatter has commanded the fealty of anyone who wanted a piece of that revenue stream. He and FIFA have weathered corruption controversies in the past, but none involved charges of federal crimes in United States court.


United States law gives the Justice Department wide authority to bring cases against foreign nationals living abroad, an authority that prosecutors have used repeatedly in international terrorism cases. Those cases can hinge on the slightest connection to the United States, like the use of an American bank or Internet service provider.


Switzerland’s treaty with the United States is unusual in that it gives Swiss authorities the power to refuse extradition for tax crimes, but on matters of general criminal law, the Swiss have agreed to turn people over for prosecution in American courts.


The case further mars the reputation of FIFA’s leader, Mr. Blatter, who has for years acted as a de facto head of state. Politicians, star players, national soccer officials and global corporations that want their brands attached to the sport have long genuflected before him.


Twitter @sheriffali