Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner blasts “American witch hunt”

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (OCTOBER 9, 2015) (CCN TV6) – Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner on Friday (October 9) blamed an “American witch hunt” for the global soccer body’s latest woes, including the suspension of several high profile figures.

In the biggest corruption scandal to hit the sport, Warner and 13 other soccer officials and sports marketing executives were indicted in the United States on May 27 on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges involving more than $150 million in payments

Speaking to reporters in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, Port of Spain, amid the ongoing investigation, Warner defended FIFA’s current president Sepp Blatter, who was recently slapped with a 90 day ban by the organization’s ethics committee.

“All of us make errors, who hasn’t, but nobody can deny that Blatter has cultivated football globally,” he said, adding that if it weren’t for Blatter “this country could not have been in the World Cup finals.”

Warner also questioned his own lifetime ban that was handed down last month, arguing that it was nonsensical, since he’d been away from the sport for years.

“I haven’t seen a football match live in this country for four-and-a-half-years, nor on television for four-and-a-half-years. So ban me for what? I don’t understand,” he said.

In addition, Warner suggested that FIFA’s decision to suspend another former FIFA vice-president, South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon, on Thursday (October 8) was politically motivated.

“Chung left football seven years ago. The minute he says he will go up for the presidency of FIFA, they ban him for six years. I mean, something has to be wrong,” he said. “Why is it you can’t let the democratic system prevail?”

Both Warner and Chung had been members of the executive committee which awarded Russia and Qatar the hosting rights at a vote in December 2010.

That decision is among several topics currently being investigated by Swiss and U.S. authorities.

On Friday, Blatter filed an official appeal against his suspension, according to his friend and former public relations adviser Klaus Stoehlker.

Chung has also said he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after claiming the ruling against him was an attempt to punish his open criticism of FIFA.

As for Warner, who spoke to the media on Friday after attending a meeting of the Teachers District Convention, he is currently fighting extradition to the United States.

Warner was found guilty of violating ethics code articles on general rules of conduct, loyalty, duty of disclosure, conflicts of interest, the offering and acceptance of gifts and of failing to collaborate with the ethics committee.