PORT OF SPAIN — Former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, a central figure in world soccer’s deepening scandal, has vowed to tell investigators all he knows about corruption within the sport’s governing body
In a paid political address entitled “The gloves are off” broadcast in Trinidad and Tobago late on Wednesday, Warner said he feared for his life, but would reveal everything he knew
He said he had instructed his lawyers to contact law enforcement officials both in his homeland and overseas.
“There can be no reversal of the course of action I’ve now embarked upon,” said Warner, a prominent local politician and businessman.
He said some of the documents he had related to financial dealings with Fifa, some of which are being investigated by US authorities
But he also said he had documents linking Fifa with the 2010 Trinidad and Tobago government elections.
“I have kept quiet, fearing this day might come. I will do so no more,” he said. “I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country.”
Warner is among more than a dozen officials charged by the US Department of Justice with running a criminal enterprise that involved more than $150 million in bribes.
Prosecutors say Warner solicited bribes worth millions and charged him with offences including racketeering and bribery.
His address on Wednesday came hours after American Chuck Blazer, another former Fifa executive committee member, admitted taking bribes relating to a range of tournaments, including the 1998 and 2010 World Cups.
Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke said on Wednesday he felt not guilt over his involvement in a $10 million transfer to a disgraced football official now being investigated by US authorities.
Valcke added he would not resign straight away because of the corruption scandal engulfing football’s world body, but could leave when a new president takes over from Sepp Blatter.
“I have nothing to blame myself for and I certainly do not feel guilty so I do not even have to justify my innocence,” the French official told the France Info radio station.
Valcke has become one of the key figures in the Fifa corruption scandal because of a $10 million payment made by South Africa to North and Central American (CONCACAF) football chief Warner through football’s world body in 2008.
US investigators reportedly believe the money was a bribe in return for backing for South Africa getting the 2010 World Cup.
Fifa has insisted it only acted as an intermediary between South Africa and Warner who quit Fifa in 2011 over other corruption allegations.
Valcke said he only knew about the payment because he receives all correspondence sent to Fifa, but he did not authorise the transfer.
“I don’t have the power to authorise a payment, especially one of $10 million and above all one that comes from another account separate from Fifa,” said the 54-year-old official, who has been secretary-general since 2007.
Valcke said the transfer was authorised by Julio Grondona, then head of the Fifa finance committee.
The controversial Argentine official died last year. Warner was his deputy at the time.
South Africa says the $10 million was intended for an Africa Diaspora development project in the Caribbean which was handled by Warner, now one of 14 people facing charges in the United States over tens of millions of dollars of bribes.
South Africa’s Sports minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday that the payment was “above board” and not a bribe.
“Following a decision by the South African government, Fifa received a letter demanding the withdrawal of $10 million from the budget of the organising committee of the 2010 World Cup so that could go towards the Diaspora Legacy Programme,” said Valcke.
“These funds were to be handled by the president of CONCACAF Jack Warner, thus the money was sent to the accounts indicated by Jack Warner.”
Valcke said he was bemused as to how his name had been dragged into the story.
“It was not Fifa’s money, I don’t see what my role is in a story of corruption,” he said.
“I had been named secretary-general in 2007, I do not understand the reasoning, where and how I was linked with a corruption scandal.”
Fifa leader Sepp Blatter, who resigned on Tuesday, named Valcke to the post just months after he had been “released” as Fifa’s marketing director over a costly legal battle with Mastercard.
Valcke (54) often served as Fifa’s frontman in urging Brazil to speed up construction and preparations for the World Cup last year.
Speaking of his own future, Valcke stated: “I have always said that I was the secretary-general of Sepp Blatter. There will be a new Fifa president in early 2016. In general a president chooses his secretary-general.” — Reuters