Home / Volley / Global Football / Bye bye Blatter: FIFA president quits after explosive Warner “bribe” letter

Bye bye Blatter: FIFA president quits after explosive Warner “bribe” letter

FIFA president Sepp Blatter quit his post at the helm of the governing football body this afternoon in a press conference that surprised the world.

Photo: Sepp Blatter heads for the exit in Zurich after resigning as FIFA president. (Copyright Valeriano Di Domenico/AFP 2015)
Photo: Sepp Blatter heads for the exit in Zurich after resigning as FIFA president.
(Copyright Valeriano Di Domenico/AFP 2015)

Barely a dozen journalists turned up in Zurich today for a hastily arranged press conference called by Blatter, who was re-elected as FIFA president last Friday on May 29. FIFA officials did not offer an agenda for the press conference but it turned out to be a landmark event.

“My mandate does not appear to be supported by everybody,” said Blatter. “This is why I will call an extraordinary meeting… I will organise extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president. I will not stand…

“FIFA’s interest are dear to me. That’s why I have taken this decision. What counts most for me, is the institution of Fifa and football around the world.”

It was a remarkable turnaround from the 79-year-old Swiss administrator who, just last week, crowed about his successful re-election, and condemned critics as part of a plot hatched by United States and England in retaliation for their failed 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

Ironically, former FIFA vice-president and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner might be the person who inadvertently brought him down.

Photo: Ex-FIFA VP Jack Warner (left) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Photo: Ex-FIFA VP Jack Warner (left) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Warner never delivered the “tsunami” he promised in 2011, when he was expelled from FIFA for conspiracy to rig the presidential election in favour of Qatari candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam. And the Trinidadian certainly never spoke about FIFA corrupt World Cup bidding processes, which the US Department of Justice suggested that football officials exploited to amass personal fortunes.

However, a shocking letter from the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Molefi Oliphant to FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke on 4 March 2008 might have been the tipping point.

The letter, which was revealed by South Africa’s Sunday Times News on May 31 and tweeted by PA journalist Martyn Ziegler, asked FIFA to pay what appeared to be a US$10 million bribe to Warner, the then CONCACAF president:

“SAFA (…) confirms that (1) FIFA shall withhold US$10 million from the Organising Committee’s future operational budget funding in order to finance the Diaspora Legacy Programme, thereby reducing the Organising Committee’s overall budget from US$423 million to US$413 million.

“(2) The Diaspora Legacy Programme shall be administered and implemented directly by the President of CONCACAF who shall act as the fiduciary of the Diaspora Legacy Programme Fund of US$10 million.”

Photo: United States Attorney General Loretta E Lynch.
Photo: United States Attorney General Loretta E Lynch.

This payment, according to the US indictment, was then made by FIFA, via a US account, to Warner’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) bank account and two accounts in Trinidad.

The letter implicated the FIFA general secretary and arguably, by extension, Blatter, who was once general secretary himself before he succeeded former president Joao Havelange in 1998.

Thus far, FIFA has denied Valcke’s involvement and instead pointed the finger at former Finance Committee chairman, Julio Grondona.

“The payments totalling $10 million were authorised by the then chairman of the finance committee,” the world governing body responded, “and executed in accordance with the organisation regulations of FIFA.”

Grondona is not expected to deny the accusation, since he died last year. But Blatter, for once, was unable to ride out the controversy.

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and general secretary Jerome Valcke.
Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and general secretary Jerome Valcke.

Last Friday, the FIFA president told a large media gathering: “For the next four years, I will be in command of this boat called Fifa and we will bring it back ashore, we will bring it back to the beach.

“The age is no problem. You have people that are 50 who look old.”

Four days later, though, Blatter said a hasty goodbye to FIFA in a surprise press conference.

Domenico Scala, FIFA’s head of audit and compliance committee, told the media that an election for a new president will be held between December 2015 and March 2016. Blatter will remain as president until then.

Blatter recommended new term limits for the FIFA president and executive committee members although such suggestions would need to be ratified by the broader football membership.

“I am dedicated to putting into place the conditions for the election of a new president,” said Scala. “There will be reforms to how the elections are conducted. Under the rules governing FIFA, the election must be voted on by members at the FIFA congress.

“The president will ask the executive committee to form an extraordinary congress to elect a new president. While the timing will ultimately be up to the executive committee the timing of election likely to be between December and March.

Photo: Brazil president Dilma Rousseff (left) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter. (Courtesy Fabrice Coffrini/ AFP)
Photo: Brazil president Dilma Rousseff (left) and FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
(Courtesy Fabrice Coffrini/ AFP)

“FIFA is determined to address the issues that are afflicting FIFA. We want to fundamentally reform the way in which people see FIFA.”

In 2011, South Africa President Jacob Zuma conferred the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold to Oliphant for his role in ensuring that South Africa won the bid. It is uncertain whether the recent revelations will prompt parallel investigations within that country.

Warner, who allegedly received the bribe, continues to declare his innocence of all charges and has vowed to fight extradition.

Last week, the ILP political leader criticised the Government for not defending him against the United States authorities.

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and then FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (left) pose with former Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.  (Copyright AFP 2014/Pius Utomi Ekpei)
Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (right) and then FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (left) pose with former Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s full resignation speech:

“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the forty years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football. I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football. I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organization. That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul.

“While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football — the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.

Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.

“The next ordinary FIFA Congress will take place on 13 May 2016 in Mexico City. This would create unnecessary delay and I will urge the Executive Committee to organize an Extraordinary Congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity. This will need to be done in line with FIFA’s statutes and we must allow enough time for the best candidates to present themselves and to campaign.

Photo: President Barack Obama (left) hosts FIFA president Sepp Blatter (centre) and then vice-president Jack Warner during the United States' ill-fated 2022 World Cup bid.
Photo: President Barack Obama (left) hosts FIFA president Sepp Blatter (centre) and then vice-president Jack Warner during the United States’ ill-fated 2022 World Cup bid.

“Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts. For years, we have worked hard to put in place administrative reforms, but it is plain to me that while these must continue, they are not enough.

“The Executive Committee includes representatives of confederations over whom we have no control, but for whose actions FIFA is held responsible. We need deep-rooted structural change.

The size of the Executive Committee must be reduced and its members should be elected through the FIFA Congress. The integrity checks for all Executive Committee members must be organised centrally through FIFA and not through the confederations. We need term limits not only for the president but for all members of the Executive Committee.

I have fought for these changes before and, as everyone knows, my efforts have been blocked.

“This time, I will succeed.”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

Check Also

Lawrence’s Warriors set new losing record; Wired868 looks at T&T’s five longest winless streaks

On Friday night, Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence set an …

178 comments

  1. Trinidad academy sign of Warner’s shady deals

    Published: 09 June 2015 Source: AFP
    http://tenplay.com.au/news/2015/06/09/trinidad-academy-sign-of-warner-s-shady-deals

    Trinidad and Tobago’s Centre of Excellence, a football academy built with millions of dollars from FIFA, today hosts more weddings and conventions than matches, a symbol of the shady dealings of fallen executive Jack Warner.

    The $22.5-million centre, which includes a stadium, a practice pitch, a swimming complex, a hotel and sprawling conference facilities, was supposed to train a new generation of footballers from around the Caribbean.

    But somehow it ended up registered as belonging to Warner personally instead of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), whose presidency the Trinidadian politician held at the time.

    And despite the giant football, complete with CONCACAF logo, that sits atop a pedestal near the entrance, the pastel-colored complex today does lots of non-football business — allegedly for the personal profit of Warner, who is also a former FIFA vice president.

    “The Centre of Excellence has blossomed into a multi-purpose facility capable of hosting a range of functions and events catering to individuals and companies including locals and tourists with added amenities for business travelers,” it boasts on its website.

    “In fact, the complex has staged and hosted everything from large executive events such as seminars, symposiums and trade shows including weddings, graduations and parties.”

    The centre is named for former FIFA president Joao Havelange of Brazil, who agreed to help fund it before stepping down in 1998 after a 24-year reign that was, like that of his successor Sepp Blatter, overshadowed by scandal.

    The complex boasts facilities such as a sprawling 5,000-capacity hall named for Blatter, who announced his resignation last week after US officials indicted Warner and eight other current or former FIFA officials in a sweeping investigation into corruption at world football’s governing body.

    A smaller 140-capacity conference room is named for Nelson Mandela, who helped campaign for FIFA to name South Africa the 2010 World Cup host nation in a vote that US investigators now suspect was swayed by a $10 million bribe paid to Warner.

    – Ownership scandal –

    The scandal over the Centre of Excellence erupted in 2012, 13 years after it was inaugurated and one year after Warner was forced to resign from all posts in international football amid allegations he tried to buy Caribbean officials’ votes for a FIFA presidential election.

    That year, CONCACAF lawyer John Collins caused an uproar at a meeting of the regional football body when he reported that the complex was registered to Warner.

    “I am shell-shocked, dismayed and upset,” then-CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands — now also indicted in the US investigation — said at the time.

    FIFA has sought to wrest ownership of the complex from Warner, but he has insisted it belongs to the Caribbean Football Union, which he also used to run.

    The centre did not reply to requests for an interview.

    Security guards there now shoo away journalists, as they have been doing at all properties in Trinidad and Tobago linked to Warner, a politically powerful lawmaker, since his arrest on May 29 at the request of US authorities.

    An AFP correspondent managed to get as far as the lobby, where a large display case boasts lines of trophies, many of them awarded to Warner, before a security guard asked him to leave.

    – ‘Badge of honor’ –

    Lasana Liburd, a Trinidadian sports journalist who has followed Warner’s activities for two decades, said the centre is the “badge of honor” on the ex-football exec’s scandal-stained reign.

    Intended as the training ground of the Caribbean’s football future, “it has for the most part been used for flea markets and political rallies and everything else,” said Liburd, the editor of sports site wired868.com.

    “I am pretty sure it is the main money spinner for Warner right now,” he told AFP.

    “It is a symbol of Caribbean football and Warner, in that something that could have been used for so much good and empowering the region in terms of sport instead was used for personal gain and profit.”

    du/jhb/sst

  2. Ah ha. Development Officer. Is what he developed beside a big,fat paunch. Lol.

  3. According to Wikipedia article he was a FIFA Development Officer: 2015 FIFA corruption case http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_FIFA_corruption_case

  4. Lol, double his 6 million in earnings? Weren’t they filing in their 1040 that they earned $6,000 a year

  5. Yes he was on some committee or the other

  6. Didn’t know Daryll Warner was a member of FIFA as stated in the above post Leslie-Ann Boisselle.

  7. At Center of FIFA Scandal, a Divisive Politician in Jack Warner PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — The prime minister of this Caribbean republic walked out of a session of Parliament on Friday, angrily chastising a fellow politician and former ally, Jack Warner, who finds himself and his two sons at the center of soccer’s widespread corruption scandal.

    “Here we are now, a focus of the international world, not for the good and great things but because of the actions of one man,” Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, admonished Mr. Warner in a confrontation that dominated the television news here Friday night and the front pages of Saturday’s newspapers.

    A onetime acting prime minister, as well as a former minister of national security and transportation, Mr. Warner, 72, is a polarizing populist, loved and loathed, a man about whom there appears to be no neutral opinion.

    Jack Warner, a former FIFA executive, at a meeting of his Independent Liberal Party in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday.Ex-FIFA Official Jack Warner Threatens to Spill ‘Avalanche’ of SecretsJUNE 4, 2015
    Jack Warner, a former vice president of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, pointed to an article from The Onion in a video posted on his website on Sunday.Open Source: Ex-FIFA Official Cites Satirical Article From The Onion in His Self-DefenseMAY 31, 2015
    Local soccer players in the Annex, a sports facility in George Town, on Grand Cayman Island. The Cayman Islands’ influence in FIFA belies its population of only 58,000.How the Cayman Islands Became a FIFA PowerMAY 30, 2015
    The school in Visp named for Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. Mr. Blatter, who still has an apartment in Visp, lured international soccer stars to the small town.Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s Fallen Chief, Is Held Up as Hero at HomeJUNE 7, 2015
    Four years ago, Mr. Warner lost his lofty position as a vice president of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, in a bribery scandal. Now he stands accused of racketeering by United States authorities, charged with, among other things, taking a $10 million payment to influence voting on South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup. He has denied any wrongdoing. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/08/sports/soccer/at-center-of-fifa-scandal-a-divisive-politician-in-jack-warner.html?_r=0

  8. I think that is the plan Dawn Cameron.

  9. Dawn, I am not making a hero list….not now or ever…but my main issue is the response to TT finally getting justice over Jack…which makes people sound sympathetic toward him…. no wonder the drivel that showed up on Yahoo can’t be properly challenged because of people are responding in a manner which makes it seem like they would rather Jack be left alone…he may be small time on a global scale, but he is big time in T&T and as corrupt as he is and was, he was acting PM because no one brought him to justice, so while I am not making a hero list…I am not about to use this opportunity to point fingers at the US for what they are attempting…

  10. … All should pay, inclusive of the US big wigs. If you going behind one as the fall guy and you have no Agenda then go behind all. Jack’s time will come I am sure.. but he didn’t pay himself, associations in many countries inclusive of the US didn’t just so pay out money without the sanction of their prime ministers, president and/or other top officials to win favour on bidding rights and awards, this is from time memorial so.. the US here isn’t on my hero list .

  11. Debbie Espinal yes I can be a bit cynical at times but trust me when I say I don’t care about what happens to Mr. Warner. What u do in darkness always comes to light. But when you mess up the entire global economy and all you get is a slap on the wrist then I’m still way pissed off about that.

  12. Clint Gordon you sure could have fooled me because your emphasis in all your posts is knocking the US for picking on Jack hence the reason i just got fed up of the whole mess.

  13. Probably, Clint, you should have led with “I am happy” … because otherwise your post sounds like a Sunshine editorial…just saying…

  14. What is actually happening Nicole Ulerie I actually am extremely happy…don’t get me wrong there cause quite frankly I could care less about Jack Warner or anyone who bribes and cheats their way through life. What I hate is a justice system that favors one above the other. Let them all rot in jail.

  15. I also wanna know what rules and regulations were put in place to oversee the mortgage-backed industry after Glass Steagall was struck down that these bankers should have paid with prison time? Anyway this is not a discussion about Glass Steagall or Hobby Lobby having a religion and so do not have to pay the women related birth stuff cause its a Christian company, this is about Jack and FIFA

  16. In this arena, where we are finally seeing some action happening where Jack Warner finally get a taste of jail and proceedings against him are going somewhere…you choose to emphasise equality for white collar crimes…? that’s the take home here? Nobody is saying that only Jack should pay…but here we are and he is being called to account and the best thing you can find to say is “the USA is a hypocrite”? smh

  17. Clint Gordon…the three most useless word in this world are coulda,shoulda and woulda….but you keep on pining for what should have happened…imma deal with what is actually happening

  18. If people talking about hypocrisy….shouldn’t they mention hypocrisy of all parties involved…? At least USA is still trying to bring justice…in this instance…so….what…are we supposed to think that somehow because there is some hypocrisy in what they are not doing in other cases, that *that* is the real issue here, when we as a nation have not been able to get rid of Jack Warner by simply pointing out his crimes or providing proof of them?

  19. Lasana Liburd you have no idea how I abhore white collar crimes. I’m just saying that it should be treated the same way for everyone.

  20. Clint…unless you’re living in some utopia….Jack aint d first person to take a bribe..nor will he be the last…..quite frankly I don’t care about who say who do what….I am only playing with what’s in my hand…..if and when others get charged, that will be dealt with…and if they get away with out ever getting charged…that is the way that cookie will crumble.

  21. Nicole smh indeed….like some don’t care what Jack did to ruin T&T and don’t want to get rid of him…..I say carry on USA…take it to the end…