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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 managing director and chief 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.

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178 comments

  1. Nicole Ulerie I don’t care about neither of them. They did their crimes and they all deserve to stand in a court of law to defend themselves. I’m just pointing out the slight hypocrisy of this fiasco where zero bank executives have been made to pay for their fraudulent activities in sinking the entire global economy in 2008. They all were greeted on Capitol Hill with a slap on the wrist.

  2. TTFF paid for UNC dinner

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2015-06-05/ttff-paid-unc-dinner

    Rhondor Dowlat
    Published:
    Friday, June 5, 2015

    ILP political leader Jack Warner addresses supporters during a meeting at Battoo Street, Marabella, on Wednesday night. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
    T&T Football Association (TTFA) president, Raymond Tim Kee is now corroborating at least part of the claims by former Fifa vice-president, Caribbean Football union president and TTFF adviser Jack Warner that he (Warner) funded the People’s Partnership 2010 general election campaign.

    There is currently a war of words between Warner and the People’s Partnership over his claims that he funded the party’s election campaign with money sourced through his Fifa dealings.

    While Warner is stickling to those claims and has allegedly provided information to a group of attorneys to prove this, the UNC continues to deny the claim.

    But speaking exclusively to the T&T Guardian yesterday, Tim Kee said he knew for a fact that former Warner used his own money to fund at least one UNC event which he (Tim Kee) had knowledge of.

    Tim Kee was referring to an invoice he allegedly received from a popular hotel and conference centre in Port-of-Spain which had billed the TTFA for a “UNC Banquet Dinner.”

    Although initially admitting to not really wanting to let the “cat-out-of-the-bag,” Tim Kee said, “I don’t want to make it an issue yet. I have to find the document first.”

    He added, “I know of this because with the invoice were some notes which indicated the items.”

    Tim Kee also assured that he knew for a fact that Warner took money from the TTFF which went straight to the UNC.

    “The man took our money and gave it to politics,” he said.

    Tim Kee said Warner was committed to the UNC cause in 2010.

    “Knowing Mr Warner as I do, he does not give up until he comes to the end of his effort and all strategies, for which he is well known, were applied in that effort to put the UNC party into power,” he said, saying he was sure Warner used the monies he would have acquired from Fifa to spend in the 2010 election.

    “I would think it is public knowledge when he became chairman, he had a goal and that goal was to take the UNC party into government,” he said.

    Similar football strategy

    Tim Kee explained that Warner had a similar behaviour and strategy in football and in the earlier years mortgaged his house in a bid to raise money for football and to take care of some other expenses in relation to the sport.

    “That was the sort of passion he (Warner) had demonstrated over the years for local football. What happens subsequent to those years I am not in a position to converse on and comment,” he said.

    During an address to the nation on Wednesday night, Warner, a former national security minister and now political leader of the Independent Liberal Party, reiterated that there was a link between Fifa’s millions and the PP’s 2010 campaign.

    He disclosed that he had compiled a series of cheques and supporting documents that would corroborate his financial support to the PP’s successful general campaign in 2010. The documents, Warner said, were already in the hands of attorneys.

    Warner is currently out on $2.5 million bail after he appeared in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court on charges of corruption and racketeering conspiracy in relation to his dealings with Fifa, stemming out of an indictment by the US government, which is now seeking to extradite him to the US to face those charges.

  3. Thanks for your two cents Clint. So is it that you think no one should be arrested for white collar crime until Koch is? That makes for a better world to you?

  4. USA could do whatever, I am not living there…Jack has done too much and our justice system is not doing anything so I say kudos to USA for at least attempting to bring Jack to justice…and hopefully get him out of our hair…who am I to point fingers at USA when they are doing our country a favour, in trying to bring Jack to justice?

  5. If you think the Koch Brothers don’t bribe members of Congress to do their dirty work then I’m probably living on Mars. Whether it’s an election cycle or not…unlimited money into any governing body makes the process ripe for corruption. Just my 2 cents.

  6. Clint sounding just like people that saying leave Jack cuz Ish and Steve still here…smh

  7. Citizens United? How does a company having the right of a person do anything on this level?

  8. cha-guanas west…lol Jack asking for respect…

  9. I think America convicting anyone of bribery is laughable when Citizens United made doing the same thing constitutional.

  10. Blatter ‘knew about SA payment’

    Sepp Blatter must have known about the 10million US dollar payment sent from a FIFA account to the disgraced former vice-president Jack Warner, the former UEFA president Lennart Johansson has claimed. https://sport.bt.com/sport-football/news/blatter-knew-about-sa-payment-S11363985041176

  11. He quit in his 5th term , the mere fact that he could be at the helm of world governing body of anything is blatant corruption by itself these things happen because we constantly told we are free all the while being forced to obey , sheep cows an most free range animals have similar lives without the consumerism an distractions human are subjected to so we never have time to think critically and act accordingly so the nastiness that pass as western freedoom runs amuck on the simple human until it sinks so bad it brakes an MSM steps in an downplays spins the mess into that’s nothing really there’s more Financial fraud going on world wide in the last 24 years that will make JAW & company numbers look like child’s play what take place ? Banks that stole trillions being charged billions none of dear CEO’ CFO’ CIO’ COO’ facing extradition or Interpol has warrants for them actually they get bonuses from taxpayer bail out money

  12. Damn straight USA i’m glad you played well. You did what our governments didn’t have the balls to do which is to get that corrupt bastard off our backs and hopefully in a jail. Hope you press for Ish and Steve too.

  13. The irony of all this is that the US supreme court has made bribery legal in their electoral process. I guess money funneling in from the Koch Brothers to buy politicians isn’t bribery…it’s constitutional. Well played America…well played.

  14. Lasana Liburd Saw you on BBC 4.00PM News at the JacK Warner press conference last night. You’re the Man.

  15. You feel anybody going to Panama In this Town Judy-ann Stewart??? They so damn boldface with deyself that they sure their UNC die hards will still vote for them. It will take the FBI to swoop down here and pick up all of them before we see that and God face.

  16. John Gill, I have always felt that some people would have been looking at the election results from Panama … and that was before this FIFA nonsense!

  17. Judy-ann Stewart they have sufficient money to buy a luxury air bus to take all of them to Panama……….Kamla, Sewerage and Moonilal already booked.
    I am so hoping that Jack Warner could in some way reveal empirical evidence that implicated Winston Cuffy to the money laundering……..I couldn’t be “seriouser.”

  18. Yuh know, if not now, then when should corruption be investigated and prosecuted? We haven’t done it but no one else should?

  19. Best news i heard today, Chung Mong-joon, to consider running for Fifa presidency…. If anyone can make a difference, without being tainted, it will be him…..

  20. ???? Brian TriniOne Lewis. I asked a simple question. Who is shouting at whom? If we cannot engage in civil and intelligent discourse without ridicule then…. ????

  21. Kenneth:Seriously, shouting at me over this issue is far too emotive to utilize my time. If you like to drink Kool Aid without thinking beyond the mug of juice, that is you. Every one here know FIFA is corrupt. That is not the issue. Just stay there and follow the lead blindly without question.

  22. Lasana, the media, like politicians are free to say whatever they want. The fact is ‘today is today and yesterday is yesterday’ and it very well be that Blatter would not resign just as he may indeed do so. The interpretation by the western media is as it is for all propaganda machinery. Geopolitricks are always in motion. FIFA was always corrupt and few would ask – ‘Why now?’ and ‘Why so?’

    At the end of this I see a few things coming about in the coming years – Russia and Qatar would not host the World Cups and USA and England may. Also, the one nation / one vote would be squashed and the reasons given would be pushed down our throats as ‘reasonable’ and those of you who don’t see shall readily agree.

    As such racism and violence, as is the innate nature of these nations, shall regain prominence and be the accepted norm of the New World (order).

  23. They will have to have a direct flight because if they stop anywhere…

  24. Is ah whole set ah dem moving to Panama

  25. this story is very thin. the Washington Post’s standards needs tightening up. maybe they should read Wired868?

  26. So Step Ladder will be around for another 4 months to secure his funds in a Cook Island trust and hopefully move to his new hometown in Panama

  27. CNN says that FIFA’s constitution requires 4 months notice in the event of resignation.

  28. Btw Dennis – disagree with your last part about the automotive industry but the rest is fact.

  29. You could never convince me that these sponsors who have nothing to say about hundreds of deaths of migrant workers in Qatar building World Cup infrastructure gave a damn to force Blatter out over a financial scandal.

  30. Lasana, it turns out Blazer testified that there was agreement among a group of FIFA Officials to accept bribes to award South Africa the 2010 World Cup. The letter wasn’t enough and that is probably what drove Sepp to resign. He was of course the one who championed that award.

  31. i’m VERY uncomfortable with the role the media seems to be willing to assign to the sponsors.
    If people think that a FIFA run by Sepp & Jack was bad—wait till a private company starts calling the shots.
    Banks: BILLIONS in fines levied against most of the leading banks
    Sports shoe and equipment: near-slave labour standards in the sweatshops
    Automotive: backing fossil fuel consumption because alternative fuel development costs are too high.

  32. who me? no, the dead guy. ohhhhhh

  33. and if yuh could teef from Haiti yuh could teef from a vagrant eh…..

  34. Been saying that all along Lasana Liburd…We all have to play with the hands we’re dealt…so if there is evidence of crimes committed by 20 out of 20k…prosecute the 20….I’m not going to sit here and say others also committed crimes so let the rest slide…and if taking bribes, illegally profiting off of World Cup tickets and stealing from HAITI is not considered corruption….we even worse off than we ever thought we were at this point

  35. Brian TriniOne Lewis, Blatter didn’t say resign. But he didn’t say intend to resign either. He has conceded his mandate and will step down as soon as the new president is elected.
    Many reporters including me interpreted that to mean he has resigned, effective the next general council. You might not.
    Either way, he has promised to leave after the election between December 2015 and March 2016. No matter what anyone things about his statement, that fact is constant in all reports and is the crux of the matter.
    As for geopolitics, Jack Warner and company are being tried for racketeering and not for taking the World Cup to Qatar.
    If, as you say, this has nothing to do with corruption, then those men have nothing to worry about. They will be declared innocent of all charges.
    If they are guilty of corruption, then I think it disingenuous to say that their case isn’t about corruption. Such talk is for innocent men to say.
    That “why don’t you go after the real criminals” bit is laughable in a mature society.

  36. Kenny was for Jack’s special projects. Lol

  37. Ahhh… KPMG. Jack Warner’s favourite accounting firm… And still the accountants for the TTFA.

  38. “KPMG was also the auditor and adviser for the official Russia and Qatar organizing committees when they prepared the winning bids that are now targeted in corruption investigations in the U.S. and Switzerland.”

  39. Sepp Blatter is still in the job as President until a new elections is held.

  40. Official says FBI probe includes 2018 and 2022 World Cup host awards – Reuters

    Here’s a news break from Reuters:

    The FBI’s investigation of soccer governing body FIFA includes scrutiny of how the organization awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 competition to Qatar, a US law enforcement official said.

    The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the review of the awards to host the tournament would be part of a probe that is looking beyond the allegations in an indictment announced a week ago of officials of world soccer’s governing body.

    Swiss prosecutors said then that they were investigating the 2018 and 2022 bids.

  41. Yeah have been following Lasana’s writings as well, he is our own Jennings when it comes to this story

  42. Shva, you can check http://www.wired868.com for all Andrew Jennings stories.