The much awaited hearing of top FIFA officials by the FIFA Ethics Committee was held yesterday in Zurich. And after the hearing the committee announced that executive committee members Mohammed bin Hammam and Jack Warner have been provisionally suspended, while its president Joseph S. Blatter has been cleared of any wrong doing.
After the suspension the football governing body will now open a full investigation into allegations that financial incentives were offered to members of the Caribbean Football Union by Mr. bin Hammam on advice from Jack Warner at a meeting organised by Jack Warner in Trinidad on May 10/11. Mr. bin Hammam had confessed that he had taken care of the costs involved (flights, accommodation) for the CFU members, but had not done anything else wrong.
Now the issue which has hit FIFA is that Jack Warner is said to have advised Mr. bin Hammam to pay incentives to CFU members to vote for him. Depending on importance and size these football associations was offered between 10,000 to 40,000 USD. Mr. bin Hamman is said to have arrived with 1 Million USD in cash stacked in bundles of 10,000 USD and what was supposed to happen to the rest of the cash is unknown, but likely an incentive for Jack Warner to have organised the meeting.
Jack Warner had told everyone to keep the payment a secret, but there have been whistle blowers amongst the CFU members who passed on the information to executive member Chuck Blazer from the United States who in turn informed FIFA headquarters.
Interestingly Mr. bin Hammam claimed that Sepp Blatter knew about what was going on Trinidad, but didn't step in while it isn't clear if Jack Warner had spoken about the incentive with Sepp Blatter.
For the Asian Football Confederation president and until yesterday FIFA presidency contestant Mohammed bin Hammam the whole verdict is not unstandable as he fails to understand how despite him not being found guilty, he has been suspended.
"I have been referred to the Ethics Committee based on evidence which was strong enough in the views of the FIFA General Secretary for such procedure. However, the Ethics Committee in it's meeting did not find this evidence sufficient to convict me. Consequently, I should have been given the benefit of doubt but instead, I have been banned from all football activities."
And it seems FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke is the man whom Mr. bin Hammam is blaming for the whole situation as he added, "I have been given the impression that the Ethics Committee is absolutely an independent committee, but in the press conference we have seen today, the General Secretary made clear that he is the one who has the influence in this Committee."
"I'm very disappointed about the way the status of the proceeding has been presented at the media conference. I am expecting that this will continue. This is not how I understand fair play. I’m reserving all my rights," added Mr. bin Hammam.
The other accused Jack Warner claimed that, at the CONCACAF Congress on May 3 in Miami, Blatter gave "a gift of 1 million USD to CONCACAF to spend as it deems fit" despite the "annoyance" of UEFA president Michel Platini.
Warner alleged that Valcke silenced Platini's protestations by insisting he would "find the money for Mr Blatter" although the payment was not authorized by the Finance Committee. Warner further alleged that Blatter gave the CFU "gifts of laptops and projectors" on May 10.
Further Warner has said that in private conversations Jerome Valcke has suggested that Qatar had bought the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said at the FIFA organised press conference that the FIFA presidential election would go ahead as planned on June 1, with incumbent Sepp Blatter now running unopposed. And when asked by journalists Jerome Valcke added only the FIFA Congress could postpone the presidential elections.
Is seems we will have three interesting days ahead of us...