Warner and Blazer must face the law, says FIFA official

Reuters, Wednesday 29 May 2013


Former CONCACAF leaders Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer should face the full force of the law for their alleged misdemeanors during the two decades that they ran the confederation, Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA's Audit and Compliance Committee said on Wednesday.

"In the case of Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer this has far bigger implications than just (FIFA's) Ethics Committee, or the rules of the game," Scala said at a rare media briefing the day before FIFA's annual congress starts.

"There is sufficient suspicion that they have gone against the law and this will become an issue for the FBI and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) in the case of taxation.

"So here the Ethics Committee and the world of FIFA stops - and people who have gone against the law will have to deal with the law."

Former FIFA vice-president Warner from Trinidad & Tobago, who was the president of CONCACAF for 21 years, and Blazer of the United States, his general secretary for most of that time, were both members of FIFA's executive committee.

Warner turned his back on football after being implicated in a bribery scandal in 2011, while Blazer has also left the game although, on a technicality, he is suspended from FIFA's executive committee until Friday.

The two men were vilified in a report commissioned by CONCACAF, the confederation responsible for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, and published at their Congress in Panama in April after the examination of 5,000 documents and the testimony of 38 individuals.

"If you read the CONCACAF integrity report it does not say anything positive or polite (about them)," said Scala, a 48-year-old Swiss industrialist who is charged with enforcing new financial controls at FIFA as well as guiding the body's reform process on to the statute books.

"It's a horrible document so therefore whatever they are saying today is frankly useless and worthless because, over an extended period of time, they abused the system.

"I cannot judge on the other cases (of FIFA corruption) as I have no insights but I think it is a stretch to say now that what happened in CONCACAF happened in all the confederations.

"But here we have two individuals who behaved the way they did. Do we have other cases like this at FIFA? Maybe, I don't know, but we have to face facts; we have to be very careful of accusing everybody because we have had 10 years of accusations and allegations and suspicions."

Scala said he had spoken to Warner's successor as CONCACAF president, Jeffrey Webb, adding: "I said this to the new CONCACAF president - this issue is now one for the government entities and has passed (beyond) the FIFA world."

Scala said that as a result of greater scrutiny of FIFA's planned development grants, projects in seven countries had been halted because of concerns over accounting.

"From now on, no matter what went on in the past, we are going to make sure that FIFA's development money is used for the purpose it is intended," he said.

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