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ZURICH—Four years after stepping down in disgrace, former FIFA vice president Jack Warner was banned from soccer for life yesterday, accused of repeated acts of bribery related to World Cup bidding votes.

 

Warner, a long-time ally of president Sepp Blatter who was allowed to resign from FIFA in 2011 with his “presumption of innocence” maintained, is currently fighting extradition from T&T on US charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering.

However, Warner remained defiant in the face of the move by FIFA, saying the action was a mere smoke screen designed to divert suspicion away from Blatter himself.

“I left the FIFA in April 2011 and if in September 2015 (some four years and five months after) the FIFA wants to ban me for life without even a hearing then so be it,” 

Warner said in statement yesterday.

“I do not believe however that this will serve as the distraction to the FIFA’s present problems as the FIFA wishes it to be. Given what is happening in Zurich with Sepp Blatter I guess that there is no such thing as a coincidence.”

The decision by the FIFA ethics committee yesterday showed that judge Hans-Joachim Eckert will pursue officials long after they have left their jobs.

A more pressing case for the ethics body is an investigation into Blatter, who was interrogated by Swiss prosecutors last Friday in part over allegations he undervalued the awarding of World Cup television rights to Warner. 

Blatter, who denies wrongdoing, is also at risk of being suspended by his own organisation.

Warner’s lifetime FIFA ban stems from Eckert’s report on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

As leader of the CONCACAF region from 1990-2011, Warner gained considerable influence in World Cup votes by the FIFA executive committee and now the extent of his wrongdoing has been reinforced by Eckert.

“Mr Warner was found to have committed many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official in different high-ranking and influential positions at FIFA and CONCACAF.

“In his positions as a football official, he was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes,” the FIFA statement said.

The case highlights how the specter of corruption has hung over FIFA under Blatter’s 17-year presidency. (AP)

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