Soccer

Two former CONCACAF officials accused of fraud

 

Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Chuck Blazer of the U.S. are accused of serious violations by a CONCACAF ethics panel.

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

Jack Warner, once one of the world’s most powerful soccer executives, resigned on Sunday as national security minister of Trinidad and Tobago after an ethics panel of the Confederation of North and Central American and Central Football (CONCACAF) accused him and another top regional soccer official of fraud and embezzlement.

Former CONCACAF secretary general Chuck Blazer of the United States is the other person accused of fraud in the 133-page report, released last Friday. Warner and Blazer stepped down from their CONCACAF posts in 2011. Both have denied the allegations.

Warner resigned as president of CONCACAF and vice president of FIFA in June 2011 amid accusations of participating in a cash-for-votes scandal along with then-Asian federation president Mohamed bin Hammam. Warner has faced corruption and bribery charges dating to the 1980s.

Neither he nor Blazer cooperated with the CONCACAF probe.

In 2011, Warner was accused of attempting to bribe Caribbean delegates $40,000 each to vote for Bin Hamman for FIFA president. He was also alleged to have embezzled $15 million of federation funds, and misappropriated $1 million in FIFA money earmarked for a reconstruction project in Haiti. According to the report, he also failed to disclose that the $25.9 million Havelange Centre for Excellence in Port of Spain, built with federation funds, sits on land he owns.

Warner and Blazer were deemed “fraudulent in their management’’ of the soccer confederation by David Simmons, the head of the integrity committee. The report was based on documents and interviews with 38 people.

“I have recounted a sad and sorry tale in the life of CONCACAF, a tale of abuse of position and power, by persons who assisted in bringing the organization to profitability but who enriched themselves at the expense of their very own organizations,’’ said Simmons, a former chief justice in Barbados.

Warner released a statement dismissing the report’s findings.

“I left CONCACAF and turned my back on football two years ago. Since then I have had no interest in any football-related matter. CONCACAF’s report today is of no concern to me and as far as I am aware, it is baseless and malicious.

“If after 20 years of being the president of CONCACAF all its committee could have found is some baseless claim against me involving the Center of Excellence, then I will continue to sleep very soundly at nights.’’

Simmons said Blazer pocketed $17 million in commission during his two decades with CONCACAF.

Blazer is stepping down from the FIFA executive committee at the end of May and will be replaced by Sunil Gulati of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

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