Sepp Blatter sudden resignation on Tuesday as president of FIFA, four days after he was elected for a fifth term, amid growing and mounting fraud allegations, meant that the Swiss might not be a ‘saint’ after all.
Reason given by Blatter for his action was that it appeared that his presidential mandate by the Fifa congress did “not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football”.
But former Fifa vice-president, Jack Warner, revelation early Thursday in a TV address that he would reveal all he knows about corruption in FIFA, including Blatter, may have been the reason why Blater threw in the towel.
Warner confessed that he has knowledge of transactions involving Blatter.
“I also will give them my knowledge of vital transactions at FIFA including, but not limited to, Sepp Blatter. I have been there for 30 consecutive years. I was a heartbeat away from Blatter,” he said.
Warner, 72, resigned from all football activity in 2011 amid bribery allegations and later stepped down as Trinidad and Tobago’s security minister amid a fraud inquiry.
A key figure in the deepening scandal, he said he had given lawyers documents outlining the links between Fifa, its funding, himself and the 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago. He said the transactions also included Mr Blatter.
“I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country,” he said in an address on Trinidadian TV on Wednesday evening entitled “The gloves are off”.
He promised an “avalanche” of revelations to come, speaking to his supporters at a rally later the same day.
He is one of the 14 people charged by the US over alleged corruption at Fifa.
Another top Fifa official and key witness, American Chuck Blazer, has admitted accepting bribes.
Blazer revealed he had admitted in a 2013 testimony to a New York City judge that he and “others on the FIFA Executive Committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup”.
This was said to have begun “in or around 2004 and continuing through 2011”.
The US justice department alleges the 14 people charged worldwide accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period. Four others have already been charged, including Mr Blazer.
Mr Warner address came hours after the details of Mr Blazer’s 2013 plea bargain came to light, including the admission that he and other officials had accepted bribes in connection with the 2010 World Cup bid, which saw the tournament awarded to South Africa.
Separately on Thursday, South African police said they had opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that its national football association paid a $10m bribe to host the tournament – a claim the authorities deny.
Mr Blazer was the second highest official in Fifa’s North and Central American and Caribbean region (Concacaf) from 1990 to 2011 – serving as general secretary while Mr Warner was president – and also served on Fifa’s executive committee between 1997 and 2013.
Seven of the 14 charged are top Fifa officials who were arrested in Zurich, Switzerland, as they awaited the Fifa congress last week. Two are vice-presidents.
In addition to the US case, Swiss authorities have launched a criminal investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated.
A law enforcement official quoted by Reuters news agency said the FBI, in addition to examining events during Mr Blazer’s time at the helm of Concacaf, was also looking into how Fifa awarded Russia and Qatar the hosting rights for 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Both countries have denied any wrongdoing in the bidding process.
In his first comments since announcing he would step down as Fifa president, Mr Blatter – writing in Fifa’s magazine The Weekly – said: “What matters to me more than anything is that when all of this is over, football is the winner.”
But Swiss authorities confirmed that Blatter, whose reign as FIFA President has been plagued with allegations of corruption and other misdemeanours, was not part of their investigation.