NEW YORK - Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner was arrested in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, hours after US prosecutors claimed he accepted bribes during host selections for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups in France and South Africa.
The charge that choice of those countries was tainted by corruption was just a fraction of the allegations aimed at some of football’s most influential decision-makers.
The Trinidadian’s name was on a list of nine current or former FIFA officials and five business executives who “abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in New York.
Warner, 72, protested his innocence on Facebook, but later surrendered to authorities in his native Trinidad and Tobago and appeared in a Port of Spain court before a judge who set his bail at $394,000, according to local media.
It was unclear whether Warner would remain in jail overnight, the Trinidad Express reported.
“Mr Warner is entitled to a fair extradition process and both the requesting and requested states intend to abide by the provisions of the treaty to ensure that Mr Warner’s rights are respected,” the Trinidad and Tobago attorney general said in a statement.
US authorities say Warner had harnessed his power at the highest levels of football administration as far back as the early 1990s for personal gain.
Part of the lengthy indictment reads: “Among other things, Warner began to solicit and accept bribes in connection with his official duties, including the selection of the host nation for the World Cups held in 1998 and 2010, which he participated in as a member of the FIFA executive committee.” Warner, who left FIFA in 2011 after being suspended by an ethics committee looking into corruption, was also CONCACAF president and a special advisor to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF).
Earlier Wednesday he denied any wrongdoing.
He said he was no longer involved in global football administration, but found the timing of the revelation of the US indictments – two days before a FIFA presidential election that could keep embattled Sepp Blatter in control – was noteworthy.
“The actions of FIFA no longer concern me,” Warner said in a statement.
“I cannot help but note, however, that these cross-border coordinated actions come at a time when FIFA is assembled for elections to select a president who is universally disliked by the international community.”