Chuck Blazer, the FIFA official who blew the whistle on the biggest bribery scandal in the football body's history, has launched a strongly-worded rebuttal of a full-scale attack on him by former colleague, Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner, describing it as "garbage" and "an amazing work of fiction." In a letter to the Trinidad Guardian this week, Warner laid into Blazer and promised to provide "detailed accounts" of a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) official he claims was guilty of conspiracy against his own colleagues, 16 of whom have been sanctioned by FIFA's Ethics Committee for their roles in the cash-for-votes events of May 10 and 11.
A recorded tape of Warner apparently telling CFU members that taking money from Mohamed bin Hammam was acceptable was used as part of the evidence seen by the Ethics Committee. Warner, former president of CONCACAF, said the CFU official secretly taped the meeting for Blazer-and was rewarded as a result. Blazer, who is en route to Zurich for a series of crucial FIFA meetings which are due to begin tomorrow, said Warner was simply making things worse for himself. "It is an amazing work of fiction," Blazer said. "If Jack has demonstrated anything during this process, it is that he says whatever he wants and then subsequently the facts prove he was lying...The tape is a great example of that.
"I wish I could take credit for having anything to do with the tape, but I didn't...At the time of the taping, I hadn't even spoken with Jack. "In time, the source of the tape will come out, but I had nothing to do with it. "Regarding the other garbage from Warner's mouth, since 1990 he had his personal accountant do the review of our books in New York. "If there was anything wrong, he would have had it reported to him and it would have been addressed. "To the contrary, each year we submitted an audited set of books to the congress and biennial budgets which were accepted and approved by the membership with great happiness over our growth and development, together with the fiscal policies that provided for ample reserves and operating funds."
Also responding to Warner's letter was FIFA ethics committee deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb. He accused Warner, of waging a "smear campaign" against him. Warner claimed that Damaseb-who headed the committee that presided over the expulsion of another former FIFA vice-president, Mohamed bin Hammam, from football for life-had received "gifts" from the expelled Qatari official. He also alleged that Fifa president Sepp Blatter used him and bin Hammam to offer similar "gifts" while running for the post in 1998 and 2002. "We took (Blatter) on a worldwide crusade begging for support for him and he won," Warner wrote.
"That was the first time I met the present deputy chairman of Fifa's Ethics Committee, Petrus Damaseb, at the time the president of the Namibia Football Association. "I will tell the world what gift bin Hammam gave to him then, which was not a bribe then as he has ruled today." However, Damaseb "rubbished" Warner's allegations, which he believes are part of his road to revenge against FIFA. "The only thing I remember is an invitation to dinner at the palatial residence of Mr bin Hammam while I was attending a FIFA congress in Qatar, together with other FA presidents, and a watch (a customary gift in football) which I still have and treasure and which I accepted to be a gift to me as NFA president and a token and expression of his hospitality and friendship," Damaseb told The Namibian.
"As NFA president I received many watches as gifts either from host associations or their functionaries or from Fifa," Damaseb said. "I was not the president of the NFA when Blatter was first elected in 1998 and had never met Blatter, Warner and bin Hammam while they were on a 'worldwide crusade,' as Warner puts it, for Blatter's election. "It is a pity that Warner has chosen to engage in a smear campaign founded on falsehoods."