The full judgment does not exonerate Bin Hammam, who is also Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president, but overturns his ban for a lack of evidence that the Qatari was involved in the alleged bribery, while raising concerns over his and Warner’s conduct during the May 2011 CFU Trinidad meeting, where 25 regional football officials were given monetary “gifts” of US$40,000 each.
The full ruling, which was released on Tuesday, also refers to a “secret” Caribbean Football Union (CFU) account from which Warner was alleged to have paid former CFU general secretary Chuck Blazer two cheques totalling $2.8 million (US$455,000). The report also says there is “ample evidence” Warner “co-mingled CFU and personal funds” in this account.
Contacted yesterday for a reaction to the report, Francis Joseph, advisor to the Minister of National Security, said the Minister will not issue any response on the matter.
“There will be no statement on that,” Joseph told the Express.
The report questions the timing of the payment to Blazer, stating that there was no “evidence or any explanation” had been given to the CFU for such sizeable payments, only a few weeks before the Trinidad meeting.
The CAS deemed witness statements connecting Bin Hammam to the payments, chiefly those belonging to Warner, as “unreliable”. The panel referred to Warner’s many “contradictory” statements on the matter, and also criticised the former FIFA vice president for his “detached relationship with the truth”.
On this basis, as well as Warner’s failure to take up the CAS request to appear to give evidence in the case, the panel upheld Bin Hammam’s appeal of his lifetime ban from football.
The report said the CAS panel had not, based on witness testimony, ascertained whether Warner actually announced that Bin Hammam had provided “gifts” to the CFU during Bin Hammam’s presence at the May 10 CFU meeting, or the following day at an impromptu meeting of the Caribbean Associations called by Warner.
The report suggested that the unscheduled meeting on May 11, the day after the “gifts” were disbursed, may have been called in the wake of an alleged email sent to Warner by Blazer, and a subsequent phone discussion between the two. That email, however, was not among the evidence provided by FIFA to the panel.
It criticised FIFA for failing to further probe the US account, and for not thoroughly investigating the matter of the alleged bribery, and questioned the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to stop investigations into Warner after he had resigned from FIFA, and all football-related activities, following the scandal.
“It is readily apparent that the investigation carried out by FIFA was neither thorough in respect of the matters that it did address, nor comprehensive in its scope,” the report read. “Of great concern to the Panel is the decision by FIFA to terminate the investigation of Mr Warner when he resigned from FIFA.”
In light of FIFA’s impending introduction of two new ethics committees — one to investigate ethics matters and another to adjudicate on them — the panel have left open the possibility of FIFA reopening the case, should new information be provided.
The Express was unsuccessful in attempts yesterday to contact CFU officials in Jamaica for a response on the report, while up to press time last night, CFU general secretary Damien Hughes had not replied to an email sent to him on the matter.