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Warner predicts 'football tsunami' will hit FIFA

Published:Sunday | May 29, 2011 | 12:00 AM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):

An unfazed Austin 'Jack' Warner has warned football's world governing body, FIFA, of a pending 'tsunami', as he prepares to defend himself against allegations of bribery before the organisation's ethics committee today.

Warner, a powerful FIFA vice-president, is to appear before the committee in Zurich, accused along with FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam, of offering bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) at a meeting here in exchange for votes in the FIFA presidential elections on Wednesday.

"I tell you something, in the next couple days you will see a football tsunami that will hit FIFA and the world that will shock you ...," said Warner who heads CFU and also CONCACAF, the continental governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean.

"The time has come when I must stop playing dead so you'll see it, it's coming, trust me you'll see it by now and Monday.

"I have been here for 29 consecutive years and if the worst happens, the worst happens," he told reporters during a break during the meeting of the Parliament.

Warner, who is also the Minister of Works and Transport, said he was prepared to walk away from FIFA.

"If that is what it comes to so be it, you must never get too attached to anything, it clouds your judgement and therefore whatever happens, happens, que sera sera. I am not even remotely bothered.

"I had planned to leave Saturday morning in any case, because I have meetings on Sunday afternoon ... . They can do what they want, it doesn't bother me."

He told reporters he was also not afraid of anyone going into the meeting.

"I have lived three score and almost 10 and my Jack hasn't been hanged as yet, why should it be hung now? By whom? The American Chuck Blazer? His American lawyer John Collins? Give me a break. I am not the faint-hearted you know ...

"Let them go ahead, I have no problem with that. But I'll tell you something, I will hold my head high to the very end because, I repeat here again, I am not guilty of a single iota of wrongdoing."

Warner also faces another probe into allegations of unethical behaviour in a British lawmakers' hearing this month.

The former head of England's failed 2018 World Cup bid, Lord David Triesman, has alleged Warner asked for money to build an education centre and buy 2010 World Cup broadcast rights for Haiti.

An email from Warner to Triesman in February 2010 was released by the BBC, where Warner urged the FA to contribute towards the cost of purchasing the rights to show World Cup matches on giant screens in Haiti.

Warner said all these attacks and allegations against him were driven by envy.

"I am in FIFA for 29 consecutive years, I was the first black man to have ever been in FIFA at this level. I have come from the smallest country ever to be on the FIFA executive committee," he contended.

"There is no country smaller than Trinidad and Tobago on FIFA's executive committee. I am wielding more power in FIFA now than sometimes even the president, I must be the envy of others.

"In terms of football history, my country does not even have one, and therefore, there are people out there who would ask why should I be there and what is my role, so I become the butt of all kinds of attacks and I accept this without any kind of anger because I understand people, this is the nature of human beings," he added.

Warner said both England and the United States were upset with him because they did not win the bid to host the World Cups.

"The US is accusing me of not working hard enough for them. What more you want me to do, go in the people house and sleep with them? I can't do that! I did for the US all I could have done.

"This is an election time in FIFA, it happens every time ... especially when there is a contender," Warner said, noting that the last time FIFA president Sepp Blatter had a contender was in 2002 and then too, there was heated controversy.

"FIFA politics is far bigger than the politics you have seen here. It makes our politics here look like child's play. Now at the end of the day, if even the worst happens, I'm still president of CONCACAF," he added.