Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Adjudicatory Chamber of the independent FIFA Ethics Committee has banned former FIFA Vice President and former CONCACAF President Jack Warner from football for life, four years after he resigned his posts in international football. It is not the first time that Warner has been subject to a FIFA investigation or ban.
On 25 May 2011, the independent Ethics Committee – which is funded by FIFA who appoint its staff – opened an investigation into Warner, over alleged bribery in relation to the FIFA Presidential elections. However, all Ethics Committee procedures against him were closed after he resigned his posts in international football in June 2011.
Despite this resignation, he was ‘provisionally banned’ from football by the Ethics Committee on 27 May 2015. Today’s decision turns that ‘provisional ban’ into an actual ban, which applies despite his resignation from international football in 2011.
‘The decision was taken on the basis of investigations carried out by the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee following its report on the inquiry into the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process’, read a statement issued by the independent Ethics committee – but FIFA branded – today. ‘The chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, Dr Cornel Borbély, who took over the chairmanship from his predecessor in late December 2014, immediately opened the investigation into Mr Warner’s activities in January 2015’.
However, no record of the opening of that investigation can be found on the FIFA internet site. ‘In accordance with Art. 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics and in order not to jeopardise ongoing proceedings, only the final decision of the adjudicatory chamber may be made public’, emphasised a February 2015 Ethics Committee statement. In December 2014, the FIFA Executive Committee agreed to publish a report into the 2018/22 FIFA World Cup bidding process prepared by the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, but only ‘once the ongoing procedures against individuals are concluded’. As illustrated, the Code of Ethics prevents FIFA from revealing who they are investigating, so a final publication deadline for this report may never emerge.
‘Mr Warner was found to have committed many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official in different high-ranking and influential positions at FIFA and CONCACAF’, read today’s FIFA statement. ‘In his positions as a football official, he was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes. He was found guilty of violations of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), art. 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting), art. 19 (Conflicts of interest), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and art. 41 (Obligation of the parties to collaborate) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.’ The statement did not provide specifics on the offences Warner has been judged to have committed.
FIFA said that the ban is effective from 25 September 2015, almost four years after Warner resigned all his posts in international football. Warner is currently subject to US extradition proceedings over various allegations made in the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) 161-page indictment against FIFA officials and associates. It is understood that Warner’s lawyers have managed to delay extradition proceedings – which have been approved by Trinidad & Tobago authorities – until 2 December.
On 14 September, the DoJ confirmed that it had widened the scope of its investigation into FIFA, and ‘additional charges’ could follow. Last week, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) opened criminal proceedings against FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, who is accused of agreeing a contract with Warner allowing him to take control of World Cup TV rights for below their true market value. The OAG are also investigating why UEFA President Michel Platini was not paid for work he carried out for FIFA from 1999 to 2002 until 2011.
Blatter insists that he has done nothing wrong. ‘President Blatter spoke to FIFA staff today and informed the staff that he was cooperating with the authorities, reiterated that he had done nothing illegal or improper and stated that he would remain as president of FIFA’, read a statement e-mailed from his US Attorney, appointed in early June following the 27 May DoJ indictment. ‘On the Platini matter, President Blatter on Friday shared with the Swiss authorities the fact that Mr. Platini had a valuable employment relationship with FIFA serving as an advisor to the President beginning in 1998. He explained to the prosecutors that the payments were valid compensation and nothing more and were properly accounted for within FIFA including the withholding of Social Security contributions.’
The statement did not explain why Platini was not paid until February 2011, just after FIFA’s November 2010 appointment of Russia and Qatar as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, respectively. Platini recently admitted that he changed his vote to Qatar at the last minute. In May 2011, he confirmed that he would not stand against Blatter in a FIFA Presidential election. In 2011, Platini was urged to explain the reasons behind the delay in payment, but he has yet to do so, four years later.
Jim Walden, Managing Partner at Walden, Macht & Haran LLP and Attorney for Dr. Grigory...