FIFA imposed a lifetime ban on one of its most notorious former leaders on Tuesday amid calls for an emergency task force to be sent in to run the scandal-tainted body.
Jack Warner — an ex-FIFA vice president and former ally of the body’s president Sepp Blatter — was barred from all football activities by FIFA’s ethics committee over repeated misconduct.
“He was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments,” a committee statement said of the 72-year-old Warner, who previously led CONCACAF, the confederation of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The latest judgement against the thoroughly-tarnished Warner came as the Swiss justice ministry approved the extradition of former Costa Rican federation boss Eduardo Li to the United States, where he faces a range of charges linked to corruption.
Warner and Li were both named in the US justice department indictments that were announced in May and which ignited an unprecedented crisis within world football.
With the scandals continuously widening, there are growing calls for immediate change at the top.
South Korean former FIFA vice president Chung Mong-Joon, who is a candidate to replace Blatter, called for a task force to run football’s world body after Switzerland placed Blatter under criminal investigation for mismanagement.
Blatter, 79, told FIFA staff on Monday that he will stay on as president while cooperating with Swiss prosecutors. He has said he would stand down when a new election is held in February.
Michel Platini, the powerful head of European governing body UEFA has been implicated in the Swiss probe, but has insisted he did nothing wrong as he tries to preserve his hopes of replacing Blatter.
– Wanted in the US –
Warner and Li were both among the 14 people — nine FIFA officials and five sports marketing executives — charged in the US over bribery in football deals worth more than $150 million dating back to 1991.
Warner is facing 12 charges of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, while Li is accused of taking bribes in connection with the sale of sports marketing rights.
Warner is fighting extradition from his homeland in Trinidad and Tobago to the US, with a hearing set for December.
Li appeared to lose that fight on Tuesday, when the Swiss justice ministry approved his transfer to US jurisdiction, although the Costa Rican has 30 days to file an appeal.
Warner’s name has also become central to the Swiss probe targeting Blatter, which is focused in part on a 2005 television rights sale to the Caribbean Football Union, allegedly at a hugely deflated price.
Swiss investigators are also looking at a two million Swiss franc ($2 million) payment made by FIFA to Platini in 2011 for a work reportedly done a decade earlier.
Both Blatter and Platini, still the two most powerful men in world football, insist the payment was legitimate although neither has explained why it took so long to finalise compensation.
– ‘Total meltdown’ –
Chung, a strong candidate to replace Blatter, called Tuesday for an extraordinary executive committee meeting which could establish an emergency task force “that will enable the FIFA secretariat to function without interruption”.
He described the allegations against Blatter as “another sad day” for FIFA and said the organisation, which should be preparing for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, is in “total meltdown”.
Days before Blatter was placed on notice by Swiss authorities, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was suspended over allegations of involvement in tickets sold at inflated prices.
Although Blatter has insisted he will stay in office until February, FIFA’s ethics committee could force him out at any time.
There has been unconfirmed speculation that the panel is set to hear evidence against the Swiss national, possibly leading to suspension, a process that could also implicate Platini.
The former French star’s involvement in an ethics committee review would further complicate the FIFA presidential vote that he had been favoured to win.
Aside from Chung, another leading candidate in the race is Prince Ali bin al Hussein, a former FIFA vice president from Jordan.
Chung said Monday that if elected he will stand for only one term to carry out reforms.
“The most urgent task at hand is to root out corruption from within FIFA,” he said. “Justice must be served.” – Agence France-Presse