Blatter faces new bribery claims

Former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner threatens 'tsunami' of allegations against football chief
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The Independent Football

Jack Warner is threatening to overshadow Sepp Blatter's attempts to instigate major reform within Fifa in response to allegations of corruption made against several members of the Executive-committee that oversees the running of world football's governing body.

In Zurich on Friday, Mr Blatter is set to announce significant changes to the structure of Fifa after a two-day meeting of the Ex-co. If the Ex-co accepts the Fifa president's reported proposals, it will lead to a broadening of the Ex-co itself to include members from clubs and leagues – at the moment it consists of those voted by the five confederations plus vice presidents – a fit and proper persons test for all Ex-co members, an independent ethics committee, a solutions committee, again made up of external members to consider issues affecting the game, and a change to the way the World Cup hosts are chosen.

Much of the scandal that has enveloped Fifa erupted around the bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals, eventually awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. Instead of the Ex-co members, the hosts would be chosen by a vote of Fifa's congress, which is made up of all 208 national associations.

If all of those reforms are agreed it would be a significant change to the way Fifa is run. Most notably it would answer political calls from the UK and elsewhere in Europe for an independent element to investigate any suggested corrupt practices by members. Currently the Ethics Committee is an integrated Fifa body. Club and league representation on the Ex-co would also be a significant acceptance of their burgeoning power in the game.

Mr Warner, previously a key Blatter ally during his 13 years as president, resigned in June during an investigation into whether he and Mohamed bin Hammam tried to bribe members of Caribbean national associations during Mr Bin Hammam's aborted presidential campaign. In a 1,300-word letter to the Trinidad Guardian, Mr Warner promised that the "tsunami" of allegations he had promised in June of last year "would come" once Mr Bin Hammam's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport had been heard. Mr Bin Hammam is appealing against his life ban.

Mr Warner wrote: "Let me assure all that the promised tsunami will come. All the real 'gifts' that Blatter gave to secure his two elections will turn stomachs inside out." He continued: "What is now even more interesting is that in spite of being a senior Fifa official for 23 years and serving as the Fifa's 8th president for a period of 13 years, Sepp Blatter now suddenly sees the need to reform within in his last term of office and in the sunset of the Fifa from his days."

The BBC also reported last night that Mr Blatter was considering stopping attempts by Fifa to block the release of documents that senior officials took bribes. The documents relate to the collapse of the marketing firm ISL. Last year lawyers for Fifa paid £3.9m to settle the case in a Swiss court and keep secret the names of those accused.