Does Warner’s exit put Qatar World Cup at risk?
First reaction: whiff of scandal remains as Warner walks away from football
The news that Jack Warner, the man at the centre of the Fifa corruption scandal, has resigned from football's governing body and therefore cleverly escaped an investigation into bribery claims, has unsurprisingly been greeted with cynicism by the British media.
It's not just the fact that Warner appears to have wriggled off the hook that has angered them, it is the send-off he has been afforded. The body said it "appreciated" his contribution to football during the 28 years he spent on the executive committee. It also announced that as he had quit before the investigation into bribery claims then "the presumption of innocence is maintained."
Warner has escaped justice. The Daily Mail kicks off its coverage by noting: "One of Fifa's dirty rats has escaped." And the editorial remarks: "His resignation means the football world have been denied a rigorous investigation into his role in the alleged bribery and corruption. So, while Warner has gone, the bad smell remains."
It doesn't bode well for a new era of transparency. Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of Fifa earlier this month in an unopposed election after his only rival, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, pulled out of the race and was suspended, along with Warner, over allegations of bribery in the Caribbean.
The episode did prompt Blatter to acknowledge that the game needed to be cleaned up and he said he was the man for the job. But the BBC sports editor David Bond says the manner of Warner's exit does not inspire confidence.
"In announcing his resignation on Monday, Fifa said all matters relating to the ethics committee investigation were closed with Warner presumed innocent (neat phrase, that)," he writes. "This is Blatter's old Fifa at work. A deal done behind the scenes leaving us all wondering what really went on. This is exactly what Blatter was promising to change when he was given another overwhelming vote of confidence."
Warner's resignation could undermine other investigations. Several commentators suggest Warner will want to keep a low profile now he has finally left Fifa. Back in Trinidad and Tobago, where he is minister of works in the ruling government and president of the United National Congress party, his travails were being exploited by his political opponents.
Matt Scott in the Guardian fears Warner's departure may leave other questions unanswered. "The opportunity for further investigation into the allegations against Bin Hammam may also have been compromised by his resignation. Warner, who would be a primary witness, can no longer be obliged to give evidence since he is no longer bound by football's statutes."
But could he decide to take down his enemies? Charles Sale, writing in the Mail, thinks there will be victims. "The fact Warner reaffirmed his promise to co-operate with the ongoing overall inquiry means there is no way Bin Hammam can survive," he says.
He says Warner's allies in the Caribbean will also take revenge on Chuck Blazer of the US, who blew the whistle on Warner and Bin Hammam.
As usual with Fifa, all roads point to Qatar. Owen Slot in the Times predicts Warner's demise will add to the furore and controversy over the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
"Now that Warner, it seems, is dead and buried, the question is: to what extent any of this will touch Qatar?" he asks. "But as Fifa’s strange version of justice creeps closer to bin Hammam, it simultaneously moves closer to Qatar 2022.
"It was Chuck Blazer, the American, who delivered the information to bring down bin Hammam. As losers in the bid for the 2022 World Cup, the United States are surely just waiting for the most opportune time to launch an official challenge to Qatar's victory." ·
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