FIFA expands CONCACAF bribery probe

FIFA took down Jack Warner and are now taking aim at his cronies in CONCACAF. AP Writer Graham Dunbar has the details:

ZURICH (AP) — Delving further into a scandal that shook the sport, FIFA will investigate 16 Caribbean soccer leaders about a bribery scandal involving former presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam.

The officials are suspected of being offered or taking $40,000 in cash to back Bin Hammam against FIFA President Sepp Blatter, then denying their actions to investigators led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

FIFA said Thursday the suspects from 11 countries include Colin Klass of Guyana, a
long-standing ally of former Caribbean soccer boss Jack Warner. FIFA said Klass has been provisionally suspended.

The governing body added that the 16 will be invited for new interviews by Freeh’s team as part of an investigation led by Robert Torres, a judge from Guam.

“It is important to note that the investigations are still ongoing, and that it is therefore
possible that further proceedings could be opened in the future,” FIFA said in a
statement.

The list also includes Mark Bob Forde from Barbados, who was a FIFA-approved international referee for almost 20 years.

Haiti federation president Yves Jean-Bart is also under investigation. He made a speech at the FIFA Congress on June 1 criticizing English officials who wanted Blatter’s election delayed while corruption allegations were fully investigated.

Dominican soccer federation president Osiris Guzman and vice president Felix Ledesma are also being investigated.

Ledesema denied being offered bribes to vote for bin Hammam.

“I never received any offers. I think this is all a political case,” he told the AP.

The second wave of cases follows bin Hammam’s life ban last month.

FIFA’s ethics panel also suspended two Caribbean Football Union staffers for one year for their part in distributing the cash-stuffed brown envelopes in a Trinidad hotel.

FIFA invited officials from CFU member countries for “truthful and complete reporting” of what happened during the Qatari candidate’s May 10 campaign visit to Trinidad.

FIFA’s legal process typically means accused officials are called before the ethics panel,
which decides if the evidence demands more investigation and a full hearing weeks later. Those under suspicion face being provisionally suspended from any soccer duty, including contacting other officials and attending national team games.

The scandal threatens to remove some of the Caribbean’s most influential soccer leaders during a busy period of 2014 World Cup qualification matches.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!