FIFA bans Jack Warner as Michel Platini says 'determined' to run for president
FIFA banned one of its most notorious former leaders for life on Tuesday as president Sepp Blatter`s heir-apparent, Michel Platini, reiterated his determination to stand for the leadership.
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 Blatter -- was barred from all football activities by FIFA`s ethics committee over repeated misconduct.
Platini, speaking exclusively to AFP, insisted: "I am still determined to present myself as a candidate for the FIFA Presidency so I can introduce the governance reforms that are necessary to restore the order and credibility to world football."
But dismissing speculation that he had received "disloyal" payments from Blatter, Platini said his conscience was clear.
"There is no doubt about my integrity. I have done nothing wrong. That is why I have made myself fully available to cooperate with the relevant bodies and authorities to clarify whatever may be necessary," he added.
He defended receiving a two million Swiss franc ($2 million dollar) payment from the world body in 2011 for work completed nearly a decade earlier.
"I was employed by FIFA as a special advisor to President Sepp Blatter, working on various matters related to football, such as the international football calendar. It was a full-time job," Platini said.
"Like I explained to the Swiss authorities, I received only part of the agreed salary between 1998 to 2002.
"This occurred because, at the time, FIFA informed me that they would not be able to pay me the total agreed amount. Of course all the moneys received at the time were declared to the pertinent authorities."Announcing the life ban on 72-year-old Warner, who previously led CONCACAF, the confederation of North and Central America and the Caribbean, a FIFA ethics committee statement said: "He was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments."
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.
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.
He 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. 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.
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."