PORT OF SPAIN: Jack Warner, disgraced former FIFA vice-president, believes Mohamed Bin Hammam had a “great chance” of beating long-serving Sepp Blatter in the FIFA presidential race in 2011 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Warner, who walked away from football after being charged over bribery allegations, said he felt vindicated personally by FIFA’s decision to close, finally, its investigation into controversial events in Port of Spain in May last year.

Michael J Garcia, FIFA’s ethics investigator, has formally closed the case against Bin Hammam after failing to uncover new evidence about the election campaign conference organised by the Caribbean Football Union and which saw delegates being offered expenses contained $40,000 in cash for expenses.

Warner said he always knew that neither he nor Bin Hamman had committed any offence. Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA but had that overturned in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Warner, now Minister of National Security in Trinidad and Tobago, said: “I must really extend sincere congratulations to my former colleague in FIFA for taking the battle all the way to CAS.

“This happened at a time when he was challenging for the presidency of FIFA. It is unfortunate that these allegations derailed Bin Hammam’s chances which I thought were very good. Bin Hammam had a great chance of being the new FIFA president.”

Warner was quoted by the Trinidad Guardian as adding:  “Because of the false allegations, my family and I were the subjects of much harassment and persecution, which unfortunately continue to this day. I sincerely hope that with this announcement, we will finally have some much-deserved relief.”

The 63-year-old Qatari remains suspended provisionally from football over financial mismanagement allegations. He has until mid-January to answer charges laid by Garcia.

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