The extraordinary allegations will throw the presidential race into chaos just a week before the presidential vote in Zurich and threaten a schism in the governing body.
Fifa has acted after receiving a report from Fifa executive committee member Chuck Blazer regarding Bin Hammam and Warner’s conduct at the CFU meeting on May 10-11.
Blazer’s allegations are understood to be supported by affidavits from the witnesses prepared by lawyers.
In a statement Fifa said: On 24 May 2011, Fifa Executive Committee member and Concacaf General Secretary Chuck Blazer reported to Fifa Secretary General Jérôme Valcke possible violations of the Fifa Code of Ethics allegedly committed by officials.
In particular, the report referred to a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), apparently organised jointly by Fifa Vice-President Jack A. Warner and Fifa Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hammam, which took place on 10 and 11 May 2011. This meeting was linked to the forthcoming Fifa presidential election.
In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, Fifa Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, in compliance with art. 16 of the Fifa Code of Ethics, yesterday requested the Fifa Ethics Committee to open ethics proceedings.
Subsequently, the Fifa Ethics Committee today, 25 May 2011, opened a procedure against the following officials:
– Fifa Vice-President Jack A. Warner
– Fifa Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hammam
– CFU official Debbie Minguell
– CFU official Jason Sylvester
The aforementioned officials have been invited to take position by 27 May 2011 and to attend a hearing by the Fifa Ethics Committee at the Home of Fifa (Zurich) on 29 May 2011.
Based on art. 87.1 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code and art. 17.2 of the Fifa Code of Ethics, the chairman of the Fifa Ethics Committee, Claudio Sulser, has declined to participate in this Fifa Ethics Committee meeting due to the Swiss nationality he shares with Joseph S. Blatter, a candidate for the forthcoming Fifa presidency.
The meeting will therefore be chaired by the deputy chairman of the Fifa Ethics Committee, Petrus Damaseb (Namibia). No additional comments will be made by Fifa until further notice.
The decision to suspend Bin Hammam throws his candidacy in to doubt, but will also lead to questions of Fifa’s motives in acting now.
There are also likely to be implications for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, which is already the subject of allegations of corruption published in the British Parliament.
The charges against Warner, a staunch Blatter ally for more than a decade, seem to signal the end of his hugely controversial tenure as Fifa’s most influential power-broker.
Bin Hammam attended the CFU meeting after visa problems meant he was unable to attend the annual congress of the Concacaf confederation, of which Warner is president, in Miami, earlier in the month.
Each of Fifa’s 208 member associations has a vote in the presidential election, investing huge influence in larger confederations such as Concacaf, and making individual lobbying crucial.
Following the Concacaf meeting, attended by Blatter, Warner appeared to offer his backing for the president, advising him to spend his time lobbying where it might be more “useful”.
The Blatter camp remained anxious about Warner’s influence and support however, and Bin Hammam’s visit was an opportunity for the challenger to make his case directly to 30 voting members, 15 per cent of the electorate.
Warner has long been considered the kingmaker in the presidential election with his control of the 40 Concacaf votes the key to either candidate’s success.
His support has been crucial to Blatter’s two previous contested elections, in 1998 and 2002, and he helped ensure that there was no challenger in 2007.
In return Blatter has helped ensure that repeated scandals, most notably his sale of 2006 World Cup tickets intended for Trinidad fans through a family travel firm, have not cost him his post on Fifa’s executive committee.
After the CFU meeting Warner warned delegates that they might face allegations of wrongdoing, but to ignore them.
“You will hear the president of Asia came here for your vote and he gave you, a Benz for you, a Benz for you and a Benz for you,” said Warner.
“You will hear of course that he came from Asia and gave you a barrel of oil. You will hear those things.
“You will hear he gave you a ship and I am asking you, when you go back home, because [in] the media, everybody believes the worst thing possible.
“When you go back home, you hold your head high and you will tell your members that you were not part of this international nonsense.”
The charges Warner and Bin Hammam face mean such allegations can no longer be airily dismissed, and the future of Fifa will be shaped by the outcome of the legal and political battle about to be waged.