Jun 4, 2015 1:00 AM

The Latest: Warner makes televised address in Trinidad

The Associated Press

0040 GMT (8:40 p.m. EDT)

Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner made a televised address in Trinidad on Wednesday night, saying he will prove a link between soccer's governing body and his nation's elections in 2010.

"I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country," Warner said.

Warner also said in the address, which was a paid political advertisement, that "I reasonably actually fear for my life."

Still, a half-hour after the speech aired, Warner appeared at his Independent Liberal Party's rally held under a canopy on a residential street. At least a couple hundred people were present when Warner spoke, many of them having not seen the televised remarks.

Warner said he has documents and checks that link FIFA officials, including embattled President Sepp Blatter, to the 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago.

"I apologize for not disclosing my knowledge of these events before," Warner said.


2340 GMT (7:40 p.m. EDT)

U.S. women's coach Jill Ellis addressed the FIFA corruption scandal before the team held its first practice in Canada in advance of the Women's World Cup.

"As succinctly as I can put it, I see FIFA right now as the stadium that houses our game. It's an organization; they organize it, they put it together. But in terms of what happens inside, with the teams, the players, the passion, that should be the focal point. I just see FIFA as the stadium where we play," she said.

"They're the big house, but what these players do, what the teams do, what the coaches do, all those things, that's the focal point," she said.

U.S. midfielder Heather O'Reilly said the controversy going down half a world away has little bearing on the players at this point.

"I don't think it directly impacts what we're doing for the next month ahead of us," she said. "You know, there's a lot of talk about soccer right now. Perhaps, maybe, that will get people to watch this amazing tournament."


2000 GMT (4 p.m. EDT)

Former FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer told a U.S. federal judge that he and others on the governing body's ruling panel agreed to receive bribes to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

Prosecutors unsealed a 40-page transcript Wednesday of the November 2013 hearing in U.S. District Court during which Blazer pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges.

"Beginning in or around 2004 and continuing through 2011, I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup," Blazer told U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie.

Blazer was the No. 2 official of soccer's North and Central American and Caribbean region from 1990-2011 and served on FIFA's executive committee from 1997-2013.


1925 GMT (3:25 p.m. EDT)

David Beckham says he has found it infuriating watching the FIFA scandal escalate over the last week and that it is time for soccer's governing body to change.

The former England captain said: "Some of the things that we now know happened were despicable, unacceptable and awful for the game we love so much."

Beckham helped lobby for votes for England in 2010 ahead of the vote on the 2018 World Cup, which was awarded to Russia. At the time, Beckham said he was left with a "sick feeling" after being misled by executive committee members who pledged their support.

Now Beckham hopes FIFA is cleaning up its act.

"Whilst it has not been good to read some of the headlines surrounding our sport recently, I hope at last we are now moving in the right direction," Beckham said in a statement.

"Football is not owned by a few individuals at the top, it belongs to the millions of people around the world who love this sport. It is time for FIFA to change and we should all welcome it."


1840 GMT (2:40 p.m. EDT)

Swiss lawmakers have voted to weaken a bill meant to increase scrutiny of sports bodies such as FIFA.

The proposed law, known as 'Lex FIFA' but in the works long before soccer's governing body was hit by twin graft probes last week, is meant to make it easier for prosecutors to investigate corruption allegations at private organizations.

But Switzerland's upper house narrowly voted Wednesday to approve an amendment requiring the organization itself to ask for the probe, except in cases where the public interest is at stake.

Critics say this amendment is a hurdle for prosecutors seeking to bring a case, and hope it will be overturned by the lower chamber this fall.


1810 GMT (2:10 p.m. EDT)

Former Brazilian star player Ronaldo is calling for Marco Polo Del Nero, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, to step down.

Former CBF president Jose Maria Marin, who was replaced in April by Del Nero, is being held in a Swiss prison awaiting extradition to the United States on charges stemming for the FIFA corruption scandal.

"It's evident the kind of relationship he (Del Nero) had with Marin," Ronaldo said Wednesday in Sao Paulo. "Therefore, it would be a good moment for him to resign."

Ronaldo was named FIFA's best player three times and served as a so-called ambassador for FIFA's 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Romario, another former Brazilian star and now a federal senator, has also called for Del Nero to resign.


1755 GMT (1:55 p.m. EDT)

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke says he sees "no reason" why he should resign amid claims he helped authorize $10 million in bribes for World Cup bidding votes.

The ongoing crisis has shaken football's governing body to its core and already led to president Sepp Blatter's resignation.

FIFA defended its second-in command Valcke on Tuesday, following a New York Times report that American law enforcement officials believe he transferred the money in 2008 to accounts controlled by Jack Warner, the former CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president who faces corruption charges in the U.S.

Speaking on France Info radio station on Wednesday, Valcke said "I'm beyond reproach and I don't feel guilty" adding that "I don't have the power to authorize a payment, especially a payment of 10 million dollars."


1735 GMT (1:35 p.m. EDT)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Blatter stepping down, saying it was "now more possible that FIFA's work could be conducted on a more transparent basis."

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin on Wednesday, Merkel told reporters that as a football fan herself, "this is an important message."


1715 GMT (1:15 p.m. EDT)

The White House says recent revelations have made it clear that FIFA could benefit from new leadership.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says FIFA president Sepp Blatter's resignation is an opportunity for soccer's governing body to improve its public image and ensure its actions are consistent with its mission. He says decisions about how to do that must be left up to members of FIFA.

The White House has carefully avoided weighing in on the ongoing FIFA scandal amid the ongoing U.S. federal investigation into soccer corruption. Earnest said he had no special knowledge about the investigation and that prosecutors are operating independently.

Blatter announced his decision to resign on Tuesday as the worst corruption crisis in FIFA's 111-year history continued to unfold.


1700 GMT (1:00 p.m. EDT)

Paraguay's president is calling on Congress to overturn a law that gives immunity to the headquarters of the South American Football Federation.

A Wednesday statement from the foreign ministry said that President Horacio Cartes wants the law overturned because the federation, known as CONMEBOL, should not be afforded the same rights as an embassy.

The move comes after two former federation presidents, Nicolas Leoz and Eugenio Figueredo, were indicted in a bribery and money-laundering scheme in the FIFA investigation. Figueredo was arrested in Switzerland and Leoz is in Paraguay, where he has said he'll fight a U.S. extradition order.

The headquarters was given the immunity in 1997, and prohibits authorities from seizing documents or freezing assets.


1630 GMT (12:30 p.m. EDT)

World players' union FIFPro wants FIFA to publish all documents linked to Sepp Blatter's decision to resign.

The union says there should be "full accountability to the players and all other stakeholders, including the fans, who have been made to suffer by the crisis of confidence enveloping FIFA as football's

global governing body."

FIFPro said it hoped that a reform of soccer's governing body would also see an end to rules that limit players' employment rights, a longstanding demand of the union.


1540 GMT (11:40 a.m. EDT)

German football federation president Wolfgang Niersbach wants a successor to outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter to be named much sooner than currently planned.

Niersbach said Wednesday in Berlin, "When I hear that a special FIFA congress won't take place until spring next year, then my initial reaction is to say, that's extremely problematic. I would clearly recommended speeding up the process."

He said Michael van Praag of the Netherlands was an ideal candidate to replace Blatter.

Niersbach ruled himself out running for the position: "My priority is quite clear, German football. I don't need to change the position."

Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called for structural reforms to be made to FIFA in the wake of Blatter's announced resignation as president of world soccer's governing body.


1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT)

Venezuela's president has a few suggestions for soccer officials climbing out of the spiraling FIFA scandal.

President Nicolas Maduro thinks retired soccer star Diego Maradona should become the next FIFA president.

His comments late Tuesday came hours after FIFA's top official, Sepp Blatter, stepped down amid a U.S. probe into $150 million in bribes allegedly paid to top soccer officials.

Speaking on his national television program, Maduro said Argentine soccer legend Maradona had been calling out FIFA for decades, only to be laughed at. Maradona has been a high-profile supporter of the 16-year-old socialist revolution launched in Venezuela by late President Hugo Chavez.


1320 GMT (9:20 a.m. EDT)

The Jordanian Football Association says it is studying FIFA rules to see whether they allow for the possibility of Prince Ali bin al-Hussein succeeding President Sepp Blatter without going to an election first.

Jordanian FA deputy chief Salah Sabra told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the organization's legal department is looking into the matter.

Sabra says there is no FIFA statute prescribing a new election in the event of the resignation of the president.

When asked about the possibility of Prince Ali serving as interim president, Sabra noted Wednesday that Blatter is remaining in office until a new election, which is expected between December and March.

Sabra says Blatter "has resigned and not resigned. It seems he is giving himself another year (in office). He might change his mind."

Prince Ali, who is the president of the Jordanian FA, lost to Blatter in the FIFA presidential election on Friday.


1225 GMT (8:25 a.m. EDT)

Hordes of journalists outside FIFA headquarters are sunbathing or taking shade from the baking sun in Zurich, waiting for more news a day after FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced he will resign.

About 100 journalists, including TV crews, have set up camp outside the complex on a tree-lined avenue. One group even had a pizza delivered to them.

Reporters were restricted to asking a group of schoolchildren who had been training inside on Wednesday whether they had seen Blatter, who will remain as president until a new election is held. The children just giggled.


1140 GMT (7:40 a.m. EDT)

Russia says the resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter hasn't affected the country's plans to host the 2018 World Cup.

Russia, which has been a staunch supporter of Blatter, says it will continue to work with him until he steps down and a new election for FIFA president is held.

Switzerland has launched an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, says "we are assuming that Mr. Blatter will fulfil his obligations until the next congress is held, so the work is continuing and our cooperation with FIFA is continuing," in comments reported by Russia's Tass agency on Wednesday.

Peskov added that "the main thing is that Russia is continuing its preparations for the 2018 World Cup. All the plans are being implemented and the work is being carried out."


1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT)

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has declined to comment on FIFA President Sepp Blatter's resignation or whether he is under investigation.

Lynch, who was in Latvia for a meeting with EU justice ministers, says "it's an open case and so we will now be speaking through the courts."

Lynch says the U.S. hopes that FIFA "will be able to move forward in a way that is supportive of its goals, which are the promotion and regulation of a truly wonderful sport."

Asked about allegations of suspicious payments related to the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar, she said Wednesday that matters related to those bids were part of the Swiss investigation.


1105 GMT (7:05 a.m. EDT)

South Africa's sports minister has denied that a $10 million payment was a bribe to secure the 2010 World Cup.

Fikile Mbalula says the government wants to "categorically deny" that South Africa paid any bribes to win the right to host the tournament.

Mbalula characterizes the $10 million as an "above-board payment" to help soccer development in the Caribbean region of former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner.

Mbalula also told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday that the South African government hasn't yet received details of the indictment from the U.S. Justice Department, which alleges the $10 million was used by South Africa to win favor from Warner and other FIFA voters to back South Africa's bid in 2004.


1045 GMT (6:45 a.m. EDT)

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Qatar Football Association president, says the nation welcomes the Swiss investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

He was responding to comments from English Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke, who suggested that Qatari football organizers wouldn't be sleeping very well following the announcement on Tuesday by FIFA President Sepp Blatter that he would be resigning.

Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, while Russia is due to host the 2018 tournament.

"Mr. Dyke's instinct to immediately focus on stripping Qatar of the World Cup speaks volumes on his views concerning what will be the first FIFA World Cup to take place in the Middle East," Sheikh Hamad said, adding that the legal process should be allowed to take its course.

The U.S. launched a federal investigation into corruption in world soccer last week, issuing indictments against 14 current or former soccer officials on May 27.


0955 GMT (5:55 a.m. EDT)

In Seoul, former FIFA Vice President Chung Mong-joon says he will think about whether to run for the FIFA presidency.

Chung says "many people" are asking him whether he will run for the post after Sepp Blatter announced he would be stepping down amid a corruption scandal surrounding soccer's world governing body.

Chung told a news conference on Wednesday: "I'll carefully think about it before making a decision on whether to participate in the FIFA presidency election."

Chung, who was a FIFA vice president for 17 years before losing his seat in 2011, says he'll try to meet many figures in the international soccer community and listen to their opinions.

A FIFA official said Tuesday that an election will likely take place between December and March.


0930 GMT (5:30 a.m. EDT)

UEFA has canceled a meeting in Berlin this weekend where member federations were to discuss ways of opposing a Sepp Blatter-led FIFA.

UEFA President Michel Platini says it is better to await developments after Blatter announced plans to resign.

Platini also noted the "unpredictable nature" of a U.S. federal investigation into corruption in world soccer.

He says "considering new information is revealed every day, I believe it is wiser to take time to assess the situation."

The 54 UEFA member federations were expected to meet on the sidelines of this weekend's Champions League final.

At least 10 UEFA members are thought to have voted for Blatter despite Platini urging the FIFA president to resign before the election last Friday.


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