June 1, 2015 / 1:13 PM / in 2 years

Blatter disgraced FIFA, says former VP Warner

Re-elected FIFA President Sepp Blatter gestures during news conference after an extraordinary Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, May 30, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - No one has brought more shame on FIFA than its president Sepp Blatter and he should step aside for a younger leader, the organization’s former vice president Jack Warner has said.

Warner, who has been accused of soliciting bribes as part of a U.S.-led corruption case against senior soccer officials, left jail in Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday after he was granted bail, according to local media.

“Why are there no investigations in Asia, or in Europe?” Warner told German magazine Stern in an interview released on Monday.

“Why are there no investigations into Sepp Blatter? No other person has brought so much shame and disgrace on FIFA.”

Warner is among nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with running a criminal enterprise that involved more than $150 million in bribes.

Asked by Stern if he thought 79-year-old Blatter was corrupt, Warner said: ”I only know this: he was elected FIFA boss five times in succession. Is he corrupt? I don’t know.

“If I were his age... I’d retire and pass the presidency of FIFA on to someone younger. But everyone has different ideas of what to do with their lives.”

Once one of the most powerful men in FIFA, Warner surrendered to authorities on Wednesday after U.S. officials sought his extradition. Prosecutors say Warner solicited bribes worth $10 million from the South African government for them to host the 2010 World Cup and diverted bribes for personal use.

Warner issued a statement protesting his innocence on Wednesday as FIFA reeled from police raids in Switzerland and

the U.S. and a second investigation opened by the Swiss authorities into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Warner, who faces 12 charges, including racketeering and bribery, said on Wednesday he was innocent and noted he had left soccer activities four years ago.

The 72-year-old resigned from FIFA after ethics investigations were begun into a meeting he held with former Asian Football Confederation chief Mohammed Bin Hammam where payments were made to Caribbean soccer officials ahead of the election for FIFA president in 2011.

Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Ken Ferris and Giles Elgood

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