Jack Warner says he is 'innocent' amid FIFA federal corruption charges
Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner has said he is "innocent of any charges" after Swiss authorities arrested FIFA officials in relation to federal corruption charges.
Seven officials including FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb from the Cayman Islands were arrested by Swiss authorities on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice which has indicted 18 people alleging bribery totalling more than $150 million.
Later on Wednesday, the Swiss attorney general also opened criminal proceedings over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and seized documents and electronic data from FIFA's headquarters and will question 10 current FIFA executive committee members who voted on that tournament.
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The twin proceedings have cast FIFA into a state of crisis ahead of Friday's presidential election but the world governing body has said the vote, where incumbent Sepp Blatter is facing Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, will go ahead, as will the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively.
Warner left FIFA in 2011 after being suspended by the Ethics Committee following a corruption scandal.
The Trinidadian said in a statement to Press Association Sport: "I have been afforded no due process and I have not even been questioned in this matter. I reiterate that I am innocent of any charges. I have walked away from the politics of world football to immerse myself in the improvement of lives in this country where I shall, God willing, die.
"The actions of FIFA no longer concern me. I cannot help but note, however, that these cross-border coordinated actions come at a time when FIFA is assembled for elections to select a president who is universally disliked by the international community.
"At times such as this it is my experience that the large world powers typically take actions to affect world football. World football is an enormous international business.
"That is no longer my concern. My sole focus at this stage of my life is on the people of Trinidad and Tobago."
Jim Boyce, Britain's outgoing FIFA vice president, added: "This is another sad day for FIFA. I hope the investigations that FIFA have themselves initiated will lead to those individuals - if found guilty of dishonesty and corruption -- dealt with in the strongest possible manner by the law authorities."
Four men have already pleaded guilty in the U.S. football corruption investigation involving bribes totaling more than $100 million.
Chuck Blazer, for nearly two decades the most senior American official at FIFA, was among those whose guilty pleas were unsealed Wednesday by U.S. authorities.
Blazer had pocketed millions of dollars in marketing commissions and avoided paying taxes. He has been a cooperating witness for the FBI since leaving soccer in 2013 and has forfeited almost $2 million.
U.S. officials say guilty pleas were also given by Daryan Warner and Daryll Warner, sons of former senior FIFA official Warner; and Jose Hawilla, an executive of the Brazil-based sports marketing firm Traffic Sports.
U.S. officials say Hawilla has agreed to forfeit over $151 million.
They face maximum jail terms of incarceration of 20 years for "the RICO conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice charges."