- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2011

GENEVA (AP) - Jack Warner quit as a FIFA vice president Monday, and soccer’s governing body dropped a bribery investigation of him.

Warner and Asian soccer chief Mohamed bin Hammam were suspended by FIFA last month after they were accused of offering $40,000 cash payments to Caribbean voters during bin Hammam’s presidential campaign to unseat Sepp Blatter.

Warner spent 28 years on FIFA’s executive committee but stepped down days after some of his Caribbean Football Union followers were interviewed by former FBI agents enlisted by FIFA to investigate.

FIFA said it accepted his resignation and “regrets the turn of events” that led to the decision.

“Mr. Warner is leaving FIFA by his own volition after nearly 30 years of service,” the ruling body said in a statement. “As a consequence of Mr. Warner’s self-determined resignation, all ethics committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained.”

Warner also quit as head of the soccer group representing the Caribbean and the regional body in which the United States competes.

Warner’s decision to leave could help preserve his political career in his native Trinidad and Tobago, where he is a government minister. Police on the Caribbean island had said they would ask FIFA for any evidence of wrongdoing.

Warner and Bin Hammam were accused of allegedly arranging the payments in a Port of Spain hotel during the Qatari official’s campaign visit May 10.

Warner had “chosen to focus on his important work on behalf of the people and government of Trinidad and Tobago as a cabinet minister and as the chairman of the United National Congress, the major party in his country’s coalition government,” the statement said.

Warner joined FIFA’s inner circle in 1983 and seven years later was elected president of the confederation which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. The 68-year-old official was given another four-year term unopposed at the CONCACAF congress May 3 in Miami.

Bin Hammam did not attend in Miami, contending he had visa problems to enter the U.S. even though he holds a diplomatic passport.

Caribbean members of CONCACAF were then summoned to a two-day conference in Trinidad to meet Blatter’s election rival.

However, delegates from the Bahamas turned whistle-blower and alerted Warner’s longtime CONCACAF No. 2 Chuck Blazer of the U.S., who commissioned a file of evidence to present to FIFA.

The dossier included statements from soccer federation officials from Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands who also declined the payments. Puerto Rico and Surinam later agreed to return their $40,000 payments as pressure on witnesses intensified. Other CFU members insisted no FIFA corruption rules were broken in Trinidad.

Warner had been a longtime ally of Sepp Blatter, who was re-elected as FIFA president when bin Hammam dropped out of the election.

Bin Hammam withdrew hours before the ethics panel met and provisionally suspended him three days before the election. The Asian Football Confederation president is now set to face a full ethics inquiry, expected next month, without his fellow confederation boss.

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