Sepp Blatter: For the world - including CONCACAF


— FIFA will consider intervening in CONCACAF if the present political paralysis at the head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football cannot be resolved in any time soon.

That contentious prospect was held out by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, discussing the confusion within CONCACAF, after a two-day of the world federation’s executive committee in Tokyo.

One FIFA exco member, American Chuck Blazer, steps down as general secretary of CONCACAF in the coming week; the former president of CONCACAF, Jack Warner, quit both this role and as a FIFA vice-president last summer rather than face ethics panel allegations of bribery over Mohamed Bin Hamman’s infamous FIFA power bid.

Ted Howard, veteran deputy general secretary of CONCACAF, is both carrying out the functions of the role as well as leading the process to identify a successor to Blazer whose whistleblowing last spring prompted volcanic eruptions within both FIFA and CONCACAF.

However, as Blatter insinuated, it is difficult to see how any permanent, long-term appointment can be made when the command and control system of CONCACAF is compromised by a court case being brought by a claimant to be acting president.

After Warner’s exit, his ally Lisle Austin stepped up as acting president but was repudiated by the other committee members (for trying to close down the Miami and New York offices just before the Gold Cup) and is seeking his reinstatement via a civil court action in the Bahamas.

In the meantime Alfredo Hawit of Honduras has taken over the role of interim acting president. However, CONCACAF statutes rule that the appointment of the general secretary is in the power of the executive committee and while its presidency is in dispute it would be a brave man or woman who took up the role.

CONCACAF has made enormous strides over the past 20 years after being a minor political backwater in world football terms. However crucial decisions are pending. One concerns moving the headquarters from New York to Miami and another responding to the increasing influence being sought by Mexican television whose revenues are important for CONCACAF.

‘Difficult problems’

Blatter, asked about the fact that CONCACAF has not had a confirmed president in place for the past six months, said: “This is a situation which is not comfortable and not acceptable. But you have difficult problems besetting this confederation.

“CONCACAF has an acting president in Mr Hawit from Honduras who possibly could intervene to organise something and bring this confederation back to the international scene but this has not been done.

“The main reason is that there is a court case pending in the Bahamas and while this court has yet to take a decision on whether to qualify or disqualify the acting president the entire activity of the confederation is blocked.

“Over the next few months FIFA may have no other solution but to intervene as we would if a national association were not working in accord with FIFA statutes. But there is a legal aspect: a confederation is not directly a member of FIFA so we will have to wait.

“Football is still working throughout the confederation but the general secretary [Blazer] will leave CONCACAF in three days’ time and this means we will take a close look at what goes on in the confederation because this is certainly not good for the FIFA family.”

The mixed-up state of CONCACAF’s command is illustrated by the make-up of the executive committee. According to its website this comprises: vice-president Lisle Austin (Barbados), vice-president Alfredo Hawit (Honduras), and members Ariel Alvarado (Panama), Sunil Gulati (US) and Horace Burrell (Jamaica).

However . . . while Gulati, the US Soccer Federation president, has just been appointed to FIFA’s independent governance committee, Jamaica’s Burrell was suspended earlier this month by FIFA for infringing its code of ethics in the Bin Hammam scandal.