MIAMI: The football body most severely compromised by United States crimnal investigators is to try, yet again, to bring in governance reforms.
CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, is responding to the FIFA corruption scandal which has seen its former president held in Switzerland pending a US extradition application.
The executive committee, now led by Alfredo Hawitt after the sacking of Cayman Islands banker Jeffrey Webb, has approved a ‘reform framework’ aimed at improving governance, transparency, increased public disclosure and anti-corruption controls.
The reform proposals include term limits on CONCACAF presidents and executive committee members, independent members of the executive committee and publication of salaries and expenses of top officials.
A statement said: “These reforms are intended to apply best practices for sound corporate governance to CONCACAF’s business operations. In implementing the Reform Framework, the Confederation will demonstrate to its fans, sponsors, member associations and other stakeholders that Concacaf is resilient and devoted to managing, developing, and promoting the game with accountability and transparency.”
CONCACAF has been implicated in the so-0called FIFAgate scandal with not only Webb but another presidents in Trinidadian Jack Warner both indicted by American prosecutors.
Guilty pleas to various bribery and financial offences from former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer in 2013 and his subsequent co-operation with the authorities prompted the lead to CONCACAF.
Former CONCACAF members Eduardo Li and Julio Rocha, along with Nicaraguan FIFA development officer Julio Rocha, are also among those to have been indicted.
General secretary Enrique Sanz is also suspended from all football-related duties by FIFA and CONCACAF after being linked to arranging bribes for Webb from Traffic Sports, the rights-holding agency where he used to work.
“From a crisis standpoint, this is a pretty big crisis,” said CONCACAF legal adviser Sam Gandhi.
In an interview with Associated Press he said: “We have to solve our own problems and we need to show we are a leader.”
“The whole world has acknowledged that independent board members are important to avoid conflicts of interest,” Gandhi said.
CONCACAF also wants to run background checks on potential commercial partners, hire a compliance officer and run a whistleblower hotline.
The plans were published one day before the Gold Cup national team tournament kicks off in the United States. The ongoing scandal placed question marks against the South American Football Confederation’s ability to pay prize money at its recently concluded Copa America tournament, but Gandhi, a partner at law firm Sidley Austin, which has been engaged by CONCACAF during its reform process, said the confederation will be able to meet its commitments.
“We are going to be able to put on a great event and going to be able to pay prize money,” Gandhi said. “We have had no restrictions on our operations.”
The reform plan must be approved at a congress of the full 41-nation Concacaf membership, likely within a year. “We and, more importantly, the ExCo realise we need to do the right thing to right the ship otherwise there will not be a confederation,” Gandhi added.
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