AMMAN: FIFA presidency candidate Prince Ali of Jordan has attacked the world federation’s contentious decision to block $20m in funding to the Americas’ confederations CONMEBOL and CONCACAF writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The South American as well as the central/north American bodies are in the grip of organisational crises over the fall-out from the FIFAGate corruption scandal which has seen senior directors indicted by the United States judicial authorities.
However the cash bar decision by the audit committee, headed by Swiss businesman Domenico Scala, has prompted anger because of its delicate timing just over three weeks before the election of a new FIFA president.
Sources close to several of the five candidates have suggested that such a decision would have been more appropriately timed once the new leader had taken office in only a matter of weeks.
Prince Ali, who denied Blatter a first-round knockout in last year’s election, has been the only one to formally raise his critical head above the diplomatic parapet.
He said: “I have read reports that a FIFA spokesperson has announced that funding to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL has been suspended with immediate effect.
“Who is the spokesman; which FIFA committee does he represent; who decided that 45 member associations should suffer collective punishment as a result of individuals’ bad actions; who decided to hold these votes to ransom less than three weeks before the election and who exactly will decide when the funding will be reinstated?”
FIFA’s media department declined to comment beyond reissuing Monday’s statement that “in light of current proceedings involving individuals related to CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, FIFA has put contributions toward these two Confederations on hold until further notice.
“We are currently assessing further steps to be taken to increase the level of assurance which may again enable FIFA to release such funds in the future.”
CONCACAF has seen its last three presidents indicted by the Department of Justice with Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner, Cayman Islander Jeffrey Webb and Honduran Alfred Hawit all facing charges.
CONMEBOL has had former president Nicolas Leoz and their most recent leader Jan Angel Napout, both of Paraguay, indicted along with several other leading officials.
Paraguayan federationc president Alejandro Dominguez was last week elected as the new CONMEBOL leader. Last December, predecessor Juan Angel Napout was one of 16 people charged in connection with multimillion-dollar bribery schemes for marketing and broadcasting rights of tournaments and matches.
The last three presidents are now under arrest in connection with the scandal, with Paraguay’s Napout joining former presidents Nicolas Leoz, also of Paraguay, and Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay.
In all, the DoJ’s probe has led to charges against 39 people for crimes including racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. Most of them are officials or sports marketing executives from the two confederations.
In December, CONCACAF opted not to appoint an interim president, with its three previous leaders also indicted in the FIFA bribery case. Interim president Alfredo Hawit was among the latest raft of charges from the DoJ. Previous presidents Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago were charged in a first indictment published in May.
CONCACAF has insisted it has “fulfilled all of FIFA’s requests for documents and information regarding the new administrative, compliance, and procurement processes that have been implemented at the confederation to ensure the issue is resolved in a timely manner.”
In a letter to members on January 5, CONCACAF warned member FAs said it had not received $10m in FIFA funds and was trying to reorganise its finances.
After Webb and other officials were arrested in May, CONCACAF was unable to access $9m in a Cayman Islands bank account for several months and struggled to find a new bank.
The crisis has led to the body stopping annual stipends to its 41 member nations and cancelling all of its committee meetings until further notice.
CONCACAF expected to have operating reserves of $28m for the year ended December 31, 2015. It added: “The confederation was operating with approximately $2m in available cash – an extremely precarious situation. While our internal investigation is ongoing much of the financial situation was the result of poor budgeting and excessive spending by the prior administration.”
A criminal trial in the Cayman Islands of Canover Watson, a former member of FIFA’s audit committee, has heard evidence that Webb siphoned off FIFA development funds to help fund the purchase of a home in Georgia.
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