KEIR RADNEDGE in Budapest: Jeffrey Webb stepped up as new president of CONCACAF promising a new era focused far more on football and far less on political games and financial concerns.
Webb, president of the Cayman Islands FA for almost 20 years, knows he faces a major task refashioning the wretched image of the Central and North American Confederation after the crisis-wracked chaos of last summer.
Those were the stormy months when former president Jack Warner quit football rather than answer bribery allegations and two dozen delegates from Caribbean federations received a variety of sanctions arising from Mohamed Bin Hammam’s doomed FIFA presidential ambitions.
Warner has hardly disappeared from view: he is currently Acting Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and mystery continues to surround the ins and outs from bank accounts associated with CONCACAF and the subsidiary Caribbean Football Union.
Antigua’s Gordon Derrick had been voted in at the start of the week as CFU president (in succession to Warner) while CONCACAF Congress here saw Webb elected unopposed as only the organisation’s fourth leader in its 51 years.
Webb, in an impressive and impassioned address, told delegates: “We are at a crossroads. We are a family and like any family we have our issues but, also like any family, we can find a way through.
“We must move the clouds and let the sunshine in. It’s a new day for CONCACAF, a new chapter. Let us embrace this chapter. Our past will not define us; we will define our future. We must decide our destiny.
“There are 40 countries and 540m people who rely on you and me . . . We have a responsibility to make sure the past will never be repeated.
“In our work in the last two months there has not been one discussion about the game. But that’s what we’re about: football. Instead we talked about lawyers, accountants, compensation, assets that we were not sure of.
“How did we get here? How did I allow us to get here? How did you allow us to get here? How do we pick up the pieces, dust ourselves off and decide this is not going to define us?
“I wish the story was better but it is not. We don’t have a development department, we don’t have a technical director. So what has our focus been? Politics. Economics. Now let’s focus on our core responsibility which is football.
“We must reform our confederation. The reforms we have started in the CFU we must bring into CONCACAF. FIFA is well on the way. Now we must begin.”
Webb’s coronation was witnessed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, secretary-general Jerome Valcke, UEFA president Michel Platini and various other senior figures within the FIFA family.
To underline the new drive within CONCACAF and set down an ambitious unifying marker for the future, Webb told them: “We must say to Michel Platini and to UEFA that CONCACAF will win the World Cup; we must say to president Blatter and the FIFA executive committee that the 2016 World Cup belongs to CONCACAF.”
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