Chuck Blazer’s whistleblowing has irked the CFU
In all of the talk of FIFA “reform” and “breakaways”, let us not lose sight of CONCACAF as one of the most dysfunctional regional associations.
After all, this “crisis” was precipitated by Chuck Blazer’s whistleblowing of $40,000 bribes being paid out in a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) arranged by Jack Warner in lieu of votes for Mohammed Bin Hammam, the challenger to Sepp Blatter. Bin Hammam who was also present in that meeting has now been suspended.
So is Warner and his post as CONCACAF president was taken over by Lisle Austin in a provisional role till FIFA conducts a full scale inquiry into the bribery allegations. Warner in full revenge mode then warned of a “tsunami” of secrets that would damage the world body. It also did little to stop him from sending off a letter to the CFU urging its representatives to vote for Blatter thereby making a mockery of his suspension. His action was brought to the notice of Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s general secretary by Blazer resurrecting his whisteblowing role.
Austin’s first move was to go after Blazer now determined to complete the expose on the Warner’s suspension by hiring a law firm to compile a dossier. With CONCACAF’s business as usual threatened the acting president “sacked” Blazer. A symbolic gesture because Blazer is CONCACAF’s general secretary and his removal has to be approved by the executive members. A subsequent statement affirmed Blazer’s continuation as secretary general. It also stated that Mr Austin had been advised he had “no the authority to take such action.”
These marginalizing attempts reveal schisms in the CONCACAF which largely divides over the sporting interests of the region. The smaller Caribbean nations banding together as the CFU to offset the dominance of the USA on the pitch and through figures like Warner wield a disproportionate amount of influence in the world of football. In the World Cup bidding process, the USA twisted and turned on each word Warner had to say abandoning one bid for the other with even Barack Obama turning to him for guidance.
Warner who always uses occasions like the World Cup to remind of his powers then went on a globe trotting spree sampling each bid and putting out conflicting statements. In another pointed reminder of his king making role, Mohammed Bin Hammam turned to the Trinidadian to siphon CFU’s votes for for his electoral prospects in a closed door meeting. It was the soft underbelly in the CONCACAF region being targeted for corruption. Warner plays a clever game knowing his toast is buttered by his international status while remaining marginally responsive to the region. The CFU does his bidding.
With Blazer threatening to free more genies in the bottle; Austin, a Barbadian and a Warner acolyte took on a personal tone. He accused Blazer of “grossly insulting and defaming” Caribbean associations by stating “that each member association was under investigation for bribery”. Any breach would weaken the CFU and consequently their hold on political power.
Blatter has reiterated that the “FIFA family can take care of matters” but CONCACAF increasingly looks like a dysfunctional family whose dinner reunions are going to be spoiled by the revelations of a disgruntled relative and the expected foodfight to follow.