Transparency is more than just a word to serve as a public relations figleaf. FIFA has not yet taken that on board whatever helpful jolts Transparency International may have given president Sepp Blatter and Co in recent months in the reluctant shuffle towards reform.
The need for a word to be converted into action was underlined by the Ethics Committee’s decision to summon a further 10 officials from a variety of Caribbean federations over events at Mohamed Bin Hammam’s infamous presidential campaign visit to Port of Spain on May 10 and 11.
Jack Warner’s distribution of the famous brown envelopes stuffed with $40,000 in cash on behalf of Bin Hammam ended up with both of them banished from football. Bin Hammam was banned for life – a sentence he is appealing in the Court of Arbitration for Sport – while Warner took himself out of the firing line.
Bin Hammam accused the Ethics Committee of being a ‘kangaroo court’ but at least the issues were clear, however the process was dressed up. The Qatari has demanded that the evidence against him be published; he has yet to respond to a request that he make public the invoices and signed receipts for the ‘travel expenses’ paid out in Port of Spain.
The importance of that paperwork has become ever more obvious from the Ethics action against the Caribbean collective.
In the last six weeks Colin Klass and Horace Burrell – a candidate to succeed Warner as Caribbean Football Union president – were suspended for 26 months and six months respectively; three more officials and two CFU administrators were banned for between one and 18 months; and the Ethics Committee handed out reprimands to three more officials, warned five and dropped cases against two who resigned. Two other men had their cases postponed or left open.
No details were published about the circumstances of their declared guilt.
Now a further 10 are being rounded up. They include Patrick John (a former prime minister of Dominica), Oliver Camps (general secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago federation) and Lionel Haven (formerly general secretary of the Bahamas federation).
Bahamas was the the origin of the original whistleblowing which alerted CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer and then FIFA to events in Trinidad.
Camps, a long-term Warner ally, is already up to his ears in trouble over the financial chaos within the T&T federation which has been exposed in the High Court by the 2006 World Cup players who are still chasing their long-withheld bonuses.
Others summoned are Raymond Guishard and Damien Hughes (Anguilla),
Everton Gonsalves and Derrick Gordon (Antigua and Barbuda), Philippe White (Dominica) as well as Vincent Cassell and Tandica Hughes (Montserrat).
Now, it may be that details about the first wave of hearings had been withheld so as not to prejudice the second wave. But Blatter was challenged over the circumstances of the first wave at his post-exco press conference last week and ducked the issue. If prejudice had been the problem it would have been simple to say so.
But the lack of clarification means that all of those accused – whatever their denials or excuses – will be considered to have either: 1, considered taking the money; or 2, taken the money and later given it all back; or 3, taken the money, kept some and given some back; or 4, taken the money and kept all of it . . . unproven, since it was cash, after all.
In many cases men who, ultimately, did the right thing – whether under pressure or out of good conscience – will be tarred with the same damning, generalising brush.
Whatever they may – or may not – have done, that is not fair play.
By Keir Radnedge