As honeymoons go, it didn’t last long. New CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb barely had the time to bask in the moment of his election before he was plunged into a fresh crisis over the misuse of funds by his predecessor, Jack Warner, and the confederation’s former general secretary, Chuck Blazer.
The list of financial mismanagement allegations against Warner and fellow CONCACAF representative, Blazer, was outlined to delegates just minutes after they elected Webb as their new president.
Warner has already gone, banished from football for life for his alleged misdemeanours, but Blazer remains in situ – for the time being at least.
Officials from the region turned on Blazer, and voted to seek his removal from FIFA’s executive committee after 16 years. An appeal to this effect will be made to the full FIFA Congress on Friday.
Bitterness and acrimony permeated the air in Budapest as delegates took it in turns to heap opprobrium on Blazer and Warner.
“There are robbers with guns and there are robbers with white collars — and I don’t want us to be represented by a thief with a white collar in FIFA,” Cuba football president Luis Hernandez said of the pair.
Perhaps sensing the prevailing mood, Blazer, citing illness, wisely did not attend the meeting.
Had he been present he would have told of a litany of accounting failures that came to light following a complete audit of CONCACAF’s finances. Among the unexplained items was a $22.5 million centre of excellence built by FIFA funds in Trinidad & Tobago, but now registered to companies owned by Warner’s family. Similarly Blazer’s 10 per cent commissions on television and sponsorship deals, paid to an offshore company called Sportvertising, helped push CONCACAF’s staff costs to $9 million from income of $38 million last year.
On hearing of the contents of the report, Webb spoke on behalf of the confederation.
“We feel let down, disappointed, dismayed,” Webb said, and added: “Too often, improper decisions were made by individuals with their own agenda.”
While Sepp Blatter assured FIFA delegates: “The credibility of CONCACAF is back,” the irony, is that many of those lining up to put the boot into Blazer and Warner, have themselves served suspension for various misdemeanours.