CONCACAF decide against selecting new president

MIAMI, (Reuters) – CONCACAF, the crisis-hit governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, whose acting president Alfredo Hawit was arrested last week, have decided not to appoint a new interim leader.

Hawit was arrested in Zurich on Thursday and was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on corruption charges as part of their investigation into world governing body FIFA.

The Honduran had taken over the helm of CONCACAF following the May arrest of previous president Jeffrey Webb, also on corruption charges, in Zurich before a FIFA meeting. Webb has pleaded guilty to the charges after being extradited to the United States.

Cayman Islander Webb himself had come to power after the downfall of long-term CONCACAF president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago who has also been indicted and faces extradition to the United States, which he is fighting.

Miami-based CONCACAF announced on Monday that they would not select another interim president and would instead leave their executive committee (Exco) to run their affairs until a congress in Mexico City on May 12.

Alfredo Hawit
Alfredo Hawit

“The CONCACAF Exco concluded that, in light of current events, it is critical that the Confederation’s next President be determined by a public election and the scrutiny that comes with it,” read the statement. The organisation said their elected leaders would “serve in an advisory capacity” to CONCACAF’s acting general secretary, Ted Howard, and director-level staff.

“It is critical for the Confederation’s future that the next President be elected by the full Congress, rather than statutorily appointed,” Jamaican EXCO member Horace Burrell said in the statement.

“Under this leadership structure, CONCACAF can ensure there is sufficient time to publicly vet candidates while the Confederation focuses on continued implementation of strong reforms,” he added. Burrell was banned for three months by FIFA from taking part in any football-related activities for violations of FIFA’s Ethics code at a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union in 2011.

That meeting formed part of the ‘cash for votes’ scandal surrounding Qatari Mohammed Bin Hammam’s bid to be FIFA president. Burrell has denied any wrongdoing.

The United States is a member of CONCACAF and it was a longtime American soccer official, Chuck Blazer, who became an important cooperating witness after secretly pleading guilty in 2013 to criminal charges.

Blazer was once CONCACAF general secretary and a former FIFA executive committee member.

Officials from CONCACAF member countries Guatemala, Panama and Honduras were part of the latest Department of Justice indictments announced last Thursday.

Twenty seven soccer officials are under indictment in the United States over allegations they ran bribery schemes totaling as much as $200 million in the sale of television and marketing rights for soccer tournaments and matches.

In addition, 12 people and two sports marketing companies have been convicted in the investigation by U.S. prosecutors.

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