Saturday, June 11, 2011

Keeping On...

If the report that Colin Henry will be representing the CFU and eleven of its individual members, including Dominica, is correct, then Mr. Henry is going to be faced with some interesting challenges as to the various positions of his individual clients.

It was reported today that the president of the Dominica Football Association (and former Prime Minister), Patrick John, declared that his federation did not receive any payments or gifts at the May 10th CFU meeting in Trinidad. This announcement, however, does not situate the Dominica in the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" camp led by T&T/Jamaica/Barbados, as Mr. John has an interesting explanation for why it would not have been bribed: Dominica openly opposed Bin Hammam's candidacy and declared support for Monsieur Blatter. Mr. John's denial, in fact, reads like an indictment of his fellow associations:
“Dominica was never approached about the gift being given because Dominica opposed Bin Hammam’s candidacy at the meeting when he made his presentation,” [John] said.

“He was told that Dominica will not support him and will instead support Blatter. We were very tough on him. Other … members asked some soft questions about when they will or will not get the money, that is, the money for the Goal Project and an increase in the Financial Assistance Project and then the story broke out.”

Mr. John noted that he could not speak for other associations but that the DFA had no awareness as to whether bribes were offered or accepted at the meeting.

This is no bombshell revelation, nor should it be surprising to other CFU members as it is fully consistent with what Mr. John told Dominica News at the beginning of the month:
“The DFA was the only association to refuse Hammam’s proposals and the association has not received any such monies.”
Dominica's claim of exceptionalism has nevertheless led to the association being lumped in with others that have denied that gifts or bribes were given -- a position that seems even more untenable with each passing day -- perhaps, in part, because Mr. John appears to support the belief that Chuck Blazer has pursued claims against the CFU as part of a plot to install North Americans as the leadership of CONCACAF.

What does this mean? At base, I think that the DFA's position is a reflection of how weak the support is amongst the various CFU members for the official storyline peddled by its leaders. If the FIFA investigation has any teeth (and it may not) knives are going to start being placed into backs.

The acting president of the CFU, Jamaica's Captain Horace Burrell, now says that the Union will cooperate with FIFA's investigation following a change in venue to the Bahamas. But the CFU goes into those meetings with a problem that is escalating by the day.

First, the CFU web-site continues to post questionable missives that only seem to further undermine confidence in the organization. There is, for example, this piece originating from Barbados that includes a line that seems to argue for conspiring to prevent the disclosure of wrong-doing at the May meetings:
There is no doubt that, should CFU members individually take the high road, Caribbean football will suffer in the long run.
The most recent posting describes the Barbados Football Association's demand to Sepp Blatter to reinstate Lisle Austin as the head of the CFU; a somewhat problematic request since Mr. Austin has elevated the dispute to yet another level by seeking the intervention of Bahamian court (CONCACAF is supposed to be headquartered in Nassau). Mr. Austin has declared that he's received an injunction that once again installs him as President. And, well, he had a little more to say:
“I am gratified but not surprised by yesterday’s order,” Austin said of the injunction. “I have stood firm in my belief that I rightfully succeeded to the Acting Presidency of Concacaf and (the) order affirms my belief.”
This is kind of like celebrating a clean sheet after ten minutes, but, go on Mr. Austin, do tell:
“My efforts to lead the Confederation into a new era continue again today (Friday),” Austin stressed. “The rogue faction attacking Concacaf from within cannot interfere with our love of this sport and our pursuit of reform and transparency.”
One in a million. Absolutely priceless.

Regardless, we all know how FIFA feels about folks turning to courts of law for relief, so this should turn out well.

However, try as he might, Mr. Austin cannot outclass Jack Warner. Asked if he was going to the Bahamas to participate in the FIFA investigation, Mr. Warner replied:
“I not answering them questions. What you wasting my time for? I not talking to all you about that. Respect my wishes, nah.”
There you go. Don't waste his time. Respect his wishes. Always remember the golden rule: Do unto Teflon Jack as he would do on to you.

And, oh by the way, here's an English language article on the Curacao Football Association's press conference earlier this week confirming that $40,000 was offered to CFU members as a "gift" at the meeting.

And here's a contemporaneous article describing Mohammed Bin Hammam's May 10th meeting with CFU members. Given the subsequent fallout from the address, you have to love this summary of Mr. Bin Hammam's comments:

Bin Hammam mentioned that he did not believe FIFA was a corrupt organization. In light of reports that surfaced earlier in the day regarding allegations that four FIFA officials requested bribes from the England 2018 World Cup bid, Bin Hammam maintained that if there were allegations were to be true then sufficient evidence would have to be provided.

He added that he hoped FIFA would be more transparent and its decision-making process should involve more parties.

Not corrupt? A need for more transparency? Where do I sign up?

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