Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tick Tock ...

Perhaps the strategy devised by the Caribbean Football Union's leadership in response to their May 10th meeting with Bin Hammam -- hold firm, stick together, deny, and wait for things to blow over -- was a wee bit flawed.

You've got forty-eight hours:

"FIFA sent a letter yesterday (25 July) to all CFU associations, asking the associations, their presidents, and any of their members with knowledge of anything that transpired during the meetings held on 10 and 11 May in Trinidad and Tobago to provide and report all relevant information in their possession within 48 hours.

"Truthful and complete reporting will be considered in mitigation by the Ethics Committee when deciding on potential sanctions. Any person who has relevant information but does not come forward during this 48 hour period will be subject to the full range of sanctions.

"Following this 48 hour period, the Ethics Committee will be asked to open the necessary ethics proceedings."

Skysports has the current standings:

25 associations --

1 did not attend (Cuba)

4 failed to meet with investigators (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Montserrat -- note that while no one from Dominica may have met with investigators, that has not stopped Patrick John, the association's President, from talking openly about the meeting in the press).

11 met with investigators but denied receiving cash gifts (Barbados, Guyana, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

9 informed FIFA they were given or offered $40k at the meeting (the Skysports article doesn't list the countries but five of the nine are the football associations of the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Turks & Caicos and representatives of the football associations of Suriname and Curacao have publicly acknowledged that $40k was offered at the meeting. The last two countries not listed in the three other categories are Aruba and Grenada).

Of the eleven that denied receiving gifts, some went further.

The head of the British Virgin Islands' football association, Franka Pickering, told The Independent that she saw no evidence of any bribes at the meeting.

Carlos Prowell, representing Colin Klass and the good folks at the football association in Guyana, told local news outlets that not only was no money taken by his impeccable organization, none was offered.

Representatives of the football association of Barbados have said in statements to the press that no payments were made at the meeting (they've made it pellucid).

Also interesting from the breakdown is that the group of eleven CFU member associations reportedly represented by Colin Henry includes members that have acknowledged the offer of a bribe (the Cayman Islands and Grenada), others that have refused to cooperate with FIFA (Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda), as well as the core group of CFU's leadership (Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana). How the interests of all eleven -- which, at this point, clearly diverge -- can be represented by the same counsel is an interesting question.

In any event, FIFA has issued an ultimatum. What say you?

If you're Jamaica's Captain Horace Burrell (and acting President of the CFU), you're doubling down. And so too is Oliver Camps, the President of Trinidad & Tobago's Football Federation.

So that should be fun.

But if you were to ask me what was the best part, the absolute best part of this story? How about what Louis Freeh's report had to say about one Colin Klass. From the Irish Times:
The Freeh report also includes statements about Colin Klass, a CFU executive committee member and president of the Guyana FA, who orchestrated a campaign by other associations to write letters backing Warner and saying there was no offer or talk about cash gifts at the Trinidad meeting.

The report quotes evidence from Bahamas vice-president Fred Lunn, who took a photo of the cash he was given before returning it on the afternoon of May 10th, stating that Klass went into the room when the money was being given.

The report states: “Outside the boardroom, Mr Lunn encountered Lionel Haven (a former Bahamas FA board member) and Colin Klass.

“According to Mr Lunn, Mr Klass stated: ‘Why is this door locked, are there people getting bribed around here?’ The male \[CFU official] then allowed Mr Klass to enter the boardroom, which he exited after a few minutes. Mr Lunn noticed that Mr Klass had a smile on his face and was slightly giggling.”

Klass told investigators however that he did not go into the boardroom.

The report states: “Mr Klass tried to enter the CFU boardroom on the afternoon of May 10th, but was told that the room was not for him. Mr Klass remembered that Mr Warner said on May 11th that the only gifts were a laptop computer and projector.

“Mr Klass... stated that \[he] had not been offered or received any cash gift while in Trinidad and Tobago at the meeting.”

If Mr. Klass had a smile on his face then, he doesn't have one now.

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