PtG Article 22.04.2013

Jack Warner quits over CONCACAF integrity report

A report released during the CONCACAF congress in Panama this weekend outlines harsh allegations of fund embezzlement committed by then FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer.

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) integrity report has been under way since June last year and was commissioned by Jeff Webb who took over the precidency of CONCACAF after Jack Warner stepped down from the post in response to bribery allegations raised by Blazer, in relation to Mohamed bin Hammam’s  campaign for FIFA president. Warner has since held the post as Minister for National Security in his native Trinidad and Tobago, a post he resigned from after the disclosure of the report this weekend, writes AP.

When the report was presented to the CONCACAF congress on Friday, David Simmons, CONCACAF integrity judge in charge of the report said:

“I have recounted a sad and sorry tale in the life of CONCACAF, a tale of abuse of position and power, by persons who assisted in bringing the organisation to profitability but who enriched themselves at the expense of their very own organisations.”

The two main characters in the report are Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer and although the report acknowledges that the two executives have been very active in promoting football in the region, they have also been working hard for their own gain and have been covering up for each other:

“Nevertheless, it is equally apparent that Warner and Blazer, together and individually, used their official positions to promote their own self-interests, and frequently acted with disregard for the interests of the CONCACAF member associations and with disdain for the rules that governed their conduct. Furthermore, it is apparent that Warner and Blazer each was aware of the risk of potential misconduct posed by the other and was most capable of holding the other accountable; but neither did so, at least in part, to preserve the unfettered freedom to act in his own self-interest. This mutual lack of accountability enabled Warner and Blazer to coexist in unity for many years until May 2011, when Blazer disrupted the balance by reporting Warner to FIFA for ethics violations related to Mohamed bin Hammam’s campaign for President of FIFA,” the report states.

One of the issues disclosed in the report is a case involving the Australian bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, who allegedly offered 462,200 US dollars to a ‘stadium upgrade’ in Trinidad. According to the report, the money could not be accounted for and seem to have gone to a personal account of Warner’s, writes Australian Bonita Mersiades who used to work for the Australian Football Federation.

For blogger Roger Pielke Jr., who assesses the amount of money involved in the cases accounted for in the integrity report to be 88 million US dollars, one of the main questions this report raises is how FIFA chooses to act on it. In the ongoing reform process in FIFA, the international body has rejected two recommendations from the Independent Governance Committee (IGC) in charge of the reform process. These two recommendations relate to integrity checks of the executive members of FIFA.

“Because FIFA has also rejected the (…) recommendation of the IGC, FIFA is in effect saying that it does not want to have the capability to identify such fraudulant activities – even when it comes to the misappropriation of FIFA funds," Pilke writes.

“Football governance has reached another important fork in the road,” Pielke concludes his blog post.

The international director of Play the Game, Jens Sejer Andersen, praises the quality of CONCACAF’s investigations:

“It is encouraging to see that such a revealing report can be published by the football community itself. If American and Caribbean football leaders could get inspiration from FIFA in the past with regard to the most creative ways of corruption, FIFA can learn a lot from CONCACAF today with regard to cleaning up its acts,” Jens Sejer Andersen says.

“It is telling that it took a complete change of CONCACAF’s leadership to reach this degree of transparency. Since FIFA’s leadership seems determined to stay in power, we have unfortunately little reason to believe that FIFA is willing to disclose its internal secrets in a foreseeable future.”SOURCES: