CONCACAF nations lash out at disgraced ex-leaders

Published May 23, 2012

| Associated Press

A damning list of alleged financial mismanagement by former CONCACAF leaders Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer was outlined to 40 soccer nations Wednesday, just minutes after they elected Jeffrey Webb as their new president.

The Cayman Islands banker was the only candidate to succeed disgraced former FIFA vice president Warner. He resigned last June to avoid an investigation of a bribery scandal.

CONCACAF officials shone a harsh light on its accounts, which have been analyzed since March by consultants BDO.

"Material weaknesses and significant deficiencies" in financial controls through 2010 were revealed and the body also had "potential tax liabilities" in excess of its $2 million allocated reserves, delegates were told.

Warner ruled CONCACAF and Caribbean soccer for almost three decades before he resigned last year under pressure from FIFA.

Soccer leaders from across central America and the Caribbean lined up to denounce Warner and the body's long-time general secretary Chuck Blazer for alleged "robbery" and "theft" after the state of the governing body's financial affairs was exposed.

Webb said he was "shell-shocked" by the body's financial affairs under the former leadership. He vowed to focus on the game and promised to shift the region's focus from "politics and economics" to soccer.

One year ago, Webb's home country was one of four whistle-blowers on allegations of bribery, involving Warner and Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam, who attempted to run against FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Webb said he was dismayed by bribery allegations against Warner and alleged wrongdoings of Blazer.

"The revelations cause me not to be so proud," Webb told delegates.

Blazer, who still represents CONCACAF on FIFA's executive committee, did not attend Wednesday's session, citing illness.

Most members applauded the suggestion that Blazer be investigated by a FIFA ethics panel. They hailed the new president for saying: "We have a responsibility to make sure the past ... will never be repeated."

CONCACAF, which is legally based in the Bahamas, has reported itself to the United States Internal Revenue Service because of reporting and compliance deficiencies, legal counsel John Collins said.

"It is difficult to predict what CONCACAF's exposure will be," Collins said.

Webb lamented that the confederation neglected the development and improvement of the game in the region of 540 million people.

"What has our focus been? Politics and economics. Let us focus on our game," Webb said. He urged greater transparency as CONCACAF attempts to reform and modernize in line with new FIFA guidelines.

"We must move the clouds and allow the sunshine in," Webb said, and added: "The 2026 World Cup belongs to CONCACAF."

Blatter hailed Webb's election to the post, which includes a seat on the world body's executive committee.

"The credibility of CONCACAF is back," Blatter told the delegates. "We also in FIFA need credibility, but we cannot have it if one of our confederations was still a little bit shaky."

Webb said CONCACAF members would be called to an extraordinary congress at the end of the year when the body's financial and tax affairs will be further scrutinized.

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