In a terse announcement on the CONCACAF website late last night, the organizations' Executive Committe announced that it has PROVISIONALLY BANNED Vice President and (formerly) acting President Lisle Austin pending a disciplinary hearing.
Just when you thought this couldn't get any better.
CONCACAF says that Vice President Alfredo Hawit of Honduras is now acting President, making today the first in 30 years that someone other than a Caribbean representative has been at it's helm.
The decision was reached "by the Majority of the CONCACAF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS, composed of: Hawit, Justino Compean (Mexico), Ariel Alvarado (Panama) and Sunil Gulati (USA)".
And as a special added slap square in Austins' face, the notification letter is signed: John P. Collins, Counsel to CONCACAF.
That would be the same John P. Collins whom Austin fired after ordering General Secretary Chuck Blazer to cease all communication with him.
The official notification cites:
"Possible violations of CONCACAF Statues, FIFA Statutes, Regulations, Decisions and Code of Ethics, and Breach of Fiduciary Duty to CONCACAF
CONCACAF Statutes Articles 28 and 41 and the FIFA Disciplinary Code"
The "Terms of Provisional Measure" include Austin being "banned from taking part in any kind of football related activity within CONCACAF and at the national level (administrative, sports or any other)"
Translation: Don't show up at any Gold Cup venues or we'll have you thrown out.
Furthermore, the Confederation has asked FIFA to "extend the terms of the provisional measure to have worldwide effect."
Translation: Just so you're aware, we cleared this with Valcke and Blatter already.
The conclusion is an absolute howler, demonstrating a really perverse sense of humor:
"This provisional ban may be appealed to the CONCACAF Executive Committee by filing written notice of appeal with the CONCACAF Secretary General's office in New York".
Translation: If you'd like, you can come begging to Chuck Blazer who'll be sitting in the offices you claimed he was a "trespasser" in. Haha.
The sad part for Austin is that it didn't have to be this way.
He could have chosen to slide into the Presidency, behaved in a dignified, professional and restrained manner, showed some real leadership in a time of crisis and - with the Gold Cup literally upon us - done his level best to make sure that there was no ugly spillover into the competition.
What he did instead, probably with Jack Warners' advice, was make a bold bid for power, taking the same path that Warner always took: make the whole thing an "us vs. them" contest with the CFU on one side and everybody else on the other.
So he "fired" "The American" Chuck Blazer, ordered an audit of the CONCACAF books, demanded that Blazer "present himself" to his august presence "within 48 hours" so that he could "explain his actions" and all of that absurd crap that was never going to happen.
The fact is that Austin knew all along "by what authority" Blazer had acted: he's an ExCo member. which gives him incredible latitude. He's not some schmuck "employee" as Austin tried to portray it; he's one ofthe 24 men who rule world football.
If he wants to pick up the phone and call Zurich then that's what he bloody well does, and if Jerome Valcke tells him to investigate something then that's exactly what will happen.
Austin had quite literally no leg to stand on and trying to bluff Blazer was a fools' errand.
Of course what Austin was really doing was trying to show the CFU boys that he could shove the North Americans around just as well as Jack did, make himself a hero within the region, knock Blazer out of the way, grab the coveted FIFA ExCo seat for himself (which is the Golden RIng for all of these guys), become a world class player and start getting rich. He was going to be the New Jack Warner.
But Austin overplayed his hand while at the same time underestimating - I think - the desire of the North and Central American contingents to stop having the term CONCACAF be synonymous, worldwide, with "Den of Thieves".
What's more, he forgot the key fact here: yes, the CFU bunch can overwhelm the votes of the other 10 federations, but the Congress has to be in session to do it.
Between Congresses it's the Executive Committee that runs CONCACAF and the math there is different: two North American members, two Central American members and two Caribbean members. The President doesn't even get a vote unless there's a tie.
Warner-friendly media has been frantically pushing articles LIKE THIS ONE which states:
"LISLE AUSTIN, CONCACAF's acting president yesterday silenced all questions on whether he had the authority to fire general secretary Chuck Blazer, the whistle-blower behind the FIFA bribery allegations. Austin responded to questions from four of the Confederation's executive committee members —Alfredo Hawit , Justino Compean, Ariel Alvarado, Sunil Gulati— and said Blazer's dismissal was "constitutional".
Austin "silenced all questions" by way of saying the word "constitutional"? Gosh, that's great. Now we can all move along.
Warner could have pulled it off; he is the master of the non-sequiter, self-referencing authoritative declaration. Austin simply can't get away with it and all the "Rally Round the Flag" Waneresque talk about not bowing to COLONIAL MASTERS won't change it.
Sure he's got disgraceful clowns like "Captain" Horace Burrell of Jamaica, who is out there gamely issuing statements:
“Let me state categorically that the (Jamaica federation) was not offered, neither received any funds prior to, during
nor after the CFU meeting held May 10-11 in Trinidad,”
But nobody believes him.
For his part, Warner is having enough trouble just KEEPING THE HOUNDS AT BAY IN T&T. His political crnoies managed to gin up a Rent-a-Rally for him at the airport yesterday but it had more an air of glum, joyless desperation than enthusiasm:
And nobody really believes that, come the rally tomorrow, he's going to unveil a smoking gun that will magically sink Sepp Blatter and get him back into the drivers' seat at CONCACAF.
That ship has sailed and the docking space taken up by the S.S. Louis Freeh, whose frowning 16 inch guns don't bode well for "Teflon Jack" to emerge with anything like the power he once wielded.
*In an almost foolishly defiant email, someone named Hema Ramkissoon said that Austin DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY he's been suspended, and then goes on to demonstrate....exactly why he's been suspended:
“Some members of the executive committee are clearly engaging in illegal actions at the prodding of forces which do not have the best interest of Concacaf at heart
“Mr. Austin intends to address their continued illegal action at all levels. And Members of the executive committee are now placed on notice.”
Ramkissoon did not specify just what they were "placed on notice" for, exactly. Perhaps more ludicrous, empty threats.
Austin said that staff or other association members who worked with Alfredo Hawitt, who was named as acting president in his place, would be acting illegally"
Forget Captain Burrell; Lisle Austin is beginning to look more like Captain Queeg.