FIFA Ethics Committee to Proceed Against 16 Caribbean Officials

Following yesterdays' announcement of a one year suspension of CONCACAF VP Lisle Austin, FIFA today forwarded the names of 16 officials representing 11 Caribbean Footbal Union member federations to the Ethics Committee where Judge Robert Torres (Guam) will lead an investigation into their activities at the infamous Bin Hammam Bribe O Rama on May 10. And in a delightful slap in the face to Acting CFU President Horace Burrell and his suddenly-shrinking group of Warner loyalists, Torres announced that he has retained former Clinton FBI Director Louis Freehs' firm to once again conduct the field investigations.

You'll recall that most of the CFU federations initially refused to cooperate with Freehs' investigators on the grounds that they were Americans and, thus, were part of the broad conspiracy to punish - well, someone or other. Nobody is quite clear on that.

In this case however, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that refusing to deal with Freehs' people isn't the smart move.

Additionally, longtime Jack Warner ally, confidant and co-conspirator Colin Klass of Guyana has been "provisionally suspended" from taking part in any footballing activities worldwide.

Klass, who has been running Guyanese football for 25 years, is so roundly hated by his own national team players - largely because he steals match fees and leaves the team unpaid - that in 2008 they swore never to play again while he is head of the GFF. So he went out and found new players.

The officials, who will all be invited to personally tesitify, are:

David Hinds, Mark Bob Forde (Barbados) Franka Pickering, Aubrey Liburd (British Virgin Islands) David Frederick (Cayman Islands) Osiris Guzman, Felix Ledesma (Dominican Republic) Colin Klass, Noel Adonis (Guyana) Yves Jean-Bart (Haiti) Anthony Johnson (St. Kitts and Nevis) Patrick Mathurin (St. Lucia) Joseph Delves, Ian Hypolite (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) Richard Groden (Trinidad and Tobago) Hillaren Frederick (US Virgin Islands)

Many of these officials are on public record as flatly denying knowing anything about money being passed out in Port of Spain. Hinds, Pickering, Johnson and Guzman have been particularly vehement about it.

And Jean-Bart of Haiti - a federation utterly dependent on FIFA for every dime - was one of the people who delivered passionate pro-Blatter/anti-England speeches to the FIFA Congress just prior to the vote.

In their press release, FIFA also noted that "the investigation is ongoing" and that more officials may be included as additional facts come to light.

As for Crazy Lisle, he won't be conducting that audit any time soon:

Yesterday in Zurich FIFAs' Ethic Committee, chaired by Marcel Mathier of Switzerland, announced their decision in Austins' "Rent-a-Judge" complaint.

His punishment for blatantly violating FIFA statutes by taking a football case to what they term an "ordinary court"? A one year "ban" from the game.

They also demanded that he withdraw his case from the Bahamian Rent-a-Judge program and ruled that, irrespective of the 12 month suspension, until he does he's not allowed to come back and play with the other miserable slugs - I mean football officials.

They apparently ignored Austins' primary sin, which is that his first act upon assuming the leadership of CONCACAF was to fire the guy who blew the whistle on a major FIFA scandal. Unbelievably, he himself stated that that was the reason he was doing it.

In some of your more advanced cultures, organizations go to great lengths to make sure that retaliation against whistleblowers is discouraged. FIFA decided it wasn't even worth mentioning.

And that leaves aside the fact that the man has continued, even while under an official FIFA suspension, to publicly call for a "forensic audit" of CONCACAFs' finances despite the fact that he himself was one of the guys in charge.

One comparison we can look at is that of CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, who were the agents charged with handing out Bin Hammams' loot and getting signed receipts. (In fact, the CFUs' General Secretary told the committee that on the morning after the envelopes were handed out theTurks & Caicos, having slept on it, tracked Minguell down and gave theirs back.)

Neither one of them has ever agreed to tell FIFA what they alone know, but the Ethics Committee gave each of them a one year "ban" (I think most of us would agree that it is more aptly described as a "suspension") after which they are free to show back up for work at CFU headquarters, dust off their desks and get back to drawing a paycheck subsidized, if not entirely funded, by FIFA.

And they don't ever have to say a word. They can - and probably will - take their secrets to the grave.

Conversely, there's the case of former Barbados FA General Secretary Randy Harris who, partly because of actions perpetrated by fellow Barbadian Austin, also chose to take his grievances to a Bahamian court.

FIFA found him guilty of violating the exact same rule and gave him a four year ban despite the fact that, at the time, he was just the head of a small amateur club.

So an unpaid volunteer sued his local association and FIFA banned him for four years but a CONCACAF Vice President sues CONCACAF and FIFA and gets one.

The difference? Jack Warner wanted Harris silenced and FIFA obliged.