Goodbye New York: CONCACAF Heading South

We all know how it works. Some friend, acquaintance or guy you just met ten minutes ago casually mentions that he's moving into a new place in a few days and asks if you're available for a couple hours.

Because you've had a few and feel nothing but love for your fellow man - not to mention that redhead at the end of the bar with legs that go on and on forever - you say "sure, no problem" and end up working like a Turkish galley slave for a day in return for a couple of warm Bud lights, some cheap corporate pizza and a screwed up knee from hoicking an eight foot couch down three flights of stairs basically by yourself since the guy on the other end is his lazy idiot brother who's never done an hours worth of work in his life and isn't about to start now.

If this is a reasonable description of the kind of situation you find yourself in, be advised that if you should happen to see CONCACAF President-for-the-Moment" Alfredo Hawit walk into your local watering hole, run like hell for the back door: CONCACAF is moving.

Thanks to the ever-alert Paul Calixte who passed along this nugget regarding Hawit's intentions for the future, we now know where to forward the mail.

You may recall how, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that Miami is far and away the best place for CONCACAF to have it's offices, due to it's central location, plethora of hotel rooms and easy access by air from pretty much the entire region.

Which is an important point to remember when talking about our beloved confederation, where an awful lot of our fellow members are small and poor and their transportation facilities consist of two-mule terminals like Wallblake, the only airport in Antigua and a place so small and difficult to fly into that it's prominently featured in Flight Sim X, where even landing in a freakin helicopter is considered a monumental test of your skills.

Simply finding a flight to ANYWHERE from many of the CFU countries can be a hell of a challenge even if the place features a really short guy who runs around yelling "Ze plane, Boss, ze plane!".

Point being, this decision is so logical and makes so much sense and so obviously benefits everyone that one is literally shocked that they made it.

It's long been the rule in football - the CFU even codifies it - that an organization's headquarters are located in the city where the General Secretary resides.

Which is how CONCACAF ended up in New York, Chuck Blazer's residence of choice.

So once Blazer announced his resignation, it was a foregone conclusion that the offices were moving as well. In the article Paul forwarded Hawit comments that the rent at Trump Tower was pretty pricey which is more than likely true, but they were leaving town anyway.

Nevertheless, it will be a huge break with custom for the new GenSec - and they're keeping his identity close to the vest despite the fact that, with less than two months to go until Blazer's departure, there's not much doubt that someone has been tabbed - to have to take his talents to South Beach (bet on a Mexican, even though I keep hearing Guatemala), although I can't believe whoever it is will put up much of a fight.

A side benefit, of course, is that representatives from almost any country in CONCACAF can feel reasonably at home there, with the glaring exception of Suriname. I'm not aware of a large Dutch speaking community in South Florida but on the other hand even a cursory glance at a map shows Suriname located squarely in South America and nobody knows what they're doing in this Confederation anyway, so who gives a damn if they have to pack their own food?

Furthermore, although my Spanish is pretty weak, (I'm certain that someone will help me out here) Hawit seems to be saying that they're going to make the move to Miami permanent by building their own place rather than renting, which they've always done.

Perhaps one part of that is economic; they currently rent space in New York, Miami and Port-of-Spain, although I'm not sure the checks are still flowing in the latter direction, particularly since a) Jack Warner was the landlord there and b) he won't let anyone from CONCACAF inside, preferring to cherry pick the documents he slips to Andrew Jennings himself.

If they consolidate the three offices, that all by itself should save a bundle in rent I would think. Toss in lights, phones and the wages of the people who rifle the desks at night while they're supposed to be cleaning and it really adds up.

Unfortunately, as we all know, CONCACAF spent $16 million building the Joao Havelange Center for Excellence, with it's contemplation gardens, Olympic sized swimming pool, meeting and banquet facilities, a lovely little soccer stadium with 6,000 seats, a full sized practice field, two mini-fields, an indoor field and a 50-bed residence hotel, in Macoya (just outside of Port of Spain) , which is about as inaccessible to the rest of the Confederation as it's possible to be, even if Jack hands over the keys one day, which seems unlikely.

In fact, someone passed along a tidbit that I don't entirely understand but seems to say that Warner is using the place as a legal DBA for himself.

Bottom line, CONCACAF will never set foot in the place again; I would have said it was impossible to actually steal a stadium and a set of buildings, but that was obviously underestimating Jack Warner, but nobody really wants to use the place anyway. It was never anything but a monument to Warner's ego anyway.

Some guys get a gold watch when they retire; Jack got a $16 million sports complex.

Still, cynicism aside, it's hard to imagine that keeping CONCACAF in the US was a decision made entirely on the basis of what makes the most sense.

Particularly since the Caribbean is still furious at what they see as our secret conspiracy to get rid of Jack Warner, and seeing as how neither the FMF nor the Central Americans were ever huge fans of it being here in the first place, you just have to believe that there's something more involved.

But at the end of the day, there are only two possible explanations:

1) CONCACAF chose a course of action based on what was truly the right thing to do


2) Sunil Gulati is flexing his muscles, and keeping CONCACAF in the US is the price he demanded for going along with the program The Three Amigos have in mind.

The first would be an indication that the confederation may be entering an era of rational leadership.

The second would indicate that Gulati is not simply a (badly) stuffed Brooks Borthers suit they wheel out for special events.

Either one is cause for cautious optimism.