CONCACAF's Make-Believe Election Already Has a Winner

Whatever your political persuasions may be, I hope we can agree on one thing: that the American election cycle is way, way too long. By the time Election Day finally - mercifully - rolls around we're so sick of the constant bombardment of bullshit, half-truths and general silliness blaring out from every media outlet that a rational person would be justified in deciding to hate them all.

So how lovely it is that CONCACAF (with FIFA's connivance, to be sure) has decided to skip the whole painful procedure and announce both an election and a winner at the same time.

You will recall that ever since the untimely departure of Klepto-in-Chief Jack Warner, the leader of CONCACAF has had to carry the dreaded prefix "Acting" in front of the title "President" (Lisle Austin for about ten minutes one day and Alfredo Hawitt ever since), as a reminder that nobody actually elected him.

The Executive Committee has steadfastly maintained - with ample evidence - that the organization's constitution does not allow for special elections to fill unfortunate vacancies. Elections can only be held at the bi-annual General Congress and since the next one is currently scheduled for 2013, that's when the next guy will be elected.

The salient point being, as we all know, that their preference would be to NEVER hold another Presidential election; since the Caribbean has 30 votes and everybody else combined has ten, they control the Congress but the other two regions control the Executive Committee by a four-to-two margin.

Then suddenly, in a late Friday document dump that would make any government agency proud, CONCACAF quietly posted a notice on their website announcing that they will be holding a Congress on May 23 in Budapest which "will elect a new president to complete the term of Jack Warner."

(Yes, Budapest might be considered an odd place to trundle off a bunch of guys from tropical islands for a meeting, but the FIFA Congress is being held there the following day so they're just coming in a day early)

No mention is made regarding who called this meeting and under what constitutional authority it will be held, but there are three parties involved here:

1) The Caribbean Union federations, who are anxious to hold an election so they can put one of their own back in charge.

2) FIFA, in the person of Sepp Blatter, who is fighting for his position and needs the strong support of CONCACAF, which he will certainly have if the CFU is calling the shots.

3) The North and Central American federations, who like things just the way they are, thanks.

And it's now become clear that part of the deal with the "Caribbean Football Congress" which Sepp called last month - also, it should be noted, without a shred of constitutional authority - besides jamming some unelected representatives down the ExCo's throat and a bunch of hogwash about a "Normalization Committee" (another construct which lacks even the hint of constitutional authority) was the promise that if everybody played along that FIFA would get CONCACAF to put them back in the President's chair.

As recently noted in this space, the Caribbean has two guys who want to take over for Uncle Jack: Jamaican Horace "Captain" Burrell and the Cayman Island's own Jeffrey Webb, both longtime Blatter supporters.

(The fact that they were also longtime Warner cronies is both true and largely irrelevant. If you weren't loyal to Jack, you didn't hold office in Caribbean football for very long. It's kind of like when the Allies took over Germany in 1945 and started looking around for some guys to run the place who weren't somehow connected to the Nazis and quickly discovered that there simply wasn't anyone; all those guys were dead.)

It had the makings of an actual horse race, and I was gleefully looking forward to making up campaign slogans for them ("Not as crooked as Jack" or "I'll steal half as much as the other guy" or "Let's Really Stick it to Mexico and the US" or...well, you get the idea).

Sadly, Burrell took all the fun out of watching this mockery of democracy unfold this morning when the Jamaica Observer revealed that The Captain has bowed out of the race and is tossing his support to Jeff Webb.

Why? I'll let him explain:

"At this time I have decided to throw my support behind him (Webb) at the CONCACAF level so that I can concentrate on the Caribbean region as a whole.

"I think that very strong leadership is needed at this time within the Caribbean region and I fully understand the dynamics of the region and it would be sad not to devote my all to developing the Caribbean region and so my concentration at this time is to work with our people in the region."

Or, in plain English, Sepp Blatter has brokered a deal whereby Webb gets CONCACAF, Burrell gets the CFU and everybody else down there gets a bunch of cash.

And isn't it interesting that, just a week ago, Blatter named Burrell to a host of important FIFA Committees, including the much-desired Olympics Organizing Board? Why, if you didn't know better, you'd swear he was being paid off for something.

I don't know about you, but I just love watching democracy in action.

As for Hawitt and the North/Central block, it's impossible to know how this went down.

Clearly they could raise a fuss if they wanted, although everybody knows that rocking the boat is not how they play the game in international football. Since the constitution gives them ultimate executive authority they could have gone so far as to declare the whole thing invalid, but we're getting only silence.

Is it possible that part of the deal includes Hawitt's proposal - which he says he made "to FIFA" - regarding a rotating Presidency with each region getting a four year stint in the Big Chair?

That and other questions will remain unanswered, at least until white smoke appears from the little pipe above the Boscolo New York Palace Hotel in Budapest on May 23 and Jeffrey Webb appears on the balcony to the acclaim of one and all.

The irony of the fact that the hotel is called "New York", the former home of CONCACAF during the Warner years, will undoubtedly be lost on all and sundry.

And so it goes.