FIFA Grand Poohbah Sepp Blatter stopped by the CONCACAF Clambake in Budapest yesterday long enough to grab a photo with Jeff Webb, presumably for use the next time he needs to come up with a "This proves I'm not a racist; I even let black people touch me occasionally" shot.
So many captions, so little time.
A beaming Blatter told the assembly:
“You have taken a great step forward. The credibility of CONCACAF is back, and this is very important because in FIFA we need our credibility back, and we cannot have it if one of the big confederations was still a little bit shaky.”
So that only leaves the CAF, AFC, Oceania and...well, pretty much everybody and everything else.
Unfortunately, it would have been impolite for anyone to mention that it was Blatter's refusal to do a damned thing for the last 20 years as Jack Warner raped, pillaged and looted CONCACAF for his own personal profit that created the mess in the first place.
Instead, the newly minted Confederation President took the podium and, addressing FIFA's President-in-Waiting, stated that his organization is on the come football-wise and will soon stand with the giants:
“We must say to Michel Platini and UEFA, that CONCACAF will win the World Cup.
We must say to President Blatter and the FIFA executive committee that the 2026 World Cup belongs to CONCACAF.”
Well, like they say: it's possible but that's not the way to bet.
Unless of course he literally means "CONCACAF", instead of one of the 35 members thereof. Maybe Calixte can put together a Confederation All Star Team for us that could take down The Big Boys.
As it is, I doubt Platini lost any sleep.
Aside from the Blatter-Webb Festival de Manlove, the meeting was a barnburner.
It got so heated that at one point Jose Brenes-La Roche, VP of the Puerto Rico FA, tried to move a resolution demanding the immediate resignation of the entire Executive Committee - Campeon, Gulati, Hawitt, the whole bunch - but Webb wouldn't let it go to a vote.
This whole thing started shortly after Chuck Blazer's December 31 resignation.
In March an audit was begun, conducted by a New York-based consulting firm called BDO. (More about them HERE).
At this point the audit is incomplete and the final results aren't due until the end of the year when CONCACAF will call a Special Congress to review the results. As of today, they have not, for example, even talked to Blazer, although he says he is eager to do so.
So with that in mind, I can offer up a little more detail on some of the preliminary findings:
With regard to the Joao Havelange Center of Excellence in T&T, there are several problems, but the big one is not that Warner put the thing in his own name (or rather, titled it to two companies he owns).
The real problem is that in 2007 Warner and CONCACAF President-for-a-Day Lisle Austin - remember him? - took out a huge mortgage on the place, pocketed the money and have now defaulted on the loan.
The auditors are trying to determine an actual valuation - the $22.5 million figure is a WAG of the first magnitude - but it's not clear what difference it makes. Suing Jack Warner would be a long and costly affair which would certainly drag on for years and in the end he'll figure out a way to avoid paying.
In any case, Collins told the shell-shocked room, "other legal actions" being undertaken against the Center by unspecified third parties, would make a lawsuit extremely doubtful.
But CONCACAF can't responsibly just walk away from a $22.5 million asset. What they'll do is anyone's guess, but Collins made it reasonably clear that, basically, that money is gone forever.
(As a side note on Lisle Austin, the Congress was told that defending against his various lawsuits demanding reinstatement cost CONCACAF a cool $800,000 in legal fees. Like the saying goes, the only people who win in the end are the lawyers.)
As far as the Blazer kerfuffle - which, in truth, pales significantly in the face of Warner's blatant public theft of $20 million - as they say on Facebook when describing love relationships: it's complicated.
The issue that made headlines yesterday - the tax liability - is a long ways from nailed down, but it involves unfiled US Federal Tax Returns of 2007 through 2011.
In a media statement that went out late yesterday, Blazer explained that CONCACAF did not show a profit in the USA in those years and as a registered non-profit organization they are not legally required to file a return for those years.
(Remember that while CONCACAF has (had) an administrative HQ in New York, its actual headquarters building was in Port of Spain Trinidad, and its legal domicile is Bermuda.
Like I said: it's complicated.)
To be sure, BDO's accounting people aren't certain that this is a correct interpretation of the law, and they asked the IRS for a ruling. That merry band has taken the issue under advisement and will issue a decision after they've had an opportunity to review the facts.
Apparently the room went silent when Collins told them that if the IRS decides that CONCACAF has to pay up, it's likely looking at a bill for $2 million, and penalties could double that number.
Then, as they were getting their heads around that one, Collins laid another bombshell on them, namely that Blazer is suing CONCACAF for between $4 and $5 million bucks, and it's entirely possible he's got a case.
Put another way, they may soon be forced to write a $5 million check to a guy that a lot of them would like to see strung up.
Blazer, you'll recall, has a legally binding contract, signed and openly approved by the relevant CONCACAF authorities, granting him a 10% commission on TV deals that he negotiates on their behalf.
He has presented them with a bill for his 2010 services, which they are refusing to pay, and as a result he has either already filed suit (CONCACAF's version) or is getting ready to do so (Blazer's version).
When the Congress heard this, they went nuts. To use the technical term.
Various proposals were angrily put forth, including setting up a Board of Inquiry, firing the entire Executive Committee and setting fire to Trump Tower with Blazer inside.
Well, OK, so I'm making that last one up, although Webb did announce that his first cost-cutting measure will be to terminate the $1 million per year lease on the Trump Tower offices.
Which isn't much of a surprise to anyone since Hawitt moved the Headquarters to Miami, but they crowd was in the mood for SOMETHING.
They then talked about removing Blazer from the ExCo seat, but someone pointed out that FIFA bylaws don't allow them do that. (Only FIFA has that power). So they voted to ask FIFA to do so, a request which is almost certain to be ignored.
Their biggest regret was that Blazer was not present. He announced that he had suddenly taken ill. More than one observer remrked that this was a "strategic" illness.
Myself, I'd call it common sense.