Historic: CONCACAF Elects a Woman to FIFA's Executive Committee, Blows Up Traffic Sports and Rewrites All the Rules

You may recall that one of the few "reform committee" recommendations which FIFA President Sepp Blatter was willing to agree to was the one that said there really ought to be a woman or two on the Executive Committee.

Problem being of course that no confederation was even remotely likely to elect one. Like, ever.

Finally, more out of embarrassment than anything else, they decided to create one seat which would be the token woman chair and elected conspicuously compliant Burundian Princess Lydia Nsekera, who - representing no one at all - quietly took her place and her estimated $300,000 salary plus expenses and shut up.

Just as her longtime mentor Sepp Blatter knew she would.

So FIFA has had a woman on the ExCo for a couple of years now but it was a back door play signifying nothing much beyond FIFA trying to look progressive.

 

All that changed forever on Saturday - but not announced until yesterday for some reason - when CONCACAF's own Executive Committee, meeting in Vancouver BC, elected Sonia Bien-Aime, a former Turks & Caicos international and currently President of their FA, to fill the Caribbean seat vacated by the currently incarcerated Jeff Webb. 

She was last seen standing next to Sunil Gulati at the awards presentation after the WWC final and it seemed only a little odd since she was already the highest-ranking elected female in CONCACAF. But now we know that she and Sunil and CSA President Victor Montagliani had a secret:

That a seemingly unbreakable glass window - the one which has kept women from playing a meaningful role in the governance of world football for all of FIFA's 111 years - had been smashed by the smiling lady helping to pass out the medals.

She won't be there as decoration, or as a sop to appearances. She'll be the sole representative of 25 FIFA federations. I suggest that nobody ask her to go fetch the coffee.

Bien-Aime will take her seat on July 20 when the ExCo meets to figure out just what in the hell Sepp Blatter is doing and how much longer he figures he can get away with doing it.

Yet as significant - even historic - as this development may be it's only the latest in a string of changes which the Gang of Three - Compean, Gulati and Montagliani are shoving down CONCACAF's throat.

Somehow - and we've yet to see an actual explanation - those three gentlemen, representing Mexico, the US and Canada respectively, have collectively and officially taken over the confederation with nary a peep from Central America or the Caribbean.

As the duly appointed "Reform Committee" now running the place - Alfredo Hawit please call your office - they're tearing it up root and stem.

On Monday they announced a series of reforms, which have been approved and are now being implemented, that are anything but window dressing. They will fundamentally change CONCACAF forever.

Term limits for all officials. Individual compensation and financial statements will be available on line for all officials, as will every line item of every budget.

They'll be hiring an entirely independent Compliance Officer who can go where he wants, look at anything he likes and tell anybody he pleases about what he discovers, and establishing a Whistleblower Hotline which rings to not to the President but to the independent audit committee.

And there's more: background checks for all officials, changes in election procedures, supervision of elections by independent auditors, on and on. It  amounts to a cornucopia of reforms that will make CONCACAF possibly the most transparent organization in world sport if not in the world period.

Make no mistake: the old ways are now as dead as Julius Caesar.

Then, on Tuesday, they announced that they were "dissolving" their commercial rights agreement with Traffic Sports, claiming that the decision was "mutual".

Of course, since Traffic Sport's entire management structure is either under indictment or in jail it's hard to see who was left to agree to a damn thing.

CONCACAF said the terminated agreement with Traffic Sports USA included rights to the next four editions of the Gold Cup (2015, 2017, 2019, 2021), as well as seven seasons of the CONCACAF Champions League, among other tournaments.

Hundreds of millions of dollars, up in smoke like a Chinese index fund.

Bye boys. Enjoy prison.

In related news, a court document obtained by Reuters shows that the previously thought to be squeaky-clean but currently incarcerated CONCACAF Ex-President Jeff Webb was in fact a director of the company which Jack Warner set up to launder World Cup TV rights monies.

You may recall that Sepp Blatter used to routinely give Jack Warner TV broadcast rights for the entire Caribbean basin for one dollar. He did this in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Blatter claimed this was so that the CFU could then sell them for whatever they could get and use the money for "development".

Or, in Jack's case, Miami real estate.

Anyway, the document shows that in just one of those years, 2001, Warner sold the rights for $4.3 million and passed the cash on the Webb, who set up a shell company in the Cayman Islands where nobody could get to it.

This is the same man who swore he was going to "clean up" CONCACAF.

In a delicious piece of irony, Webb will in all likelihood lose his million dollar home in Atlanta because of a swimming pool.

Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Webb - who hasn't set foot in the Cayman Islands for a year or more - lives in a 10,000 square foot home on 2.7 acres outside Atlanta Georgia with his wife of 3 years, Kendra Gamble-Webb, a respected Obstetrician.

Since they purchased the place before he took over CONCACAF, and in any case his wife is on the deed with provable income of her own, the Justice Department apparently - what do I know? - couldn't claim it as representing profit from dirty Traffic Sports money.

However, a year or so ago Webb decided to have a swimming pool installed. He had his also-indicted associate Costas Takkas take a portion of a $3 million bribe from Traffic Sports and pay the contractor.

Who in turn built them a lovely pool. Which became part of the premises. Which will allow the US DOJ to take the whole place.

Bummer for Jeff. Then again, being in prison and all he wasn't going to have much opportunity to use the thing anyway.

All of which may help explain a minor mystery:

While Webb is under lock and key - Swiss officials say he's locked down 23 hours a day - he, like any other prisoner awaiting extradition, is allowed only two visitors: his wife and his attorney.

For reasons which no one can explain, it appears that Dr. Gamble-Webb has not made the journey to Zurich to check in on her mate.

Not even once.

Maybe she's busy house shopping.