CONCACAF: Buddy Can You Spare a Hooker?

Jack Warner may have resigned from the Presidency of CONCACAF way back in 2011, but for his various well-placed Caribbean minions the party didn't really end until last week in Miami.

The whole gang was there, many of them being the exact same people who last saw Warner in exotic Port of Spain when, in the midst of a hotly contested FIFA Presidential election, the lavishly wined and dined delegates were brought together to hear the candidate speak and then were handed manila envelopes each containing $40,000 in crisp US $100 bills.

For, you know, "development".

While the various federation Presidents are not notable for their appreciation of irony, they cannot have failed to notice the contrast.

Brought together to hear presentations from the current crop of contemptible swine contending for Sepp Blatter's seat, anyone looking around for the customary five star hospitality was sorely disappointed, and the reason is simple:

CONCACAF is broke.

FIFA has suspended the usual cash injections upon which the confederations depend for their champagne and oysters. Also their copy paper and phone bills, but nobody really cares about those.

Additionally, the US Dept of Justice and the IRS have frozen some of their accounts pending an investigation which has seen the last three Presidents indicted, with two of them jailed and the third fighting an extradition battle that he's going to lose.

So instead of bathing in luxury at a five star resort, the representatives were assembled at that lovely tribute to Soviet-era architecture known as the Miami Airport Sheraton where the rooms run a decidedly pedestrian $113 a night and they don't have honor bars. (Insert ironic joke here)

 

As for the small army of prostitutes for which these meetings are notorious, likely the only hookers at the Airport Sheraton were there because they missed a connecting flight and United or Delta had to put them up for the night.

The delegates were gathered together in the kind of sparse hotel conference room where plumbing supply sales people hold trade shows and real estate agents meet to hear "YES YOU CAN" from some clown who probably really can't or he wouldn't be wasting his time babbling rubbish.

There, sitting on what was described as "cheap folding chairs", the only refreshment in sight was some room temperature bottles of water on an unadorned folding table.

Absent was the lavish food and limitless top shelf drink of days gone by; instead, each attendee was handed a voucher good for one meal - liquor extra - at the hotel's in-house restaurant.

Why, it's almost as if someone was making a point.

Who exactly was making it, however, is a complicated question, which leads me to a heartfelt mea culpa:

A few weeks ago, on the heels of the arrest of CONCACAF President Alfredo Hawitt, your faithful correspondent wrote that as a result the new head of the confederation was Mexico's Justino Compean.

I was wrong.

You see, Compean, being a pragmatic man, noted that the previous three occupants of said office are now facing long prison terms and ruinous financial seizures at the hands of the US Government, and decided to turn it down.

So instead, CONCACAF is being run by a committee which, not at all coincidentally, consists of the three North American ExCo members (Compean, Gulati and Montagliani) plus a Cuban, a Panamanian, former female star Sonia Bien-Aime and, just for comedy, the hopelessly corrupt "Captain" Horace Burrell of Jamaica.

Hey, it's not CONCACAF's fault that the CFU's people keep running afoul of Loretta Lynch. Pity, really.

As for replacing them, well, the ExCo has been studiously avoiding holding any kind of election since the day Swiss Police hauled Jeff Webb off in handcuffs. This is in stark contrast to 2011 when, in the wake of Jack Warner's untimely resignation, Sepp Blatter demanded a special CONCACAF Congress be held immediately and had his special stooge Webb elected so that he could continue business as usual.

Webb, busy hosting lavish champagne and caviar events at his sumptuous Atlanta home, like the recent "Harlem Renaissance Party", was unavailable for comment.

Just remember kids: crime does not pay.

Just remember kids: crime does not pay.

 

The confederation, as per it's constitution, will be holding an election in May and we'll discuss that another time, although if you're looking for an early favorite put your money on Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani.

Not because he's so beloved in the Caribbean but because Gulati, Compean and the rest of the feds who, as the latter so eloquently put it, "bring the money", are done screwing around. They're deeply humiliated by being connected with all the sleaze, and they're just not going to put up with it any longer.

Not because of any sense of right and wrong; they gave up any claim to morality by sitting around for years watching Jack Warner literally loot regional soccer blind and saying not one word. No, their problem is that all of a sudden it's bad for business.

The show kicked off with ludicrous 20 minute presentations from the four sleazeballs vying for FIFA's Presidency (sadly, our friend Tokyo Sexwale was a no-show), which amounted entirely to an argument over just how much more FIFA money should be handed out to the federations, with one candidate flatly promising an increase from a paltry $250,000 to a whopping $5,000,000 each!

Not that he's trying to buy your vote. Nothing of the sort. It's all about "development".

After that, they got down to the business for which the ostentatious display of austerity was the setup, namely that the people currently running CONCACAF have developed a new set of rules that they all damned well better approve if they know what's good for them.

The new constitution, developed entirely by the three North American Presidents, is unlike the proposed FIFA reforms in that they will actually change things as opposed to just shutting up the media with a bunch of babble.

The list of changes is long, including independent members on the ExCo instead of just political insiders, term limits for all members, complete transparency in all salaries, expenses and payments, a pre-approval system for vendors conducted by outside auditors, a full time financial consultancy with limitless access, an independent Compliance Officer reporting to an independent auditing committee, a whistle blower hotline, on and on and on.

In its totality, the thing is breathtaking. They mean for things to change.

It's a good thing they didn't feed the delegates, because a lot of them would have been throwing up at that point. And then it got worse.

Next up was CONCACAF's lawyers, who gave it to them cold and raw:

If you don't pass these changes, they warned, you're going to have serious problems with broadcast partners, sponsors, banks and FIFA itself, and run the risk of local government action.

Furthermore, CONCACAF is currently viewed as a victim by the Department of Justice and is conducting an internal investigation in coordination with the department.

But, the lawyers warned, they risked losing that status if they did not enact changes.

"Without reform CONCACAF risks - criminal convictions or deferred/non prosecution agreement; disbanding CONCACAF as an organization, freezing of accounts and/or forfeiture of CONCACAF assets; U.S government imposing a Monitor to closely regulate CONCACAF compliance with anti-corruption laws for up to five years or more,"

In case they missed the point, they then received a message from the President of ScotiaBank, the source of what is currently CONCACAF's only major sponsorship deal - a four year agreement for roughly $20 million.

ScotiaBank pointed out to everyone that the contract contains a “reputation clause” allowing them to walk away if they feel the association casts them in a negative light, and according to John Doig, their chief marketing officer, they "will not hesitate to do so" if changes aren't made. Quickly.

CONCACAF will hold a meeting in Zurich on Thursday, one day before the FIFA election. 31 out of 41 votes (ie. 75%) are needed to pass the changes.

The results are in question. Most of the Caribbean federations like getting huge amounts of money they don't have to account for and hate the idea of being forced to change.

What they're being told, quite bluntly, is that they have no choice.

We'll know on Thursday if they got the message.