Part II: Bill Archer Weighs In

Posted on February 23, 2012 8:58 pm

No discussion of football in our region is complete without the input of my colleague Bill Archer. For longer than I have been a member of BigSoccer, he has diligently and thoroughly uncovered the political entrails of CONCACAF, exposing far more about how Jack Warner and co. ran things than the ex-President would have ever liked. So when I found the interviews with current interim President Alfredo Hawit, I knew I had to pass them on to him. Many thanks to Bill for the following commentary, which I faithfully reprint here without alteration.

——

It’s not likely that soccer officials from the Central and North American regions spent much time planning for life after Jack Warner.

Maybe once in a great while, after a few days of bowing, stooping and sucking up to His Royal Kleptomaniacness at a conclave someplace, a few of them would get together very late at night in a ridiculously overpriced luxury hotel suite and with dead soldiers and room service trays littering every available horizontal surface and after triple checking to make sure the door was locked, they’d grumble some things about what they’d do if “that old bastard” died in a fiery plane crash.

Mostly though, since it appeared that Warner fully intended to live forever and could count on 30 Caribbean votes every four years until hell froze over – after which he’d figure out a way to hand it all off to Uday and Qusay Daryan and Daryll, they likely figured there wasn’t much point in wasting time planning for a day which simply wasn’t ever coming.

Then one day Warner’s arrogance and sense of entitlement caught up with him, he mistake of his life and it all came crashing down. What’s more, every other Confederation official from the Caribbean basin fell – at least temporarily – with him.

When the 10 North and Central American federations got done singing Ding Dong the Witch is Dead and sobered up, they found themselves with a golden opportunity they never expected to get:

The chance to reconfigure CONCACAF into a relevant, globally significant vehicle instead of the football equivalent of a banana republic.

It’s been next to impossible, however, to discern what the powers-that-be at CONCACAF were planning despite – or possibly because – until quite recently the entire executive decision making structure consisted of only four guys, two each from North and Central America.

(“Captain” Horace Burrell’s recent release from footballing purgatory has now made him the fifth, which fortunately doesn’t change the equation much if at all, and Lyle Austin’s anticipated inclusion in June won’t materially affect the math either although it may require his installation as acting President, a title which carries no power the ExCo does not cede.)

As usual, Sunil Gulati has been a veritable sphinx, partly because it’s his nature – being largely uncommunicative is apparently a virtue in the eyes of the collection of time servers and turf protectors who cast ballots for President of the USSF – and partly because the USSF has a strict policy which prevents access by anyone not in the coterie of tame media pets (ie. “people who won’t ask serious questions”) who enjoy favor in the hallowed halls of Soccer House as dictated by the fed’s lazy, clueless and supine media operation led by the likes of Neil Buthe and the anti-American Michael Kammerman.

Conversely, some Mexican representatives, such as Jose Compeon, have said much and implied more and almost all of it appears aimed at garnering revenge for not being allowed to take their A team to a competition once.

Not ones to give “see it from both sides” a shot any more than “let bygones be bygones” or “agree to disagree” or “you can’t always get what you want” or “oh for Christ’s sake, give it a freakin’ rest why doncha?” are concepts they seem comfortable with, they’re also wildly annoyed that Warner and Blazer took all the really cool stuff that involves executive jets, five star hotels and lunch with Prince William for themselves when they considered all of those trappings their own personal property due to them being the preeminent football power in the Confederation, those uppity rich-ass American Uncle-Sam-come-latelys notwithstanding.

So we’re deeply indebted to Paul Calixte for unearthing and translating a couple of recent interviews given by acting CONCACAF President and flag-bearer Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, one to a Honduran broadcaster and one for an outlet in Mexico.

(Since the US soccer media’s interest is currently consumed by Alex Morgan’s ass we have no concurrent English version, even though the man is quite fluent in American.)

Since Paul has done all the heavy lifting here and my only role consists of bloviating, I hesitated to participate but he was kind enough to ask and I’m grateful for the opportunity because I think there’s some real groundbreaking stuff here.

The message that comes through, despite Hawitt’s gracious and diplomatic language, seems very clear to those who want to hear it, namely:

There’s a new sheriff in town.

In both interviews he makes a thinly veiled reference to the Warner era, saying that those days are over and will not be repeated, no matter how fervently some parties might wish it so.

Acknowledging the electoral reality that 30 Caribbean votes represents against 10 from the other two regions, he says that he has already proposed to FIFA that the Presidency of CONCACAF be rotated between the regions on a four year cycle, but that’s just the window dressing.

The biggest problem with CONCACAF is the huge disparity of interests. Most of the Caribbean is utterly dependent on monies generated by FIFA and the Confederation, through efforts like the Gold Cup, for most if not all of their operating funds.

(A cynic would add, “and their personal slush funds and perks” but you’ll find no such churlishness here. Not today, anyway.)

Hawitt goes to great lengths to point out – repeatedly – that those countries will continue to get theirs, but that the tail is not going to be allowed to wag the dog.

What’s more, if the larger, wealthier and more football-advanced federations are allowed to do the stuff they want to do, the pie will be bigger and their slice will be bigger as a result.

Significantly, Hawitt notes that when the ten non-CFU federations met in Panama late last Fall, “the first ones that supported me were the big ones”.

And there’s not much question who “the big ones” are. As he quotes FMF President Compean, “we bring the money. We bring the football. And them?”

All of this is in direct contrast with the words coming out of the Caribbean, from Jeffrey Webb and Captain Burrell. They’re urging a return to the old status quo, with the Caribbean region calling all the shots.

They both talk constantly about how the CFU feds “deserve” more money from CONCACAF and that they intend to get it.

Hawitt’s message is: “You’ll get it and more, but only if you allow us to earn it.”

And if you carefully read between the lines, it appears that not only does Mexico – which is the primary engine behind the movement, although the US and the rest of the continentals are apparently fully on board – mean to see fundamental change take place but that they’re not going to stand by and let the CFU stop it.

If they don’t like it, then maybe it’s time to cut the Caribbean loose, let them compete with Oceania for one World Cup slot and collect their $250,000 a year payoffs and their occasional goal grants and let the rest of the Confederation move on without them.

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