By Shaun Fuentes
The man who is acting as President of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) in light of the suspension and subsequent resignation of Jack Austin Warner from all FIFA positions – Jamaican Captain Horace Burrell, is calling on his members to remain united as an organization.
Burrell, who is also the President of the Jamaica Football Federation, made the call on Thursday.
“I’m calling on the CFU family to remain a united body as it goes to work in repairing its damaged imagine in the face of the ugly bribe-rigging allegation and ongoing investigation that have had a ripple effect throughout the global game. Let me also urge the membership to stick with its fundamental vision of the holistic development of football in the region,” Burrell stated.
Last month it was reported that officials from Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands had declined the payments of $40,000 while Puerto Rico and Surinam later agreed to return their $40,000 alleged to be part of handouts during a meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain during Mohamed bin Hammam’s visit to the island in May.
Burrell also expressed deep regret over Warner’s resignation, saying :”I am indeed saddened by the departure of Mr Warner, who has given football so much, both at the regional, confederation and international levels. I don’t believe there is another, who can truly fill the void that he will leave in his wake.
“ It was Warner’s tireless work in the vineyard that guaranteed the growth of Caribbean football. We hope that as this outstanding Caribbean man leaves the field of play of a sport that I know he loves dearly, that he will be remembered firstly for his advocacy for the small footballing nations of the Caribbean and indeed his revolutionary thinking that has seen the fast expansion of CONCACAF into a respectable confederation.
“The resignation of Jack Warner from FIFA, CONCACAF and CFU has come at a most difficult time for world football but more specifically the Caribbean. Jack Warner, a founding member of the Caribbean Football Union has served football with great distinction. It is through his inspired leadership that the Caribbean has emerged as a force to be contented in CONCACAF,” Burrell added.
Another Caribbean football boss, Colin Klass, Vice President of the CFU and Guyana Football Federation, also commented, describing Warner as a “a man who has selflessly served this sport and this region, has opted on his own volition to say goodbye and walk away from football.”
“We cannot afford the confusion which has plagued the Union for the past month to cast a shadow of doubt on the legacy of this football stalwart. We implore you to keep your eyes steadfast on the football vision that was collaboratively developed more than 30 years ago. This is the time for us to allow the potency of time protect the legacy and the memories of magnanimous contributions this man has made to the regional sporting landscape,” Klass added.
Meantime, Embattled Concacaf executive Lisle Austin is expected to challenge FIFA’s assertion that he is no longer recognized as acting president of the continental governing body. Austin was recently suspended for an “apparent infringement of the Concacaf statutes” after taking over from Warner during his suspension. FIFA subsequently extended Austin’s ban to worldwide. Honduran Alfredo Hawit was appointed the new acting Concacaf president but Austin claimed his ousting was “illegal” and gained an injunction in the Bahamas Supreme Court on June 10 to overturn the decision.
In a letter sent to Concacaf members and the executive committee on the same day, however, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke confirmed Hawit as the rightful head of the organization. Valcke also reminded members of Concacaf’s own rules which forbid the use of “ordinary courts” to resolve disputes. Aggrieved parties in FIFA are expected to seek recourse through the governing body or the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Austin is expected to argue that with Concacaf registered in the Bahamas, any organization under that jurisdiction would have to comply with the laws of the land.