Jeffrey Webb’s re-election as president of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) was confirmed on Thursday as members rallied behind Sepp Blatter to continue as head of Fifa.
Webb continuing in his role was a formality after Concacaf last month said he would stand unopposed for the 2015 to 2019 period at yesterday’s Congress in the Bahamas. Cayman Islander Webb took over the helm at Concacaf in May 2012 in the wake of a turbulent period for the organisation under the leadership of former president Jack Warner and ex-general secretary Chuck Blazer.
Following his re-election, Webb said: “Concacaf is – more than ever – united by one vision. We represent our region on the global stage with one strong and cohesive voice. The invisible barriers that have hampered the region’s progress for decades are diminishing, and we are seeing unprecedented levels of success both on and off the pitch.”
The Fifa Executive Committee post for the Central American region was the only contested position for election at the Congress, with incumbent, Guatemala’s Rafael Salguero, challenged by Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li. The challenge proved successful with Sonia Bien-Aime also elected to occupy the newly created position of female member on the Concacaf Executive Committee. Webb’s re-election means he will also continue as a Fifa vice-president for the next four years.
The Concacaf Congress set the stage for the latest developments in the race for the Fifa presidency. Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term in office to extend a tenure that began in 1998, received pledges of support from 10 federations. The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association praised the Swiss as the “father of football” while the president of the Dominican Republic’s federation, Osiris Guzman, compared the 79-year-old to Jesus Christ, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela. “I think Concacaf membership is sending a clear message that we continue to support president Blatter,” Webb, who has been linked to a future run for the Fifa presidency, said.
The Concacaf backing comes just days after Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou maintained that CAF’s 54 members will stand behind Blatter’s re-election campaign. In his address to Concacaf delegates, Blatter made a point of stating that the Concacaf region should receive a fourth spot at the 2018 World Cup.
All three candidates running against Blatter – Dutch Football Association (KNVB) president Michael van Praag, Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and former Portugal international Luis Figo – were in attendance in the Bahamas meeting delegates privately, as they have been doing in other continental confederation meetings.
“We knew in advance there was support for Mr Blatter in this region,” Van Praag told the Reuters news agency, in reference to 10 Caribbean and Central American federations speaking in support of Blatter. “But I know from my meetings that there also countries in Concacaf that want a change, they are sure of that and they are not going to vote for Mr Blatter.”
Van Praag added: “I was in Africa at their congress in Cairo last week and there are delegates from African countries who also want a change now and who read the various programmes of Prince Ali, Luis Figo and myself. They keep their cards close to their chest and they don’t want to disclose to others what they are going to do. The Fifa congress has a secret ballot, so there can be surprises.”