MIAMI - Deep divisions in CONCACAF became
an open split on Tuesday when the confederation's acting
president tried to fire general secretary and whistleblower
Chuck Blazer in the wake of corruption allegations that have
rocked world football.
In a letter to Blazer, Lisle Austin, appointed interim
president in place of the suspended Jack Warner,
said the American was "terminated as general secretary of
CONCACAF with immediate effect."
Austin said he considered Blazer had "grossly insulted and
defamed" Caribbean associations by stating "that each member
association was under investigation for bribery."
Blazer swiftly responded with a statement issued by
CONCACAF's media office in New York that said the move was
"unauthorised" and that the American remained in office.
The power struggle in CONCACAF, which governs football in
North and Central America and the Caribbean, has underscored the
crisis engulfing FIFA, whose delegates were set to re-elect
incumbent president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday, despite global
pressure to postpone the election.
Blazer was the whistle-blower who made allegations of
corruption against Caribbean football federations, which led to
the suspension of long-standing CONCACAF president Warner, a
Last week he produced a report to FIFA that alleged bribes
had been paid by Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam during a meeting with
Caribbean federations in Port of Spain earlier this month.
Asian football chief Bin Hammam was at that time a candidate
against incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He has since
withdrawn and also been provisionally suspended by FIFA's Ethics Committee pending an inquiry.
Blazer is a member of FIFA's Executive Committee and is
considered close to president Sepp Blatter.
Barbadian Austin, however, has been viewed as a close
Caribbean ally of Trinidadian Warner and the letter was
distributed by a media official in Port of Spain, capital of
Trinidad and Tobago.
Earlier Tuesday, Blazer had reported Warner to FIFA, saying
that he had breached the terms of his suspension which bars him
from "football activities," resulting in a strong retaliation
from the Trinidadian's camp.
The acting president Austin wrote that Blazer had
"improperly appointed five non-elected members of CONCACAF to
He also reiterated a complaint he made earlier that
Blazer had no authority to hire Chicago-based lawyers Collins
and Collins to collect information for the report which led to
the suspension of Warner.
"The above conduct is inexcusable and a gross misconduct of
duty and judgement. It is apparent that you are no longer fit to
act as secretary general of CONCACAF and to represent its
members," the letter concluded.
The subsequent CONCACAF statement said that Austin had no
power to sack Blazer.
"Under the CONCACAF Statutes, jurisdiction over the General
Secretary rests solely with the CONCACAF Executive Committee
which has taken no action.
"Further a majority of the Executive Committee Members have
advised Mr. Austin that he does not have the authority to take
"Chuck Blazer continues as CONCACAF General Secretary and
with the full authority of his office. The Confederation
continues its normal operations."
The power struggle appeared set to rage on.
Austin later issued a second statement - also citing the
organisation's statutes - that insisted Blazer's termination
was legal and in effect.
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