MIAMI - FIFA on Thursday extended Lisle
Austin's suspension by CONCACAF to a worldwide ban but the
Barbadian official said he was the genuine head of the body and
had been the victim of a power grab.
Austin was provisionally barred by CONCACAF last week having
been in charge of the organisation for just four days following
the suspension of the body's long-standing president Jack
Warner, who is facing corruption allegations.
While Warner was suspended by FIFA after allegations of
bribery and pending further investigations by its ethics
committee, no such charges have been made against Austin.
CONCACAF has declined to explain the detailed reason for
Austin's removal, official documents referring only to an
"apparent infringement" of statutes.
"We can confirm that FIFA has today notified CONCACAF that
the FIFA disciplinary committee has extended the provisional
suspension of Lisle Austin at a worldwide level," FIFA said in
an email to Reuters.
The decision bars Austin, for the time being, from taking
part in any football activities or forums internationally.
FIFA would not explain the reasons for the decision, saying
CONCACAF was the body that made the initial ban.
The suspension of Austin was announced by "the majority of
the (CONCACAF) executive committee" and signed by four members
including U.S Soccer president Sunil Gulati and Mexican football chief Justino Compean.
Honduran Alfredo Hawit has been put in temporary charge of
the confederation, which governs football in North and Central
America and the Caribbean.
In the short time before he was suspended, Austin tried to
fire CONCACAF's general secretary Chuck Blazer and announced he
was conducting a 'forensic audit' of the body's accounts over
the past five years.
Austin also said that he had tried to revoke Blazer's
signing authority over the bank accounts of CONCACAF.
Blazer declined to discuss the reasons for Austin's
suspension when asked at a news conference in Dallas on Sunday
but had previously rejected Austin's right to fire him.
The letter informing Austin of his suspension was signed by
Chicago-based lawyer John Collins, who was not immediately
available for comment.
Austin's spokesman, Ryan Toohey, said the official yet to be
informed by FIFA of the decision.
"Mr Austin has not been notified of any action by FIFA
regarding any suspension. There is no existing suspension so
there is nothing to extend," he told Reuters.
Austin believes that FIFA need to act to deal with the
internal dispute over who is currently in charge of CONCACAF.
"Lisle Austin remains acting president of CONCACAF and has
urged FIFA to intervene and resolve these so-called leadership
questions," Toohey said.
In a statement released before the announcement from FIFA,
Austin said he was the victim of a power grab in CONCACAF.
"These actions and additional statements questioning my
leadership are being engineered by a faction of CONCACAF
attempting to unlawfully seize control," he said.
"The actions and statements of these persons are beyond
their authority and are neither the actions of, nor binding
upon, CONCACAF. As acting president I will take all appropriate
steps to remedy these actions," said Austin.
"The organization is under attack from within by those who
refuse to respect the statutes of CONCACAF and have no regard
for the rights and interests of the members at large.
"I will not stand idly by while this happens and hope,
through FIFA intervention or other means, to restore order to
CONCACAF as soon as possible."
The dispute comes as CONCACAF is staging its showpiece
event, the Gold Cup, in the United States.
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