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Volume 10 No. 25

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Former CONCACAF leaders Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer were slammed as "fraudulent in their management" of the football confederation's affairs by the head of the regional body's Integrity Committee on Friday, according to Simon Evans of REUTERS. CONCACAF Integrity Committee Head David Simmons presented CONCACAF's congress with a detailed report into allegations of financial mismanagement by former President Warner and ex-General Secretary Blazer "based on documents and interviews with 38 people." Former Barbados Chief Justice Simmons said, "I have recounted a sad and sorry tale in the life of CONCACAF, a tale of abuse of position and power, by persons who assisted in bringing the organization to profitability but who enriched themselves at the expense of their very own organizations." The report found that Warner, 70, did not disclose to CONCACAF or FIFA that a $25.9M Center of Excellence "was built on land owned by his companies" (REUTERS, 4/20). In a separate article, Evans wrote CONCACAF hopes the publication of a report citing "fraudulent" activities by its former leadership will mark the turning of a new page for the football body. New CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb said, "The membership was prepared and expected a very damning report but to say that we were expecting this, no. For us, we were shocked and dismayed." The report detailed how American Blazer had used the organization's funds to "finance his personal lifestyle," including purchasing plush apartments in Miami's South Beach and attempting to do the same in the Bahamas. Webb said that "it should be remembered that the cash was supposed to help federations in poor and developing countries in the Caribbean and Central America." Webb: "I see players on a daily basis, kids who can't afford shoes, who can't afford even the basic necessities to play football. We just came from Haiti where football provides an opportunity for those kids. It affected me greatly to know that we have wasted so much" (REUTERS, 4/21). In another article, Evans reported Blazer remains on the FIFA exec committee until the end of the governing body's congress on May 30 "when he will be replaced by newly elected compatriot Sunil Gulati." Members of CONCACAF "urged action at their congress on Friday to get Blazer out of the game earlier" (REUTERS, 4/20).

Talks "are being held to try to save the Heineken Cup," as English and French clubs "draw up their alternatives," according to Paul Rees of the London GUARDIAN. Some English and French clubs "served notice last June that they would be pulling out of the tournament when the current accord ends in May '14." Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cup organizers European Rugby Cup Ltd. organized three stakeholder meetings this season, "but little progress was made, with the English and French clubs arguing for wholesale change to the way the competitions are run." The clubs "want the number of teams in the Heineken Cup to be cut from 24 to 20," with another 20 competing in the Amlin; qualification from all three leagues involved -- the Premiership, Top 14 and Pro 12 -- to be based on finishing positions; the tournaments to be run through an equal partnership of unions and participating teams; and, something the English clubs say is non-negotiable, a new television partner. ERC "has not scheduled a meeting to discuss a new accord, but officials from the unions involved have had meetings with each other and the clubs, in what one called shuttle diplomacy, Henry Kissinger-style." Officials said, "Time is running out, and there is an increasing acknowledgement that this is about not tinkering with one or two regulations, but a shakeup that will effectively mean a new competition. If we do not sort it out, there will be no Heineken Cup after next season." TV "will be the biggest obstacle, with ERC having negotiated a contract extension with Sky" -- a deal the English and French clubs maintain "has no legal basis because they had already served notice to pull out when it was agreed" -- and the Premiership clubs committed to providing a cross-border element for BT Vision next season (GUARDIAN, 4/20).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave his strongest hint yet that he may stay on for another four-year term as president beyond '15, and said that the scale of reform facing FIFA "needed time," according to Simon Evans of REUTERS. Blatter, 77, has indicated in the past he would not stand for a fifth consecutive term in two years' time, but said on Friday that he would not "abandon this boat" before he was sure FIFA was in the right shape. After attending CONCACAF's congress Blatter said, "We are not over with our reform because we have a first part, we have all the dangers that are in football like match-fixing and so on but we also have to have a look at the political organization of FIFA." Asked directly if he wanted to be sure of global balances being in place before he would move on, Blatter said, "Absolutely, but it will take more time than just to go to the congress and say 'applaud'" (REUTERS, 4/20).