CONCACAF FINANCES LAID BARE
The full stunning picture of financial malpractice involving former football leaders in the Caribbean and north and central America emerged today.
A £15million centre of excellence in Trinidad funded by development cash secretly ended up in the ownership of disgraced former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
The USA-based CONCACAF federation covering 40 countries also faces financial penalties after not making tax returns for a number of years, their legal adviser confirmed to a their annual congress taking place in Budapest.
Meanwhile, former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, the whistleblower who blew the lid on bribes last year, has himself been accused of overseeing financial irregularities and is suing the confederation for commissions - running into million of dollars - he says he is owed on TV and sponsorship contracts.
The revelations sparked fury from delegates - many of whom from Caribbean countries ended up being sanctioned by FIFA's ethics committee in the fall-out from the bribery scandal which saw Warner resign and Asian FIFA member Mohamed Bin Hammam banned for life.
CONCACAF's lawyer John Collins told the congress he had instructed lawyers in England and Trinidad to investigate the ownership of the Joao Havelange centre of excellence, built at a cost of 22.5m US dollars.
Collins said: "I received their report yesterday and it appears the centre of excellence was put in the name of two corporations owned by Mr Warner and his family.
"In 2007 a mortgage was placed on the property in the name of CONCACAF signed by Mr Warner and [ex-CONCACAF vice-president] Mr Lisle Austin without getting our approval."
Collins said CONCACAF should now take legal action to recover the centre from Warner.
In relation to the tax irregularities, Collins said no returns had been filed since at least 2007 and maybe before then. Blazer's contract with CONCACAF saw his paid commissions of 10% on all media and sponsorship deals to be paid to an offshore company of his called Sportvertising, based in the Cayman Islands.
Collins said that Blazer was preparing legal action to claim outstanding commission payments.
Delegates lined up to denounce Blazer and there was overwhelming support from FIFA Congress on Friday to remove him as a FIFA executive committee member.
Cuba federation president Luis Hernandez told newly-elected CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb: "You are sitting on a timebomb. In all our countries corruption and shady use of resources has a clear name: robbery and theft.
"There are robbers with guns and there are robbers with white collars - and I don't want us to be represented by a thief with a white collar in FIFA."
Pedro Chaluja, president of the Panama FA, added: "We can't have a person represent us on the executive committee of FIFA when this person has made us part of the shady business. It's unpardonable."
Justino Compean, the head of Mexican football, accused Blazer of "manipulating information" and "obscene irregularities".
Webb described his reaction to the revelations as one of "shock, dismay, upset".
He said the cost of renting CONCACAF's offices in New York's Trump Tower, around a million US dollars a year, would be reviewed.
Blazer said no tax returns had been declared in the USA because CONCACAF was a non-profit organisation, and no profits had been made in the US.
He also defended his record in charge of CONCACAF.
Blazer said in an interview: "I spent 21 years building the confederation and its competitions and its revenues and I'm the one responsible for its good levels of income. I'm perfectly satisfied that I did an excellent job.
"I think this is a reflection of those who were angry at me having caused the action against Warner.
"This is also a reaction by people who have their own agenda, such as Mr Compean from Mexico and others from central America who wish to advantage themselves.
"I have serious concerns about this and I hope Jeff can control that.
"I now have to consider what my options are but to say the least I am very disappointed."
Blazer said he was "not yet in litigation" to retrieve the payments he was owed but confirmed his contract had included 10% of all CONCACAF's TV and sponsorship deals. The commissions and salary for Blazer totalled between 4million and 5million USA dollars last year, the meeting was told.
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