Blatter, Caribbean leaders set for reconciliation
Zurich: FIFA President Sepp Blatter has invited Caribbean football leaders to Zurich next month to help rebuild relations after the region’s reputation was wrecked by a bribery scandal sparked by their own colleagues.
Caribbean football has seen its top three elected officials—Jack Warner, Lisle Austin and Horace Burrell—either resign while under investigation or be banned by FIFA since the corruption case emerged in May.
FIFA has banned 11 Caribbean officials for up to 26 months, reprimanded five more and warned six after allegations they were involved in USD 40,000 cash bribes being offered by former presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam.
Six officials including Warner, the former FIFA vice president and Caribbean Football Union president, evaded justice by resigning all of their football positions.
The explosive scandal began when officials from four Caribbean islands turned whistleblower to alert FIFA to alleged corruption.
FIFA said Tuesday that Blatter will host the Caribbean delegation on Dec. 20-21 to “help the member associations to get back on track.”
“The CFU presidents will be invited … for an informal meeting with the FIFA president aimed at sorting out the issues and try to reconcile them,” FIFA said in a statement.
The reconciliation talks are likely to happen before the 30-nation CFU bloc can elect a new leader to replace Warner, who retained his position as a Trinidad and Tobago government minister.
The poll winner will be a strong contender to replace Warner on the 24-man FIFA executive committee as the Caribbean delegate representing the CONCACAF regional body.
Burrell, from Jamaica, hoped to be a candidate but is banned by FIFA through Jan. 13.
Austin, a longtime Warner ally from Barbados, was prevented from succeeding his mentor when FIFA banned him for one year. Austin broke football rules by using a civil court in the Bahamas to pursue a dispute with CONCACAF arising from the bin Hammam scandal.