CONCACAF executive says organization is working with DOJ
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) CONCACAF’s acting general secretary said the organization is cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department while it investigates allegations of corruption in FIFA.
U.S. authorities indicted nine soccer officials on corruption charges last week, including the current and past presidents of the regional governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean. Seven men were arrested by Swiss authorities at a luxury hotel in Zurich.
Ted Howard, who became the acting general secretary for CONCACAF on Thursday, said the organization continues to work with the U.S. government.
”(The Justice Department) told us in in their press conference the other day that they haven’t finished their investigation yet,” Howard said Monday night at a drawing announcing the teams participating in a club tournament later this year. ”Like everyone, all of us (are) disappointed and shocked that this could happen again after four years ago.”
CONCACAF announced the appointments of Howard and acting president Alfredo Hawit of Honduras on Thursday, one day after CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb was arrested and indicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud.
Webb, who is from the Cayman Islands, was elected president in May 2012. CONCACAF said Webb and Eduardo Li, the president of Costa Rican soccer’s governing body, had been ”provisionally dismissed.” Li, who had been elected to fill one of CONCACAF’s seats on FIFA’s executive committee, also was indicted and arrested.
CONCACAF has had a string of leaders in recent years. Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago held the position from 1990 until May 29, 2011, when he was suspended by FIFA during a bribery investigation.
Lisle Austin of Barbados became acting president but was suspended by CONCACAF’s executive committee that June 2 after he tried to fire Chuck Blazer, the confederation’s American general secretary.
Hawit served as acting president until Webb was elected the following May 23. Howard served as acting general secretary between Blazer’s resignation at the end of 2011 and the hiring of Colombian-born Enrique Sanz on July 25, 2012.
CONCACAF said Sanz had been placed on a leave of absence. An unidentified co-conspirator listed in the indictment fits the description of Sanz’ work history.
”We just know that we have to continue and move on,” Howard said. ”We have major tournaments. We have 41 member associations that we’re responsible for. So our job right now is that we’re focused on doing the right thing for the sport.”
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, Mexican Soccer Federation President Justino Compean and Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani have been appointed to a special committee that CONCACAF said was ”charged with the duties of evaluating and sustaining all of the business operations of the confederation in the wake of the indictments brought against certain members of FIFA and CONCACAF.”
”We hope everyone recognizes we’re taking positive steps,” Howard said. ”We’re going to show you by our actions not by telling you and pounding our chests.”