CONCACAF suspends its acting president

CONCACAF has suspended acting president Lisle Austin for alleged

rule violations, drawing an angry response from Austin who claimed

on Saturday the action was ”illegal.”

Austin took control of the federation representing North and

Central America and the Caribbean after longtime leader Jack Warner

was suspended on Sunday by world football’s governing body over

bribery allegations along with fellow FIFA executive committee

member Mohamed bin Hammam.

The corruption claims were reported to FIFA by CONCACAF

secretary general Chuck Blazer, who Austin tried to remove from the

position in retaliation for turning on Warner.

CONCACAF’s executive committee quickly rejected Austin’s move,

ruling that he lacked the power to fire Blazer.

”Lisle Austin has been provisionally banned from all football

activities within CONCACAF and at the national level by a majority

of the CONCACAF Executive Committee members for apparent

infringement of the CONCACAF statutes,” the New York-based

governing body said in a statement. ”Notice of this suspension is

being sent to FIFA to be extended worldwide.”

CONCACAF is also asking FIFA to extend Austin’s suspension to

football duties worldwide until his full hearing July 13.

Vice president Alfredo Hawit has been appointed CONCACAF’s

acting president.

”We are clearly passing through a difficult time,” Hawit said

in a statement released by CONCACAF. ”However, I steadfastly

believe that CONCACAF will overcome these challenges and reach even

greater heights.”

However, Austin claimed that anyone dealing with the Honduran

would be ”implicating themselves into illegal activities.”

A statement from Austin’s office in the Caribbean insisted that

the actions taken in New York and announced by the official

CONCACAF media department were ”illegal” and contravene several

rules.

It said only Austin has the power to chair meetings of the

executive committee.

”It necessarily follows that if the president did not convene

or did not chair any meeting of the executive committee that any

actions taken or decisions reached at said meeting are not only

unenforceable but are ultra vires (invalid),” the statement

said.

Austin said his CONCACAF colleagues denied him a hearing to

defend himself.

”Mr. Austin is both shocked and disheartened that the online

publications of the Confederation are once again being employed to

wage a war against the Office of the acting president, a war in

which only the Confederation and its members will continue to

suffer,” the statement from the Barbados-native’s office said.

The provisional ban applies to Austin’s activities with CONCACAF

and in his native Barbados.

Before his suspension, Austin tried to sever CONCACAF’s

relationship with John P. Collins, a former federal prosecutor who

investigated Blazer’s allegations and prepared the report for FIFA.

Collins represents CONCACAF, and also sits on FIFA’s legal

committee.

Collins’ signature is on the notice of Austin’s suspension.

The announcement comes one day before the start of the Gold Cup,

CONCACAF’s premier event. The tournament is being played in 13

cities across the United States, and the winner will earn a spot in

the 2013 Confederations Cup.

Warner and bin Hammam were suspended by FIFA after Blazer

accused them of offering Caribbean officials $40,000 each in

exchange for their votes in last Wednesday’s presidential election.

Bin Hammam had been the only challenger to Sepp Blatter, who was

elected unopposed to a fourth term.

AP Sports Writers Rob Harris in London and Graham Dunbar in

Geneva contributed to this report.