MIAMI (Reuters) - The Caribbean has been at the epicenter of the corruption scandal that has rocked FIFA, but the head of the region’s soccer body said there is no reason why another of their officials could not be the next head of region’s troubled confederation, CONCACAF.
Gordon Derrick, president of the Caribbean Football Union, which represents 31 of the countries within the 41 member CONCACAF, said it would be unfair to stigmatize the entire region as a result of the scandal.
CONCACAF, which administers the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is one of six regional bodies that make up FIFA, but its last two presidents have both been indicted by U.S. investigators.
Jack Warner headed CONCACAF for 21 years, until he quit in 2011 amidst “cash for votes” allegations. Warner, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, faces a series of charges, including racketeering and bribery offences and is currently fighting an attempt by the U.S. to extradite him from Trinidad and Tobago where he is based.
His successor, Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands, was arrested last month in Switzerland and has agreed to be extradited to the United States to face similar charges.
”I don’t think there is a black eye on the Caribbean per se, or that because these two (cases) happened back to back and therefore no-one else can do it. I think that would be unfair,” Derrick told Reuters in a telephone interview from Boston.
“Yes the confidence (in the Caribbean) will be down, but we are a proud people from a proud area, who have ability; who can govern and who are intelligent. So if someone from the Caribbean steps up, they will step up and do well,” he said.
In the absence of the suspended Webb, Alfredo Hawit of Honduras was named interim president of CONCACAF until an election can be held at its next congress.
Derrick declined to discuss whether he will stand in that election.
The Antiguan said that those critical of the Caribbean should not generalize and offered a reminder that one of the key figures in the FIFA scandal, is CONCACAF’s former general secretary Chuck Blazer, who is American.
“Not everybody in the Caribbean is tainted. If you look at this scandal, you look at who the big player is and what country did he come from?
“It is not just the Caribbean, it is throughout. Regardless of where you are … there are people who are not on the straight and narrow, that doesn’t mean everybody in that country is the same way,” he said.
Derrick himself was reprimanded and handed a fine of 300 Swiss francs following a FIFA probe into a 2011 meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where Warner was alleged to have distributed cash to Caribbean officials on behalf of Qatari Mohammed Bin Hammam, who was seeking their votes as he stood against incumbent Sepp Blatter in the election for FIFA president.
The CFU president denied any wrongdoing and said the small nature of the fine meant FIFA would not accept an appeal against the ruling which, he believes, would have cleared his name.
Reporting By Simon Evans; Editing by Martin Howell