(CNS): The executive committee of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) has submitted a package of reforms and amendments to its members ahead of the extraordinary congress next month, when they will vote on the new clean-up package. Meanwhile, Bruce Blake, the president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, is facing criticisms over the failure to reform CIFA as it continues to reel from the FIFA scandal and the significant involvement of former CIFA president Jeff Webb in the corruption.
Question marks remain over Blake’s leadership following last year’s controversies surrounding the nomination process at the annual elections as well as questions raised by auditors about CIFA’s books. Blake is also in the firing line over the latest revelations about how cash from FIFA for a new pitch was handled.
During the current trial of Canover Watson evidence has emerged that CIFA funds were embroiled in the alleged hospital corruption case and may have been used by the disgraced former CONCACAF and CIFA president, Jeffrey Webb, to fund his home in Atlanta, where he currently remains under house arrest. Blake, who claims to know nothing about this revelation, recently told the local press he would be working with FIFA to determine the credibility of the claims.
The jury heard that a $250,000 payment was made from CIFA to Black Holdings, a company owned by Peter Campbell, another local football official, which had secured the contract to build the new football pitch funded by FIFA. The cash was then paid into an AIS Cayman Ltd Fidelity bank account controlled by Webb. Watson said that money then went to an account in the US, which his friend and business partner used to buy the Atlanta mansion.
Because of the mounting issues surrounding CIFA, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden has again called for a thorough independent investigation into the sport association’s dealings over the last fifteen years and for the entire current executive to step down and start with a clean slate of new officials. Last year Bodden pulled the government funding from the association until its house was in order.
Against the backdrop of controversies at home, with more FIFA-related controversies expected on the world stage, Blake will be joining the remaining officials from CONCACAF that are still in post at its congress next month. They will vote on the reforms, which are based on recommendations made by the FIFA reform committee and the CONCACAF reform framework, approved by what was left of the executive committee last summer.
CONCACAF officials said the aim was to separate politics from the business and administration of the game and align the Confederation’s governance and business operations with corporate best practices.
Among the reforms will be the establishment of a council to replace the current executive committee, which will consist of up to fifteen members from each of CONCACAF’s three geographic unions, with a possible requirement for three members to be independent. All candidates for the council, the president, members of committees, judicial bodies and all senior officials will have to undergo eligibility checks to be conducted by an independent ethics committee and there will be a 12-year term limit for members.
Under the proposed reforms there will be reviews of compensation paid to officials and the right to audit any member association receiving cash from CONCACAF. A “pre-approved” vendor system will be implemented for all contracts with CONCACAF, with credit and background checks for all vendors, as well as a new process for negotiating and approving contracts, including those for sponsorship or marketing. Conflict-of-interest checks are expected to improve transparency and accountability.
The adoption of new protocols will ensure that no single employee of CONCACAF has final say contracts. Other new measures proposed include the implementation of standard policies to manage and control cash inflows and outflows, and a Partner Code of Conduct to govern. There will also be a comprehensive request for proposals process and independent consultants to oversee the bidding for commercial rights.
CONCACAF said reforms to the statutes are intended to bolster the operational changes that have already been implemented.