CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said the healing of the confederation in the wake of the ugly cash-for-vote scandal is progressing apace.
“I think we are well on our way, I think definitely the worst is behind us and I believe that we have created a transparency and a clarity that our region and the membership needed so badly. I believe that we are poised for greatness in the future,” he said.
Two years ago, following a visit of then FIFA presidential candidate Qatari Mohammed Bin Hammam to Trinidad and Tobago, where he sought to win Caribbean support for his bid to unseat the incumbent Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, a scandal broke out of alleged vote-buying that crippled regional football and cast a dark shadow also over CONCACAF and the global body.
So damaging were the claims that it had high-profiled casualties, including the resignation of then CONCACAF and CFU president Austin “Jack” Warner and varying sanctions against other Caribbean football officials.
Bin Hammam was later banned for life from football.
The inferno that swept through football after the scandal was so devastating that FIFA has spent the time since repairing the image of the game, while CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union have implemented sweeping safeguards and oversight mechanisms to prevent a repeat.
“We have recognised that with what we have been through we have to rebuild our image and credibility, also our branding of Caribbean football as every members association has been affected by what transpired over the past two years, so we have launched a marketing and rebranding campaign so that national associations can reposition and re-invent themselves back into the fold of Caribbean football,” said Webb, who was elevated unopposed to lead CONCACAF in the wake of the scandal and the departure of the long-serving Warner.
Both CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union, in trying to achieve transparency and good governance, have set numerous committees for better management of the organisation.
In another instance of image cleansing, Webb received resounding applause from the CONCACAF membership and was hailed by Blatter himself for his bravery in ordering an investigation into the operations of the Warner-led CONCACAF, which resulted in a damning Sir David Simmonds Integrity Committee report.
Warner and his general secretary Chuck Blazer are accused of acting improperly in executing their offices, according to the report presented by Simmonds at a CONCACAF Congress in Panama in April. Warner publicly denied the allegations against him.
CONCACAF, as part of its rebuilding process, has instituted more than 20 committees and other working groups as it looks to sustained transparent leadership.
Jamaica’s captain Horace Burrell chairs three of those committees, including the Finance Committee. Another Jamaican, accountant Leighton McKnight, is in charge of the Audit and Compliance Committee. Webb said the appointment of the Jamaicans was influenced by their vast experience and qualifications.
“Obviously Jamaica is a member of the confederation and has great depth and great knowledge. Also, I believe that we have some excellently qualified individuals in the region, who want to serve the game and who are passionate about the game and who want to ensure that football is headed in the right direction,” said Webb, who recently added to his portfolio the chairmanship of the crucial FIFA Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force.
Another Jamaican holding a key job at CONCACAF is former Jamaica Football Federation general secretary Horace Reid who is the Director of Competitions.
As well as senior men’s football, youth and women’s programmes are being boosted by Webb too. In fact, the inaugural boys Under-15 CONCACAF tournament will be held in Cayman in August and the women’s CONCACAF U-20 tournament will run here in January 2014, too.