Costas Takkas: From amateur dramatics to the world stage

British auditor Costas Takkas was Jeffrey Webb’s right-hand man

Costas Takkas, the second man with links to the Cayman Islands arrested in the FIFA bribery probe, was an auditor who achieved brief fame for a failed scheme to get English and Scottish professional footballers to play for the Cayman Islands in World Cup qualifiers.

Takkas, a Londoner of Greek-Cypriot heritage, made world news in 2000 when he assembled a team of “footballing mercenaries”, using Cayman’s status as a British Overseas Territory to justify selecting British players in Cayman’s national squad. He outlined grand plans to reach the 2002 World Cup.

The scheme, which caused an uproar locally and was panned internationally, was rejected by FIFA at the last minute, and Cayman lost 4-0 to Cuba in the qualifier, with a few British pros watching from the stands.

Takkas lived in Cayman for nearly 20 years from the mid-1980s after coming to the island to work as an auditor. He was involved in amateur football and amateur dramatics, memorably playing the role of bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel in a 1991 dramatization of the British comedy classic “Fawlty Towers.”

He was an attacking midfielder for Sunset Football Club, though he was more often on the substitute’s bench. Takkas later became general secretary of the Cayman Islands Football Association.

During that time he forged a close-relationship with Jeffrey Webb, acting as his right-hand man.

When Webb was elected president of CONCACAF and vice president of the world governing body FIFA, he took Takkas with him as his assistant or “attaché.”

The pair have also worked together in another business venture.

Webb was a director, until May 2014, in Abakan Inc., a metal trading company, of which Takkas was chief financial officer until he was suspended from the role in the wake of his arrest in Zurich on May 27.

Robert Miller, CEO of the Florida-based firm, did not respond to questions from the Cayman Compass last week about Webb’s role with the organization.

Takkas is accused by U.S. prosecutors of being a middleman for Webb, negotiating bribes on his behalf and using his accounts in the Cayman Islands to funnel illegal payments to his boss.

The 56-year-old is said to have left Cayman, where he also worked in captive insurance management, around a decade ago, initially to move to Brazil, where he was involved in a business venture.

He returned to Cayman frequently to visit friends and for business meetings, and he was here last year for the CONCACAF Under-15 tournament.

Those who know him describe him as a very sociable, “wheeler-dealer” type with a high-pitched cockney accent.

Robert Jenkinson, the founder of Sunset FC, said, “He was a very social guy; everybody knew Costas. I am as surprised as everyone by what I am reading in the newspapers.

“I am not surprised that there is corruption in FIFA, but I am surprised that those individuals [Takkas and Webb] are said to be involved.”

Another former teammate, Paul Anderton, said Takkas left the island more than a decade ago but frequently returned on business, to visit friends and more recently for CONCACAF events.

Ivan Burges, who also played football with Takkas, remembers him as a “larger than life” character, who was well-known around the island. He said he last saw him on the sidelines at the CONCACAF Under-15 tournament last year.

Colin Wilson, of the Cayman Drama Society, said he directed Takkas in the production of “Fawlty Towers” as well as a 1986 production of “Alice in Wonderland.” “He played the March Hare. He was actually very good,” Mr. Wilson recalled.

No one from the Cayman Islands Football Association was willing to comment publicly about Takkas or his association with Mr. Webb.