Cayman president’s office still open
Suspended regional football president Alfredo Hawit has agreed to be extradited to the U.S. in connection with U.S. federal charges of racketeering and bribery filed against him last year in the FIFA corruption scandal.
Hawit, who replaced Cayman’s Jeffrey Webb as the CONCACAF region president following Webb’s arrest in the U.S. probe in May 2015, is the third consecutive president of the Caribbean, North and Central American football association to have been charged in the FIFA investigation. He was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland on Dec. 3, along with his South American counterpart Juan Angel Napout.
A Swiss Federal Office of Justice statement, issued Wednesday, noted that Hawit, of Honduras, was charged with accepting bribes totaling millions in exchange for the sale of commercial rights to various football tournaments to certain sports marketing companies.
Swiss authorities said Hawit had initially contested his extradition, but later agreed to it in a hearing on Wednesday.
Following Hawit’s arrest, CONCACAF announced that it would not nominate any interim presidents to replace him until a full internal election for the regional football governing body was held in May.
Webb and Jack Warner of Trinidad were also charged in the FIFA investigation last year. Webb, 51, pleaded guilty to seven counts in the federal indictment against him and faces sentencing in the U.S. in June. Warner has vowed to contest extradition to the U.S. from his native country. Webb succeeded Warner as CONCACAF chief in 2012.
In December, U.S. prosecutors sent a warning to FIFA’s leadership, urging those left at the embattled world football organization not to attempt to seize power following the latest round of indictments.
“If you are involved in or have the desire to partake, now is not the time to hold on to power or seek to gain power,” said Robert Capers, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York State. “Now is the time to step away and make room for a new generation of leaders who we hope will give soccer and its millions of fans the leadership they richly deserve.”
As of Wednesday, the office of the CONCACAF president – established under Webb’s presidency in downtown George Town, Grand Cayman – was still operating with some employees reporting to work.
The Cayman Compass asked CONCACAF representatives in Miami last year whether the Cayman office would remain open given Webb’s indictment. The organization stated that it would “continue evaluating business operations throughout the region over the long term.”
The decision not to name a full-time president until elections are held was announced in December.
However, a lawsuit filed in late December by a former CONCACAF employee reveals that at least three employees at the president’s office were dismissed in the wake of Webb’s arrest.
Also, in November, former CONCACAF Director of Sports Integrity Laila Mintas, who had been based in the Cayman Islands, departed from the organization. Ms. Mintas did not respond to Compass requests seeking comment either prior to or following her departure.
The CONCACAF offices at the Admiral Financial Center in George Town have a lease in the building through December 2017.