Caribbean opens talks on CONCACAF breakaway

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By Paul Nicholson

January 23 – FIFA could be facing the request for the formation of a seventh confederation after an executive committee meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) in Miami at the weekend agreed to explore the prospects for a breakaway of the 31 Caribbean nations from the 41-member CONCACAF confederation.

If a vote were to be taken to today it is likely that the Caribbean federations would vote to split from CONCACAF by as many as 24 votes to seven, such is the strength of the anger in the Caribbean region at being marginalised via a divide and conquer strategy devised in the US and led by CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani.

CFU president Gordon Derrick raised the proposal of a CFU breakaway from its north and central American neighbours following growing rumours in the region that the Caribbean nations were tired of being dictated to by a confederation that has restricted funding to almost zero, removed the CFU from any meaningful involvement in confederation decision making, and repeatedly attempted to meddle in elections.

“What I am looking for is to get a feeling from the members,” said Derrick. “A seed was planted. Now there has to be a discussion as to the pros and cons, how it would happen and what it might look like, as well as the legal process.”

Speaking to the meeting Derrick made the point the “we were promised development for our youth, we were promised a treatment as equals but we received nothing but crumbs if that. True to the tradition that sadly governed our region for far too long, we were the water carriers of countries much larger than ours, we were expected to deliver when they called and we were to succumb to the interests that were not and are not ours to this day.”

There is no doubt that the Caribbean has been increasingly marginalised by a politically aggressive CONCACAF that has removed its access to funding at all levels from development to competitions to grants for its administrative offices. CONCACAF receives money from sponsors and FIFA grants, that include the Caribbean, but very little of that is passed on and the prevailing CONCACAF view is that the Caribbean cannot be trusted to run it own affairs in the way that it wants. But what CONCACAF wants – a compliant and subservient Caribbean – is not what the Caribbean appears prepared to accept.

The Caribbean with its 31 members is in a battle for control of its region at a time when the widely held belief in the region is that it is being made to pay for the conduct of two of CONCACAF’s presidents – Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb – who were indicted in the US Department of Justice corruption investigations into FIFA.

While Warner and Webb endlessly hived off money for their own personal gain, the rest of the Caribbean suffered financially. With the subsequent vice-like grip CONCACAF has held over money for the Caribbean region, it has reached the point where the CFU and a bulk of its member associations have taken the view that they have little to lose but everything to gain from a breakaway – notwithstanding the moral issue of breaking off the imposed football slave chains of the north American overlords. An analogy that is not lost in the Caribbean nations.

For the CFU executive committee to agree to looking at breakaway options is in itself a major step forward with a number of supporters of president Montagliani and the US administration on that 11-person board.

The battle lines within the Caribbean are coming clearer. While CONCACAF’s thinly disguised attempts to bring the region under their total control have had partial success by bringing under its wing certain key figures in the region, the unity of the whole Caribbean will now be tested and could very well have the last word.

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