By Paul Nicholson
April 13 – The battle for the presidency of CONCACAF has been reduced to two contenders – Canada’s Victor Montagliani and Bermuda’s Larry Mussenden – after clear favourite Gordon Derrick was removed from the running after being ruled out by CONCACAF’s legal advisors Sidley Austin, supported by FIFA’s Ethics chief Domenico Scala.
The removal of Derrick from the race takes out the candidate preferred by the majority of the Caribbean – Derrick is president of the Caribbean Football Union – and is pretty much the only way his election to the regional leadership could be prevented considering the power of the Caribbean block if it votes together.
The reason for Derrick becoming in-eligible is not entirely clear. At press time Gordon Derrick issued a statement that he had received a letter “from the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee, informing me that I cannot be admitted as a candidate for the election to the office of FIFA Vice-President. This, by extension, bars me from being a candidate for the CONCACAF presidency.
“The letter from Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee Mr. Domenico Scala cited a November 17, 2011 reprimand following the Bin Hammam matter, for which I was fined CHF 300, and an ongoing investigation that began over a year ago, on March 6, 2015.”
Derrick says that he will comment further in due course but expressed concern over the path football development is taking in the region. FIFA declined to comment on the case.
The integrity checks on the presidential election candidates were carried out initially by CONCACAF’s hired legal advisor Samir Gandhi from law firm Sidley Austin, before being handed over for rubber stamping by Domenico Scala’s FIFA Ethics body.
Gandhi sits on CONCACAF’s current management committee, and works closely with Montagliani, and has been a driving force behind passing CONCACAF’s new reforms. With Montagliani he was one of CONCACAF’s representatives to FIFA’s reform committee.
Ironically Derrick was a member of CONCACAF’s own reform committee and a key player in getting the Caribbean to agree to the new reforms despite the perceived threat that Caribbean influence on decision-making power was being reduced, and debate over whether the confederation had broken its own statues by not appointing a new president immediately after interim president Alfredo Hawit was arrested last December in Zurich,
Having been a champion of the reforms it appears Derrick has now become a victim of them. Questions of conflicts of interest and influence are being asked across the region.
Gandhi along with US federation president Sunil Gulati, have been lobbying hard for Montagliani. As well as serving on management and ethics committees with Montagliani, Gandhi conducted the CONCACAF integrity checks through his law firm and then referred them to FIFA.
In the Caribbean questions are being asked over the role CONCACAF’s executive and its US advisors have played in what is increasingly being viewed as a manipulated election process
Guyana’s Mark Rodrigues who dropped out of the presidential race after failing to win enough support (Caribbean votes were lining up behind Derrick and Mussenden), said: “The ‘forces’ that run CONCACAF are not serious about effective change other than have the official control be a North American candidate. All of this talk about complete reform restructure in CONCACAF and FIFA is simply window dressing for the general public…The statutes are not the problem…
“Having now stated that the statutes are not the problem then raises the question – what is?” said Rodrigues.
“The problem is the remaining executive leadership in CONCACAF. Some of the remaining leadership has been in existence since Jack Warner and subsequently remained along with some new faces through the Jeffery Webb era , including the Marketing Director who was recently promoted to Deputy General Secretary by the Exco. This is the same person that worked in the office alongside Jeffery Webb and his illegal activities.
“The question needs to be asked “how did he not know of what was transpiring”, he was the Marketing Director. Was he the source who provided the coup de grace on Jeffery Webb?… What about the long existing (since Jack Warner’s era) and permanent fixture of an Acting General Secretary – Ted Howard … Why is there a need for an acting GS who has very limited and/or no decision making power, and is just a glorified secretary. These and many other questions need to be asked of the existing Exco who have done a good job of protecting themselves and covering their tracks to date. They all need to be replaced in the new CONCACAF Council.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org