News analysis: FIFA blasts the Caribbean Mockingbird with its heavy artillery

Domenico Scala3

By James Dostoyevksy

April 21 – Double jeopardy, denial of the most basic due process and defamation of character seems to be the latest modus operandi of a FIFA compliance outfit that makes statements about the person’s life and livelihood with an acute and present danger of destroying not only his career in football but his ability to make a living.

On April 12, 2016, FIFA issued a statement that Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick, one of three remaining contestants for the CONCACAF presidency, had apparently failed an integrity check and was therefore banned by FIFA to run for office in an organisation that is properly upside down, fraught with corruption and not a FIFA member.

For two years the former FIFA leadership forcefully tried to make the point that what is called a FIFA scandal was actually a scandal of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF and had nothing to do with FIFA, “because FIFA had no influence over any of the six confederations” as they were not FIFA members.

This seems to have rapidly changed now that both CONCACAF and FIFA are seemingly run by US law firms, new FIFA president or not.

FIFA’s tired attempt at a hopeful declaration, which would underline that there could have been not any wrongdoing at the governing body itself, but that all the nefarious wrongdoing happened in faraway lands and by two regional competition organisers (Blatter’s mantra was always to underline that the confederations had no rights as governing bodies but only as competition organisers) has been kicked out of the window per April 12.

So, what happened? With respect to double jeopardy one needs to highlight that Derrick was banned from running for the confederation’s presidency because of the 2011 scandal in Trinidad, where Bin Hammam had allegedly provided funds to CFU members, funds that were apparently distributed by Jack Warner and his team in Port of Spain after a presentation (it needs to be pointed out that Bin Hammam won his appeal before CAS on this case).

A number of CFU members were sanctioned, suspended and banned from football for differing amounts of time. Quite a few of them also had to return the money ($40,000) to FIFA’s investigators (Freeh and company), and on top of it had to pay a fine.

Derrick was one of those, who got away with the simple reprimand and laughable CHF 300 fine, which was “too small of a punishment to appeal”, FIFA said at the time. So the man was neither suspended nor banned, but got a slap on the wrist for a lack of cooperation with Freeh and his people.

This was not the case for one of regional football’s big boys, Horace Burrell of Jamaica, who was suspended for all football activities for several months, fined, but miraculously returned to the FIFA Olympic Football Committee moments after his ban was over.

Derrick, never banned, had been prevented by FIFA to run for a non-FIFA office, while Burrell is a vice president of the same body – CONCACAF – and a member of the Executive Committee.

Odd, isn’t it?

Clearly, both FIFA and CONCACAF operate with two separate concepts of law: it doesn’t take long for the overriding feeling to grow that the little guy gets ‘shafted’, while the big boys with their network of relationships are quickly allowed back into the fold of the old boys network.

But it gets worse.

FIFA has banned the man for something that happened five years ago for an offense so minor – in FIFA’s own reasoning – that it did not allow for an appeal. Derrick gets punished twice. Once in 2011 and the second time in 2016 five years later, for the same wrongdoing. This smacks of double jeopardy.

But it gets worse still. Insideworldfootball has seen information written by CONCACAF’s external chief lawyer, sent to FIFA’s compliance tsar Domenico Scala (pictured), where the CONCACAF man says that after completion of the integrity check CONCACAF finds no fault with Gordon Derrick running for CONCACAF president.

Wait a minute!

So CONCACAF decides that the integrity check, which is predominantly based on newspaper articles, is not justification to ban Derrick from running for office, says so in writing in correspondence to FIFA on April 6, 2016, only for FIFA to turn the whole thing upside down and declare that Derrick is banned from running because he did not pass the integrity check.

But it gets better. To make a bad situation worse, Scala resorts to a further point and pompously proclaims that Derrick is also banned because of another matter, presently under investigation, by FIFA, and which allegedly involves financial mismanagement.

So in complete denial of any due process, a man is found guilty by a FIFA bureaucrat who acts as prosecutor, judge and jury, declares that there was financial mismanagement and rules that this is the second reason why Derrick can’t run.

All of this without having heard from Derrick himself, and after the man complied with all requests for information, and all of this without a verdict having been passed, nor a judgement by the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA, or Ethics being anywhere in sight.

The presumption of innocence, a fundamental concept even in US law, which seems to be governing world football, is clearly dead. A person who has not even been charged with wrongdoing is apparently guilty before anything and has to prove his innocence instead of the prosecution having to overcome the burden of proof.

There is a problem with this concept and the view is shared by several lawyers in Europe and the Caribbean, who have a substantial issue with this saga where a man has been convicted without trial.

But dig a little deeper and it becomes clearer what’s going on behind the scene. Derrick, at times an outspoken questioner of the present CONCACAF ‘leadership’ (and previously an even more outspoken critic of the Jeff Webb dictatorship), has become a convenient scapegoat, having been an inconvenient representative of the 31 Caribbean countries that form the 41- strong CONCACAF membership.

It seems increasingly that the US-led regional body demands a leadership that is convenient to US football. Whether there are undertones of racism involved is another matter that needs to be investigated.

With Derrick gone and Burrell (Jamaica), Luis Hernandez (Cuba) and some of the other heavy hitters of the CONCACAF ExCo vigorously promoting Canadian Victor Montagliani, Bermudan prosecutor and life long law enforcer, FIFA Appeals Committee member Larry Mussenden, originally a Caribbean man until Bermuda joined the North American sub-region, seems to have an increasingly difficult stand to preside over corruption shaken CONCACAF.

The following questions need to be asked:

  1. Why is Derrick banned from standing when CONCACAF had no issue with his integrity?
  2. Why do FIFA make a public statement about alleged guilt without any due process, and solely to cast a very bad light on a man whose integrity is put in to question without any ruling about alleged misconduct having been made?
  3. How can FIFA resort to a ridiculously meek argument, namely a future hypothetical reality that would make the CONCACAF president automatically a FIFA vice president, at a time when a president is nowhere near to having been elected (surely, FIFA would have had ample time to refuse Derrick’s appointment to the FIFA Council if there was evidence at such time when he was nowhere near to have been elected to the CONCACAF presidency)
  4. Why do FIFA resort to what can only be called global defamation of character by dragging a ridiculous reprimand to the foreground and alleging financial mismanagement, when such a mismanagement is nowhere near proven?

It will be interesting to see how Derrick reacts and how his own CFU deals with the situation that is clearly flawed, prima facie very problematic in law and in stark contradiction to CONCACAF’s own ethics findings.

It is not quite enough to publicly announce an increase of the financial assistance programme from $250,000 to $1.25 million (and to quickly forget that campaign promise), but allow this kind of interventionism by FIFA in an organisation that is not even a member and destroy a man’s life in the process without any factual proof given or available.

The new FIFA seems to be the old FIFA except that the network of those who call the shots has rapidly changed.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1701556225labto1701556225ofdlr1701556225owedi1701556225sni@o1701556225fni1701556225