/ 22 June 2011

Fifa opens case against Concacaf vice-president

Fifa says it has opened disciplinary proceedings against Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) vice-president Lisle Austin for breaching football regulations by going to court to challenge his suspension from the regional organisation.

Austin obtained an injunction from a Bahamas court allowing him to resume his duties after being suspended for rule violations, including trying to fire Fifa bribery scandal whistleblower Chuck Blazer from Concacaf.

Fifa and Concacaf statutes prohibit the use of “ordinary courts” to settle disputes.

The Barbados football chief was asked to withdraw the injunction, but Fifa told the Associated Press on Tuesday that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against him.

Austin’s suspension was also extended to cover world football.

Blatter backs Valcke
Meanwhile, Fifa president Sepp Blatter has given his full support to secretary general Jerome Valcke, whose comments about World Cup host Qatar in a private email embarrassed football’s governing body.

Fifa said on Tuesday there are “no pending issues” between them, despite Blatter declining to back his top administrator at a May 30 news conference after the email was leaked by then Fifa vice-president Jack Warner.

Blatter and Valcke “look forward to working together in full confidence and trust in the next four-year cycle, as they have done for the past four years”, Fifa said in a statement.

Valcke’s comment that Qatar had “bought” the 2022 World Cup hosting rights was published by Warner three weeks ago, hours after the Trinidadian official was suspended by Fifa’s ethics committee while he faced bribery allegations.

Blatter was then quizzed on Valcke’s job security because Fifa statutes allow only the president to propose firing the secretary general.

“I don’t answer this question,” Blatter said at a hostile news conference two days before being re-elected on June 1. “We will come back later inside Fifa on that.”

A ‘lighter’ tone
As Fifa was shaken by allegations of election bribery and vote-buying, Valcke issued a statement seeking to limit potential damage caused by his correspondence.

The French official said he used a “lighter” tone in emails, and explained that he had referred to Qatar’s financial power in lobbying for support and hadn’t implied any wrongdoing by bid officials.

Warner leaked the comment after promising to hit Fifa with a “football tsunami” as it pursued an election bribery probe against himself and former Fifa presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar.

Warner, who backtracked on a later promise to publish an email exchange with Blatter, resigned from all his football positions on Monday.

Fifa then dropped its investigation of Warner, while insisting he was not offered an immunity deal and would be required as a witness in Bin Hammam’s case. — Sapa-AP