Acting CONCACAF chief: Blazer 'waging war'

MIAMI - A split within CONCACAF deepened on Wednesday when its acting president insisted the regional football governing body's general secretary Chuck Blazer had been fired and accused him of "waging war."

Barbadian Lisle Austin has taken over from Jack Warner, the FIFA vice-president who is suspended from all football activities pending a full inquiry into bribery charges.

Austin said he had fired CONCACAF general secretary Blazer and on Wednesday he also announced that he had hired an unnamed Miami accounting firm to conduct a "forensic audit" of the last five years of the organisation's accounts.

While that report could provide further sparks in the conflict, it remains to be seen whether Austin can succeed in driving America Blazer out of the organisation.

Blazer had filed the report on bribery allegations in the Caribbean which led to Warner's suspension.

The American issued a statement late on Tuesday night through CONCACAF's media department in New York saying Austin had no right, or power, under its statutes to fire him and he remained in office with the body for North and Central America and the Caribbean.

On Wednesday, though, with the FIFA Congress discussing a "zero tolerance" approach to corruption, Austin issued another statement via Warner's media service in Port of Spain, Trinidad, saying Blazer remained fired and the New York statements were not official.

"The statement released by the CONCACAF Media Department last night as it relates to the status of the former General Secretary Chuck Blazer are not the official views of CONCACAF," said Austin's latest statement.

"This is yet another blatant disregard for process and procedure by the former staff member."

ILLEGAL ACTIONS

"The former General Secretary was one of the administrators of the servers used by the CONCACAF department and has access to it and presently still has access to all of the Confederation's online service.

"The response from the CONCACAF Media Department is not only the fruit of illegal actions on the part of Mr Blazer, who is no longer the General Secretary of this Confederation, but is tantamount to trespassing since, the unauthorised use of CONCACAF's services and equipment by non-CONCACAF staff is unlawful.

"In my capacity as Acting President, I will not order the immediate shutdown of all online facilities of the Confederation due the integral role it plays in our day to day operations.

"It saddens me to note that Mr Blazer is using the online publications of a Confederation of which he is no longer employed to wage a war against the Office of the Acting President."

CONCACAF's premier tournament, the Gold Cup, starts on Sunday in Dallas featuring 12 teams playing in 13 venues across the United States.

Austin's letter announcing the audit was sent to four senior CONCACAF officials who he says held a meeting on Tuesday night without his knowledge.

The four executive committee members the letter was addressed to are U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, Mexican Football Federation president Justino Compean, Ariel Alvarado of Panama and Alfredo Hawit of Honduras.

With Austin's powerbase, which like Warner's is in the Caribbean, and Blazer gaining support from the North and Central American federations, the split in the organisations has taken on a distinct geographical character which could prove difficult to heal.


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