BROUGHT BRIBERY CHARGES: Chuck Blazer

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JACK SNITCH FIRED?

Confusion over legality of dismissal of CONCACAF general secretary who blew whistle on Warner

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

AMERICAN Chuck Blazer, the whistle-blower who brought bribery allegations against FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, has been fired as General Secretary of CONCACAF.

Barbadian Lisle Austin, the newly appointed interim president of CONCACAF, faxed the dismissal letter to Blazer's hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland yesterday.

Blazer was fired because of "inexcusable" conduct and "a gross misconduct of duty and of judgment", Austin stated in his letter yesterday.

But hours after he was dismissed by Austin, CONCACAF said on its website that Blazer remained General Secretary with the "full authority of his office" since acting president Austin did not have the authority to fire him.

CONCACAF said jurisdiction over Blazer rested solely with the executive committee which had taken no action.

Austin took over the reins of CONCACAF, the North and Central America and Caribbean football governing body on Monday following the suspension for 30 days of CONCACAF president Warner from all football activities.

In a statement released e-mailed at 8.45 last night, Austin acknowledged he was aware that CONCACAF Media Relations sent its own statement purporting that his actions to terminate Blazer were unauthorised.

He disagreed, stating: "It is instructive to note that the authority of the President to terminate Mr Blazer rests in the CONCACAF Statutes and was taken after legal advice had been sort."

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

Warner, the country's Works and Transport Minister, and Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar, were suspended from FIFA on Sunday pending an investigation into bribery allegations.

It was Blazer's report to the FIFA Ethics Committee, which contained allegations of bribery against Warner and bin Hammam that led to their suspension.

Blazer's alleged that bribes were offered to Caribbean Football Union members at a May meeting in Port of Spain in return for votes supporting bin Hammam's FIFA presidential bid.

A letter was yesterday sent to Blazer's room at Swiss hotel Baur au Lac informing him of his "immediate" termination from the role of CONCACAF secretary general.

Austin listed four reasons for his decision to have Blazer terminated.

He alleged:

"1. On May 30, 2011 at the Swissotel, Zurich, Switzerland you grossly insulted and defamed every member of the Association of the Caribbean of the CONCACAF by stating categorically that each member association is under investigation for bribery; and

2. Without any authorisation whatsoever from the Executive Committee of CONCACAF you hired the law firm Collins and Collins to conduct an unauthorised investigation of CONCACAF and its personnel and members.

3. Deliberately not informing myself, as I am now for the moment the President of CONCACAF, of the CONCACAF Caucus prior to the FIFA Congress of June 1 and usurping the authority of the President to chair all meetings of CONCACAF including the Caucus.

4. Improperly appointing five non-elected members of CONCACAF to act as delegates to the FIFA Congress of June 1 rather than eligible elected members including myself, the acting President of CONCACAF."

"The above conduct is inexcusable and a gross misconduct of duty and of judgment. It is apparent that you are no longer fit to act as Secretary General of CONCACAF and to represent its members," Austin stated in his letter yesterday.

Blazer has been asked to appear at the CONCACAF office next Monday at 10 a.m.

He has been told to return "all computers, laptops, faxes, and equipment of any type or nature, as well as all financial records, contracts, other books and records and all other materials of any type or nature belonging to or developed for CONCACAF" at that meeting.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter and General Secretary Jerome Valcke were also informed of the decision to terminate Blazer.

Austin said it was the dawn of a new era in CONCACAF and the Confederation could not afford to be further dragged through the mud by its detractors.

He said it was time to heal the wounds inflicted upon the Confederation and urged his membership to rebuild and strengthen friendships that once had made them one.

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