After three presidents indicted, CONCACAF to lead by committee

MIAMI: The CONCACAF soccer body will go without a president until May after its past three leaders were indicted in the FIFA bribery case.

The North and Central American and Caribbean confederation said its executive committee decided Monday to have a collective leadership for five months and not appoint another interim president.

"In light of current events, it is critical that the confederation's next president be determined by a public election and the scrutiny that comes with it," CONCACAF said in a statement.

A vacancy opened when acting president Alfredo Hawit of Honduras was arrested in Zurich last Thursday on a US. Department of Justice request.

Hawit, a FIFA vice president, was among seven senior CONCACAF region officials in the latest DOJ indictment to rock soccer's governing body and rip through its Latin American leaders.

Previous CONCACAF presidents Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago were charged in a first indictment published in May.

Webb's guilty plea to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering charges was also unsealed last Thursday. He agreed to forfeit $6.7 million in bribes.

CONCACAF said its presidential election to formally replace Webb is scheduled on May 12 in Mexico City, before the FIFA Congress there.

The 41-member nation region opted not to follow its own statutes Monday, which would have elevated senior vice president Justino Compean of Mexico to the top job.

"This interim leadership structure demonstrates the confederation's (executive committee) unity and allows us to serve our Member Associations with a high level of efficiency, transparency, and accountability," Compean said in the CONCACAF statement.

The seven-member leadership panel also includes FIFA executive committee members Sunil Gulati of the U.S. and Sonia Bien-Aime of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The presidency of CONCACAF has become a notorious position during FIFA's slide into crisis.

Hawit was named in the indictment for taking a $250,000 bribe to exploit his position of influence when made acting CONCACAF president in 2011 after FIFA suspended Warner for bribery.

Hawit agreed to try to steer CONCACAF commercial rights toward Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, a father and son from Argentina who ran the Full Play agency and were indicted in May.

He also was implicated in a separate bribery conspiracy with Miami-based agency Media World over broadcast rights for World Cup qualifying matches of the Honduras national team.

Hawit is currently detained in a Zurich-area jail and fighting extradition to the US.

Webb agreed to his extradition in July and has since been allowed to live at his Loganville, Georgia, home. He pleaded guilty to seven charges on November 23.

Webb was elected to lead CONCACAF in May 2012, after Hawit had been an interim president for nearly one year.

Warner, a longtime FIFA vice president who was banned for life by its ethics committee in September, is contesting extradition to the US.