Alfredo Hawit

After three presidents indicted, CONCACAF to lead by committee

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MIAMI (AP) 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.

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“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 U.S. 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.

[ MORE: FBI investigation zeroes in on Blatter, $100 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.

[ MORE: 16 more soccer officials arrested, 92-count indictment unsealed ]

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 U.S.

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 Nov. 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 U.S.

16 more soccer officials arrested, 92-count indictment unsealed

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“The World Cup of fraud” continued on Thursday, as 16 more soccer officials from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, the respective confederations of South American, and North and Central America and the Caribbean, were arrested and hit with a 92-count indictment featuring charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.

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The 92-count indictment, unsealed and announced on Thursday by United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, also features superseding charges for a number of officials arrested and charged with similar crimes back in May.

Most notable of those arrested and charged on Thursday were current CONCACAF and CONMEBOL presidents, Alfredo Hawitt and Juan Angel Napout, respectively. The two confederations worked together closely to organize the 2016 Copa America Centenario, a tournament heavily linked to corruption and bribes, on U.S. soil in the summer of 2016.

The quote of all quotes from Thursday’s press conference, from Lynch — quotes from the Guardian:

“The betrayal of trust set forth here is outrageous. The scale of corruption alleged herein is unconscionable. And the message from this announcement should be clear to every culpable individual who remains in the shadows, hoping to evade our investigation: you will not wait us out. You will not escape our focus.”

Additionally, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that eight others, including three of the defendants arrested and charged in May, a list which includes former CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, have already entered guilty pleas and, in some cases, agreed to assist the DOJ as the increasingly wide-reaching case continues into 2016 and beyond.

[ MORE: FIFA to decide on expanding World Cup field to 40 teams

One official speaking in Thursday’s press conference called the Internal Revenue Service’s investigation into the FIFA corruption case “one of the most complex worldwide financial investigations ever conducted.”

Lynch refused to comment on currently-suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter in regards to Thursday’s arrests and charges, but confirmed once again that the DOJ’s investigation is far from complete.

CONCACAF president to review refereeing department after Gold Cup fiasco

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CONCACAF’s refereeing department could be in line for something of an overhaul in the coming months and years, as the North and Central America and Caribbean confederation announced Monday that acting president Alfredo Hawit (Honduras) will review the region’s heavily scrutinized referee department following a series of controversial and game-altering incidents at the recently completed 2015 Gold Cup.

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Following the second semifinal matchup, between Mexico and Panama, CONCACAF released a statement that said referee Mark Geiger’s decisions during the second half severely altered the outcome of that game. Geiger’s status with the Professional Referee Organization has been and will continue to be unaffected.

From the CONCACAF release:

The designation of President Hawit to lead this review process was approved unanimously by the CONCACAF Executive Committee at an in-person meeting on Saturday, July 25, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Committee based its decision on Mr. Hawit’s 24-year experience in referee administration .

“The foundation of our game is fair play, and we must take the required steps to reinforce the importance of this principle,” President Hawit said in a statement. “This review will allow the Confederation to take the next step towards improving refereeing across the region.”

According to the CONCACAF release, the review, which the organization says is already underway, will include a “detailed evaluation of refereeing standards throughout the region,” as well as “an assessment of processes for determining referee assignments for each match.”