Austin defends firing Blazer
Zurich – Sepp Blatter?was re-elected unopposed for a fourth term as FIFA president yesterday, hours after a war of words erupted following a move by interim CONCACAF president Lisle Austin to sack general secretary Chuck Blazer.
Austin, who has replaced the suspended Jack Warner, had announced on Tuesday evening that he had fired Blazer with “immediate effect”, but a separate CONCACAF statement subsequently rejected that assertion, noting that Austin had acted “without any authority”.
However, Austin countered in another statement that it was within his authority to fire the American, pointing out that he had also sought legal advice in effecting the termination.
“I have been made aware of a statement from CONCACAF Media Relations purporting that my actions to terminate Chuck Blazer as general secretary in my capacity as president (Ag) of CONCACAF were unauthorized,” Austin said.
“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 [sought].”
Quoting the CONCACAF statutes, Austin asserted that the president had “the judicial and extrajudicial representation of CONCACAF” and pointed out that the executive committee could not convene a meeting without the president’s directive.
“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 unauthorized use of CONCACAF’s services and equipment by non-CONCACAF staff is unlawful,” Austin charged.
Austin said that in his capacity as acting president, he had no intention of ordering the immediate shutdown of all online facilities of the Confederation due to the integral role it played in the day-to-day operations.
“(But) 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 . . . .
“I can assure you that this is my final statement on this matter. I will not allow myself or this organization to be dragged into a tit-for-tat war in the public domain.
“The reputation of this organization has suffered immensely over the last two weeks.”
Meanwhile, Blatter, the 75-year-old Swiss who has run FIFA since 1998, was voted in by an overwhelming majority, winning 186 votes of the 203 cast.
Shrugging off the scandals that have hit world soccer’s governing body to secure another four years in charge, Blatter promised to use his final four-year term for radical reform of a sport reeling from bribery and corruption allegations.
Delegates gave Blatter overwhelming backing to reform soccer’s governing body from within, rejecting a call from England to delay the election.
“We will put the ship back on course in clear transparent waters,” Blatter told delegates.
Yet, even as he received flowers and soaked up the applause, Blatter was facing trouble, after Germany called for a review of the process in which Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup. (CMC/Reuters/EZS)