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Bahamas court reinstates Austin as acting Concacaf boss
The power struggle within Concacaf has deepened even further with Barbadian Lisle Austin claiming he was back at the head of the embattled confederation after gaining a court injunction in the Bahamas on Friday. According to a statement from Austin, the High Court in Bahamas granted a provisional injunction which prevents Concacaf’s executive committee from inferring with his role as acting president.
Concacaf’s Statutes establish the Bahamian capital of Nassau as the headquarters of the Confederation and classifies the organisation as “a Bahamian not-for-profit corporation.” A week ago, Austin was suspended from acting as president following a decision by the majority of the executive committee who accused him of violating the organisation’s statues.
Football’s world governing body, Fifa, on Thursday extended the ban to international football activities. “I am gratified but not surprised by yesterday’s order,” Austin said of the injunction. “I have stood firm in my belief that I rightfully succeeded to the Acting Presidency of Concacaf and (the) order affirms my belief.” Austin, a Concacaf senior vice-president, was appointed to lead the confederation after sitting president Jack Warner was suspended by Fifa’s ethics committee pending an investigation into bribery allegations. The start of Austin’s tenure was signalled by the attempted sacking of general secretary Chuck Blazer and the announcement of a forensic audit of Concacaf’s finances over the last five years.
Last Saturday, a statement issued from Concacaf’s New York-based offices announced that Austin had been “provisionally banned from all football activities within Concacaf” following a meeting by executive committee members Honduran Alfredo Hawit, Mexican Justino Compean, Ariel Alvarado of Panama and American Sunil Gulati. Austin contended then, and again on Friday, that the meeting had been illegal as only the president was authorised to call and chair executive committee meetings. He said he would now refocus his energies to putting Concacaf on a sound footing. “My efforts to lead the Confederation into a new era continue again today (Friday),” Austin stressed. “The rogue faction attacking Concacaf from within cannot interfere with our love of this sport and our pursuit of reform and transparency.”
It was Blazer’s report to Fifa detailing charges of bribery coming out of a meeting in Trinidad and Tobago last month that sparked the Fifa investigation and led to the suspension of Warner and Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam. Bin Hammam and Warner have been accused of offering cash bribes to Caribbean Football Union federations in exchange of voting for Bin Hammam in the Fifa presidential elections earlier this month. The incumbent Sepp Blatter was returned unopposed after Hammam pulled out of the race.