The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) has broken ranks with its traditional leaders as Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) general secretary Gordon Derrick and a new-look cast was elected into governance at its ordinary congress today at the Boscolo Hotel in Budapest, Hungary.
Derrick, who heads an event and marketing company and is a director at the Antigua Commercial Bank, replaced ex-FIFA Vice President and Works Minister Jack Warner at the helm of Caribbean football. He effectively saw off challenges from Barbados’ Ronald Jones, Cuba’s Luis Hernandez and Trinidad and Tobago’s Harold Taylor.
A source informed Wired868 that Derrick received 12 votes from the 30 CFU member associations in the first round of voting and 16 in the second and final round.
In contrast, Taylor, whose nomination was controversially forced upon the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) by Warner, supposedly garnered five votes in the first round and just one in the second.
Derrick, who was among several CFU officials punished for their role in the Mohamed bin Hammam bribery scandal last year, declared today’s election as the beginning of the region’s reunification.
“Rest assured there will be no marginalisation, discrimination or segregation under my tenure,” said Derrick. “We are all vital components of this Union, each and every member has a part to play and it is only through unity can we move the Union forward.
“My friends, we have just witnessed a truly democratic election in this Union. This is the beginning of a new era; the elections are now over, let us from this moment begin the reunification process.”
Derrick’s triumph is likely to mean curtains for Warner’s controversial reign. The United National Congress (UNC) Chairman quit all football posts on 20 June 2012 to avoid censor from FIFA after the bin Hammam scandal but had tried to retain his influence in the local and regional game.
The other posts went as follows: First Vice-President Cheney Joseph (Grenada); Second Vice-President Larry Mussenden (Bermuda); Third Vice-President Lyndon Cooper (St. Lucia); Fourth Vice-President Canover Watson (Cayman Islands); Executive Members Sonia Bien-Aime (Turks and Caicos Islands), Hillaren Frederick (US Virgin Islands), Anthony Johnson (St. Kitts and Nevis) and Maurice Victoire (Martinique).
Frederick and Johnson are the only other CFU executive members who were guilty of wrongdoing in the bin Hammam affair. Like Derrick, they were reprimanded and fined 300 Swiss Francs (TT$2,036).
Cayman Islands football president Jeffrey Webb, who headed the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee in the Caribbean, will be officially named as CONCACAF president tomorrow.
Apart from Taylor, Jamaica’s Horace Reid and Haiti’s Yves Jean-Bart were also ignored by the electorate as the less established nations opted to plot their own course.
None of the representative associations on the CFU executive has ever qualified for a FIFA tournament while only Martinique, which is not a full CONCACAF member, has won the Caribbean tournament.
St Lucia, with a population of 162,000, is the largest of the member associations now in a leadership role. None are republic nations and the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos and the US Virgin Islands are all outposts of the United Kingdom and the United States respectively
Derrick is a polemic figure himself and has faced his share of scandal in Antigua.
Most prominently, the new CFU president uses the ABFA’s English national coach to lead his own club team, Antigua Barracudas, which was selected to represent Antigua in the 2012 Caribbean Club championship although it has never played competitively on the island.
The Barracudas qualified for the final CFU stage of competition after topping a group that included local team, W Connection, while Antigua and Barbuda is in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying semi-final stage for the first time in the nation’s history.