Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More about our Friends and the CONCACAF Congress

Following President's Blatter's address, Warner called a 15 minute break in the meeting allowing the guests to greet the members individually and for the staff to reset the dais following the departure of Messrs. Blatter and Linsi.

Upon returning, Warner got directly into the Agenda of the day and called for the approval of the minutes of the XXIV Congress which was held in Grenada on May 2, 2004. There being no corrections or comments, the motion was approved.

Next, the 21 page Executive Committee Report was reviewed. The document chronicled the last two years of activities of the Confederation. The President took great pride in letting the members know that the materials comprising the meeting book and the Executive Committee report specifically, resplendent with pictures and text covering the accomplishments of the recent past were all produced in-house which was a result of our modernization of technical infrastructure at the CONCACAF New York offices. With applause, the Report was accepted.

The President then turned the meeting over to me, where I presented the Audited Financial Statements for the 2 years ended December 31, 2005 to the Congress. The document included the Auditor's Report; Financial Statements - Balance Sheet at 31/12/05, Statement of Income and Expenditure for the 2 years ending 31/12/05, Cash Flow Statement covering the same 2 year period, Notes to the Financial Statments and finally a detailed categorical Schedule of Expenses for the 2 year period.

Following the submission of the Audit, the Congress reviewed the Budget. All the financial documents had been distributed to the membership one month prior to the meeting. The positive results and the plans for the two years 2006 and 2007 met with the Congress' unanimous approval. Blazer advised the members that while the financial cycle of the Confederation continues to be a two year period, beginning with the Congress of 2007 the Confederation would submit an annual Certified Audit in step with the new Congress calendar. The budgets would continue to be prepared on a two year basis since the income is linked to the Gold Cup while the expenditures are scattered over a two year grid. The news was well received. The positive financial results demonstrated stability while clearly demonstrating that the major investment being made was in competitions. That concluded the financial portion of the Congress.

The next item on the Agenda was a housekeeping issue. The amendments of the Statutes of CONCACAF. Blazer explained to the members that the revisions were limited to the items mandated by FIFA and those other cleanup which brought the Statutes into conformity with the real world. John Collins, CONCACAF Legal Counsel and Member of FIFA's Legal Affairs Committee, took the members through the document change by change and explained each of the items and the reason for the revision. John did an excellent job and accepted one additional clarification on the wording of one of our voting provisions offered by St. Vincent and the Grenadines resulting in updated Statutes now totally in conformity with FIFA's requirements.

Mary Harvey, FIFA's Director of Development, then took the podium to provide a summary of the work FIFA has been doing in our region. She proudly presented that with the exception of only one member, all have submitted their documentation for the audit requirements of FAP (FIFA's Financial Assistance Program) and the vast majority of those have already been confirmed by the auditors of being in conformity. This demonstrated the commitment by Warner to establish CONCACAF's members as the standard of transparency and compliance in responsibly handling the funds granted to it by FIFA.

Mary's department is not only responsible for the FAP program, but also for the very success GOAL program aimed at building physical infrastructure in Members Associations. Its most effective application is where the $400,000 grants are used as seed money to attract investment by private enterprise and governmental grants of land or facilities. Since 1999, 44 Goal projects have been awarded within the CONCACAF territory and have made a significant impact on the facilities of the members and the overall house of FIFA. Jack expressed our gratitude for Mary's support of our region.

The remaining business item of the day was to walk members through the Agenda of the FIFA Congress and to discuss any common positions that the Confederation was inclined to take. Point by point, I went through the Congress agenda and then went into detail on the amendments to the FIFA Statutes. The one real issue for us had been corrected in the FIFA Executive Committee the day before where a proposal made by the Swiss Football Federation at the request of FIFA President Blatter had been revised so as to assure us that deliberate care would be taken and the proper analysis made by the relevant FIFA committees in establishing a new judicial body to deal with gambling, corruption and other ethical transgressions.

We also discussed the proposal to withdraw the overage (over 23 years old) players from the Olympic Finals. This position was well supported by the Congress and is the position of the Confederation going into the FIFA Congress where a decision will be taken regarding the 2008 Beijing Olmypics.

Jack recognized Alan Rothenberg, who will also receive the FIFA Order of Merit for his contribution to football for organizing the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA. Warner concluded the meeting by telling members not to bother send him frivilous emails about news stories and tell all yellow journalists, but rather to email him with their accomplishments in building new fields, in organizing new leagues, in teaching their members more about the organization of the game and by demonstrating what a good job they are doing in their own associations.

It was a great Congress and a really lovely afternoon spent in the company of friends.

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