By Stefan Fabien, Attorney-at-Law, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) President and Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) General Secretary, Gordon Derrick, last month was given a six-year ban, with immediate effect, from all football-related activities by the FIFA Ethics Committee.
The ban comes after the Ethics Committee found that Derrick had committed various breaches of FIFA’s Ethics Code, including alleged conflicts of interest, offering and accepting gifts and other benefits, mismanagement of funds, abuse of position and disloyalty. The Ethics Committee also ordered Derrick to pay a fine of Sw.Frs.30,000.
This decision, which emanates from the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Independent FIFA Ethics Committee, comes on the heels of an earlier recommendation, made in April 2017, for a ban of not less than 4 years, after FIFA reopened an investigation into alleged corruption by Derrick.
The accusations have been denied by Derrick
The decision, which is the latest in a number of decisions over the years by the Independent FIFA Ethics Committee, has sought to address a number of accusations of corruption on the part of FIFA Executive Committee Members and saw the Ethics Committee being provided with more independence and a greater ‘bite’ in 2012.
The Ethics Committee was thrust into the public spotlight, in or around May 2011, when the then FIFA Vice-President, CFU President and CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) President, Jack Warner, were accused, together with FIFA Executive Committee Member and Asian Football Confederation President, Mohammed Bin Hammam, of offering or making cash gifts to officials from the 25 CFU associations at a special meeting in Trinidad on 10 May 2011. Both Bin Hammam and Warner were temporarily suspended by the Ethics Committee and Warner resigned from all football-related activity before it took any decision.
Warner currently awaits the outcome of extradition proceedings in his native Trinidad, following an indictment and an arrest warrant issued from the United States Department of Justice on corruption charges, related to his time with the world football governing body. Last month Warner failed in his claim for Judicial Review of the decision of the Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General to grant the ‘authority to proceed’ with the US extradition request.
In July 2011, the FIFA Ethics Committee banned Bin Hammam from all footballing activity for life; a decision that was reversed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in July 2012, holding that there was insufficient direct evidence linking Bin Hammam with the money and adding that it was a situation of ‘case not proven’. In December 2012, Bin Hammam resigned from all positions in football.
Derrick replaced Jack Warner as CFU President in 2012 and received a reprimand from the Ethics Committee and a fine of Sw.Frs.3000 for what was deemed a ‘bit part’ role, in his failure to pass on information regarding the said meeting.
In April 2016, Derrick attempted to stand for the post of CONCACAF President, but was blocked by FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee (ACC) as a result of that sanction meted out to him in 2012. Derrick appealed to the CAS; however, CAS dismissed his appeal in February 2017, upholding the ACC’s mandate to conduct eligibility checks on candidates for positions as FIFA Vice-President or on the FIFA Council.
In the wake of that unsuccessful appeal, several CFU Member Presidents tendered their resignations, over the failure of Derrick to step down as CFU president.
It is likely that the most recent 6-year sanction will be appealed to the CAS by Derrick; however, it remains to be seen whether the cumulative effect of decisions of respected jurist-led independent committees over the years may serve in making Derrick’s position as CFU untenable. This decision may also be the last in a line of corruption-busting investigations of the Cornel Borbély-Joachim Eckert FIFA Ethics Committee team.
Both Cornel Borbély, a swiss prosecutor, who led many Ethics Committee investigations and was the Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, and Hans Joachim Eckert, a former German Judge, who chaired the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee, had their terms discontinued in May of this year after their four-year terms ended.
Stefan Fabien may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org