Burrell breaks silence
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, has finally addressed the corruption claims that have rocked FIFA and the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), dismissing the notion that the federation was offered or received money to throw its support behind ex-presidential candidate, Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam.
Burrell's statement came just hours after influential local figure, Edward Seaga, chairman of the Professional Football Association of Jamaica and the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA), questioned the JFF's silence and warned that the claims and perceived culpability will ultimately damage the country's international reputation, and also that of the entire Caribbean region.
"This act of corruption involves the reputation of the Caribbean football federations and has shamed the reputation of football, much to the great sorrow of lovers of the game and other well-thinking people," read Seaga's release. To restore the integrity of the region, Seaga said, the present leaders of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) must call on all the federations which received the US$40,000 bribe to return it forthwith.
There have been allegations that suspended CONCACAF and CFU president, Austin 'Jack' Warner - a close ally of Burrell - offered US$40,000 to member associations, including Jamaica, to vote for bin Hammam at the election. Warner and bin Hammam have since been suspended from all footballing matters while a FIFA ethics committee examines the claims.
Burrell has since assumed the role of acting CFU president in Warner's absence.
The JFF boss is, however, less than amused about Seaga's insinuations; distancing his administration from the statements and challenging the former prime minister of Jamaica to provide evidence to justify his suggestions or withdraw his release.
"Let me state categorically that the JFF was not offered, neither received any funds prior to, during nor after the CFU meeting held May 10-11 in Trinidad," read a statement issued by Burrell in the wee hours of yesterday morning.
Burrell was, of course, in Europe attending a series of meetings, including the FIFA Congress.
"The Jamaica Football Federation would like to distance itself from the unfortunate remarks contained in a press release issued by The Most Hon Edward Seaga in his capacity as chairman of the PLCA," the release further read. "The statement (by Seaga) appears to have tried, found guilty and pronounced sentence on an entire region's football associations, despite the fact that the competent authority to adjudicate these matters has come to no such conclusion.
"The PLCA is a subordinate body to the JFF and Mr Seaga will not be allowed to use the privileges granted by the JFF to the PLCA to hurl insults and disrespect at the members of the federation," Burrell added.
"The JFF calls on the honourable PLCA chairman to either provide the public, and indeed the FIFA ethics committee, with any evidence he has to corroborate these allegations ... or cease to engage in this denigration of an entire region's reputation forthwith by withdrawing this release," Burrell's statement continued.