Home CONCACAF Warner is out. So, where does CONCACAF go from here?

Warner is out. So, where does CONCACAF go from here?

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So, in the end, the “football tsunami” that Jack Warner had promised never came to pass.

One of the most controversial figures in the soccer world went out quietly Monday, as Warner resigned from all of his posts — including his vice presidency of FIFA and his presidency of CONCACAF — in exchange for the continued presumption of innocence.

After Warner’s resignation was announced, FIFA declared that it would no longer continue a corruption inquiry into the former CONCACAF’s chief’s role in an alleged bribery scandal. Warner stepped aside and gets to keep his reputation as an innocent man — outside of the fans and journalists who have already judged him, that is.

Warner was accused of teaming with then-FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam, allegedly offering bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union in exchange for votes. CONCACAF Secretary-General Chuck Blazer reported Warner to FIFA, and Warner was suspended pending the coming inquiry. Warner had promised to unleash a string of allegations — a “football tsunami” — but then became quiet, almost conciliatory.

CONCACAF is currently being led on an interim basis by Honduran Alfredo Hawit.

But who should take over from Warner on a permanent basis? Yes, he was alleged to have scalped tickets, bribe officials and use his power and influence to blackmail his FIFA opponents. But, as the same time, he gave CONCACAF, a region that is far too often an afterthought in the football world, a strong voice. CONCACAF didn’t always get what it wanted, but it became a key power broker.

The new president will need to fight for the region, to keep pressing for more World Cup places for CONCACAF — an initiative which was rejected as the hosts for 2018 and 2002 were announced. And, this region must become something more than a collection of countries for the United States and Mexico to kick around. The development of the game in the Caribbean, Central America and, yes, Canada, has to be a major goal. That’s why, politically, a new leader from the U.S. or Mexico would be a hard sell.

The new president must work hard to transform the CONCACAF Champions League into a competition that captures the imagination of fans, rather than playing to almost-empty stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico until the final stages.

Politically, a Canadian candidate would be a fantastic choice; it there was one. Canada sits outside the Caribbean Football Union. The last leader came from the Caribbean, so the next one should represent a different part of CONCACAF. A Canadian would be outside of the U.S.-Mexico power base, but be close enough to those nations to understand their wants and needs.

Problem is, there wouldn’t be an ideal Canadian candidate out there. Our Canadian Soccer Association is undergoing its own grown pains and, frankly, doesn’t have the trust of our own soccer-playing public. The fact that FIFA openly warned CSA over the Alberta Court of Appeal’s involvement in the leadership battle in the Alberta Soccer Association wouldn’t bode well.

So, this is what we need from the next CONCACAF leader, whether it be Hawit or a new face. Because of the previous scandal, there will be no doubt a push for the new boss to be a simple FIFA yes man. But, Canada and the rest of the region needs a fiery leader — one who can push for changes, but still me smart enough to know what lines not to cross.

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