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FIFA wants US$25m Centre of Excellence
FIFA will take legal steps to recover the ownership of the US$25.5 million Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence, which the football’s world governing body claims to have funded. The issue was raised during the regional body Concacaf’s election, which saw Cayman Islands’ Jeffrey Webb voted in at the congress held in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday.
An AP report said yesterday FIFA president Sepp Blatter has since cited a “problem” in salvaging the Macoya property, which was allegedly signed over to former Concacaf president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner’s family business. FIFA has started legal action against Warner, who resigned from all football-related matters last June, after a bribery scandal which rocked FIFA’s presidential election campaign.
Warner was involved in football in the Caribbean for almost 30 years, before resigning under threat of a FIFA probe. It is said that Warner, along with former vice-president Lisle Austin, took out a mortgage on the Macoya property, which was built in 2007 using FIFA grants. Blatter was quoted at a news conference as saying: “Definitely, this is now a problem that we are going to tackle.”
The Centre of Excellence, named after former FIFA President Joao Havelange, includes a swimming complex, a lavish garden sanctuary, a fitness centre, a 44-room hotel, an 800-capacity theatre, a banquet and reception hall, as well as several other meeting halls. The Marvin Lee Stadium is also part of the centre.
Chuck Blazer, another former FIFA executive member, was not at the meeting, which detailed an audit of Concacaf's finances. He cited illness for his absence. Both Blazer and Warner were the subject of allegations of financial mismanagement, outlined to 40 football nations just after Webb was elected.
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