CONCACAF suspends prez Lisle Austin

Updated: June 4, 2011, 2:53 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Acting CONCACAF president Lisle Austin has been suspended by the continental federation for allegedly violating rules.

The provisional ban applies to Austin's activities with CONCACAF and in his native Barbados. CONCACAF, which represents North and Central America and the Caribbean, is also asking FIFA to extend Austin's suspension to soccer duties worldwide until his full hearing July 13.

CONCACAF vice president Alfredo Hawit of Honduras is now the acting president.

"We are clearly passing through a difficult time," Hawit said in a statement released by CONCACAF. "However, I steadfastly believe that CONCACAF will overcome these challenges and reach even greater heights."

The suspension drew and angry response Saturday from Austin, who claimed in a statement that the action was "illegal."

"It necessarily follows that if the president did not convene or did not chair any meeting of the executive committee that any actions taken or decisions reached at said meeting are not only unenforceable but are ultra vires (invalid)," the statement said.

CONCACAF did not say what Austin did to merit the suspension, which took effect Thursday. But he tried to remove Chuck Blazer as secretary general in retaliation for Blazer's bribery allegations against longtime CONCACAF leader Jack Warner and fellow FIFA executive committee member Mohamed bin Hammam. CONCACAF's executive committee quickly rebuffed Austin's move, saying he lacked the power to remove Blazer.

Warner and bin Hammam were suspended by FIFA after Blazer accused them of offering Caribbean officials $40,000 each in exchange for their votes in last Wednesday's presidential election. Bin Hammam had been the only challenger to Sepp Blatter, who was elected unopposed to a fourth term.

Austin also tried to sever CONCACAF's relationship with John P. Collins, a former federal prosecutor who investigated Blazer's allegations and prepared the report for FIFA. Collins represents CONCACAF, and also sits on FIFA's legal committee.

Collins' signature is on the notice of Austin's suspension.

The announcement comes one day before the start of the Gold Cup, CONCACAF's premier event. The tournament is being played in 13 cities across the United States, and the winner will earn a spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup, the all-important World Cup tune-up.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press