Since yesterday’s startling events unearthed widespread corruption in football’s world governing body, FIFA, there have been widespread calls for its president Sepp Blatter to resign.
But don’t add Hamilton Lashley’s name to that list of people who believe football’s most powerful man should step down.
In fact, Lashley, a veteran football administrator, has insisted it would be in the region’s best interest if Blatter is returned as president when he comes up against Jordan Prince, Ali bin al-Hussein, at FIFA’s elections tomorrow in Zurich, Switzerland.
England’s Prime Minister David Cameron, UEFA chief, Michel Platini and Chairman of the English Football Association, Greg Dyke are among the most prominent figures who have called for Blatter’s resignation following what has been described as the biggest sporting scandal in history, which has seen over 14 people indicted on federal corruption charges.
Among those facing possible extradition to the United States to face bribery and racketeering charges are CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
However, despite these recent developments, Lashley has insisted that under Blatter’s watch, football in the Caribbean, Africa and the Americas has benefited significantly.
“CONCACAF and the African nations should get together and support Sepp Blatter. He has supported both regions and we have benefited greatly from the injection of funds into the sport,” Lashley, who is well known for his role as coordinator of the highly popular David Thompson Memorial Football Classic told Barbados TODAY in an interview this afternoon.
“Under Blatter’s leadership CONCACAF has received substantial financial and administrative support and that fact cannot be questioned.”
The former president and manager of both the Regents and Pinelands Football Clubs warned of the possible implications if al-Hussein was elected president.
“Platini and UEFA are backing Ali bin al-Hussein to become FIFA’s new president. However, I believe that if that ever comes to fruition, the Caribbean will suffer.
“I do not believe that CONCACAF and the Caribbean will be high on their lists of things to do, and I am wary that the financial support which we were getting may disappear,” Lashley lamented.
Speaking on yesterday’s startling revelations, he described it as a “very dark day in sports history”.
And as a former member of the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) Youth Committee, he said he hoped no one from the BFA would be implicated in the scandal.
“I don’t know where the investigations will lead, because when the FBI and the investigators start to dig they will leave no stones unturned in getting to the bottom of the matter,” he noted.
“I would really hope that a scandal of this magnitude does not find its way into Barbados . . .”
Lashley, who is also a former parliamentarian, was especially disappointed at the fact that Webb and Warner were among those indicted.
He said Webb was someone whom people saw as a future FIFA president, while Warner had dedicated a large portion of his life to helping football in the region.
“What has happened is very unfortunate for Webb. He was highly respected and loved in CONCACAF and people believed he was the right man to take the organization forward.
“And when Warner was vice president of FIFA, he made sure that football in the Caribbean was looked after. Yesterday was a truly sad day in football for the world . . . but especially sad for the people in the Caribbean,” he added.