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News & Comment

Blatter seeks Caribbean reform

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, has invited Caribbean football leaders to Zurich next month to help rebuild relations after the region's reputation was wrecked by a bribery scandal sparked by their own colleagues.

Caribbean football has seen its top three elected officials – Jack Warner, Lisle Austin and Horace Burrell – either resign while under investigation or be banned by Fifa since the corruption case emerged in May.

Fifa has banned 11 Caribbean officials for up to 26 months, reprimanded five more and warned six after allegations they were involved in $40,000 cash bribes being offered by former presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam.

Six officials, including Warner – the former Fifa vice president and Caribbean Football Union president – evaded justice by resigning all of their football positions.

The explosive scandal began when officials from four Caribbean islands turned whistleblower to alert Fifa to alleged corruption.

Fifa said yesterday that Blatter will host the Caribbean delegation next month to "help the member associations to get back on track."

A statement read: "The CFU presidents will be invited... for an informal meeting with the Fifa president aimed at sorting out the issues and try to reconcile them."

The reconciliation talks are likely to happen before the 30-nation CFU bloc can elect a new leader to replace Warner, who retained his position as a Trinidad & Tobago government minister. The poll winner will be a strong contender to replace Warner on the 24-man Fifa executive committee as the Caribbean delegate.

Burrell, from Jamaica, hoped to be a candidate but is banned by Fifa until January, while Austin, a long-time Warner ally from Barbados, was prevented from succeeding his mentor when Fifa banned him for one year.