Lisle Austin, who is a former vice president of CONCACAF, took his federation to court in The Bahamas after being dismissed from his position and Donovan mentioned “to only get one year is a slap on the wrist”.
“Austin has done exactly the same thing as did former General Secretary of the Barbados Football Association (BFA), Randy Harris, who took his association to court.”
Harris eventually got four years.
The FIFA statues clearly state that a member cannot take another member or an association to court for whatever reason and if this is done that person will be suspended forthwith.
“It does not state for what reason or for what length of time, it just states going to court and this is why this decision is totally mind-boggling.”
Harris was at that time a president of a local amateur club, while Austin was a vice president of one of the biggest footballing bodies in the world.
The Disciplinary Committee also decided that should Lisle Austin not withdraw the claim lodged in front of the ordinary courts in The Bahamas definitively and irrevocably, he will remain banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level, in accordance with Article 22 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, for as long as the legal proceedings in ordinary courts are pursued. However, the ban of one year is to be served independently from such possible withdrawal.
Donovan added that, “While Austin would have received financial remuneration for his work and travels throughout the world, Harris on the other hand was totally an amateur administrator who did what he did for the love of the game.
“The situation is so farcical that since the banning of Jack Warner, Austin has publicly campaigned for his position as chief of CONCACAF; this is another example of FIFA poor decision making. It was this same Austin who was calling for a forensic audit of the CONCACAF finances, forgetting that he was a member of this same organisation for over a decade.”
This disciplinary action against Austin brings about the worst ever chapter in Caribbean football, where two regional officials have embarrassed the entire region.
Austin had been provisionally suspended by the chairman of the Disciplinary Committee on July 4, 2011, the date from which the one-year suspension will start to be counted.
Donovan believes this decision by FIFA, “just shows that this organisation is totally out of sync with the real world”.
In response to the news of Austin’s ban, current BFA General Secretary, David Hinds, released the following:
“The Barbados Football Association (BFA) has been made aware of the one-year suspension of Lisle B. Austin from participating in any football-related activities. The BFA sees this saga as highly unfortunate and looks forward to a resolution of all of the challenges facing Caribbean football.
“Mr. Lisle Austin has served football for over three and a half decades with courage, dignity and fair play. It is hoped that his considerable talent will not be forever lost to the game.”