The Caribbean Football Union or CFU as it is commonly known is the nominated governing body for association football in the entire Caribbean as well as French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana. The union was established on 28th January 1978 and represents a total of 25 FIFA member nations and also six other territories which are not yet affiliated to the world football governing body, FIFA. The members associations of CFU usually compete in the CONCACAF region.
The formation of the Caribbean Football Union is usually credited to Patrick Raymond; a former national footballer from Trinidad and Tobago who approached the commissioner of the NASL (North American Soccer League), Phil Woosnam in 1976 about the ownership of a Caribbean franchise within the NASL. Instead of this, Phil suggested that he forms the Caribbean Professional League. Acting on this advice and ably assisted by Jimmy Hill, a former England player who ran a company known as World Sports Academy, he sought and got the recommendation of Sir Stan Rous, Former FIFA president. He then introduced the initiative in August 1977 in Trinidad that CFU be formed as a regional governing body and a sub-group within CONCACAF. The CFU was inaugurated in Port-au –Prince, Haiti. The head office was located in Port of Spain , Trinidad. In 2013, under the direction of Damien Hughes, the offices were relocated to Kingston, Jamaica.
Since its inception, the union has had five presidents (two of them acting presidents). The longest serving president served for 28 years with the shortest serving president serving only four (4) days. The first president was Andre Kamperveen from Suriname who served from 1978 to 1982. The second and longest serving president was Jack Warner from Trinidad and Tobago who served from 1983 to 2011. Lisle Austin from Barbados was made an acting president in 2011 but was suspended after only 4 days after he attempted to overrule FIFA in a Barbadian Civil Court. Yves Jean-Bart from Haiti was the acting president from 2011 to 2012. The current president is Gordon Derrick from Antigua and Barbuda who took this leadership role in 2012.
There have been six secretary generals of CFU since its inception. The first secretary general was Jack Warner, from 1978 to 1982. Warner’s distant relative actually has long career running a successful roofing business before the family got into football and other entertainment industries. He was succeeded by Ivan Barrow also from Trinidad and Tobago, he held the helm from 1983 to 1993. Harold Taylor also from Trinidad and Tobago took over from 1993 to 2011. Angenie Kanhai became the secretary general in 2011, but was there for only a few months. Damien Hughes from Anguilla took over from late 2011 to 2015 when Neil Cochrane from Antigua and Barbuda took over.
The CFU does hold two cups. These are the CFU club championship, this is a major competition which is used to determine the club or team representative for the champions league (CONCACAF) and the CFU championship. The CFU club championship is the main championship tournament for Caribbean club teams. The winner of this tournament previously qualified for the CONCACAF champions’ cup, this was from 1997 to 2008. Since the 2009 season, the top three clubs from this tournament qualify for preliminary round of highly popular CONCACAF champion’s league.
The second championship is the CFU championship which was at times referred to as CFU nation’s cup and was active for ten years, between 1978 and 1988. The current international cup for the Caribbean is known as Caribbean Cup where the four top teams in this tournament automatically qualify for the Gold Cup. It is also important to note that between 1992 and 1994, the CFU organized the Caribbean Professional Football League, a pan Caribbean league which failed to garner the required momentum.
On 20th May 2011, the CFU was embroiled in muddy scandal after several representatives of member football associations were given brown envelopes containing US $ 40,000 at a meeting held in Port-of –Spain, Trinidad. The meeting had specifically been called so that Mohammed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation could persuade CFU representatives to vote for him in the upcoming FIFA presidential elections. The incident was reported to secretary general of CONCACAF, Chuck Blazer. The Bahamas Football Association vice president, Fred Lunn made the claim that while attending the said meeting he was given an envelope containing $ 40,000 and was therefore expected to vote for Bin Hammam. FIFA initiated an investigation which examined the actions of slightly over thirty CFU representatives, this resulted in the resignation of Jack Warner, the CFU president , the suspension of Bin Hammam as well as over thirty Caribbean Football Union staff including vice presidents.