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Football
Warner 'tsunami' held back as Gold Cup opens
Suspended CONCACAF president 'respects legal advice' over revealing Blatter emails as Gold Cup experiences goal rush.
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2011 07:36
Hernandez scores from the spot as the defending champions enjoy a resounding opening win [GALLO/GETTY]

The beleaguered governing body for football in North and Central America and the Caribbean opened it's premier tournament, the Gold Cup, with a flurry of goals and a bumper crowd.

After a week which saw CONCACAF suspend two presidents and dispute the appointment of a third, Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez scored a hat-trick for Mexico in their 5-0 hammering of El Salvador in front of 81,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

Costa Rica had opened the competition by beating Cuba with an identical scoreline.
 
It was a hugely entertaining start to a tournament which had looked as though it could be overshadowed by the continuing disputes and scandals that have engulfed CONCACAF and world governing body FIFA this week.

CONCACAF's suspended president Jack Warner, facing charges from FIFA's ethics committee had been poised to grab the attention on the first day of the 12-nation competition by releasing emails containing discussions with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
 
Warner had promised a "football tsunami" to continue a remarkable week but when he turned up for a rally in his provincial constituency in Trinidad, he barely created a ripple with his announcement that lawyers had advised him against releasing the emails.

Warner rally
 
"I had plans to speak to you today a bit more on this matter but the best legal advice I received has suggested that I do not do so at this point in time, and that advice I am going to respect," Warner, who is Trinidad's Minister of Works and Transport, told supporters from his political party at the rally.
 
Warner has been suspended pending a full investigation by FIFA into allegations that bribery took place at a meeting he organised with Asian Football Confederation head Mohammed Bin Hammam, who is also suspended.
 

"I haven't thieved anything, I haven't given anybody anything and I don't know what the hullabaloo is all about"

Jack Warner, suspended CONCACAF president

The meeting in Trinidad involving Bin Hammam was related to the Qatari's since-abandoned presidential election campaign against Blatter.

Both have denied any wrongdoing at the gathering.

"I haven't thieved anything, I haven't given anybody anything and I don't know what the hullabaloo is all about," Warner said.
 
The man who reported Warner and Bin Hammam to FIFA which sparking the dramatic events of the past week, American Chuck Blazer, was at the opening game in Dallas and also opted against adding fuel to the fire.

Speaking to reporters, the CONCACAF general secretary said he would not discuss the specifics of the investigation into Warner and Bin Hammam nor the continuing power-struggle within the body.
 
Instead he said that the fact that the Gold Cup was underway was proof that his organisation was functioning.

"I can assure that things are normal, that it is business as usual. This is very much the Cup that you have seen before and the Cup you will see in the future and everything is being done by the direction of the executive committee and I am in place as the general secretary," he said.

Blazer had been 'fired' earlier in the week by CONCACAF's then-interim president Lisle Austin but won the support of a majority of the organisation's executive committee and on Friday moved to suspend Barbadian Austin.

Necessary steps

Blazer declined to discuss the reasons behind Austin's suspension but said fans in the region would see that the past week was about taking necessary steps.

"I think (the fans) can have confidence in the future because this is a major effort to do things in the right way and if we accomplish that by the end of this entire process, we will have done a lot of good and for the right reasons," he said.

While there were few fireworks off the field, the players delivered on it with Marco Urena scoring twice for Costa Rica as they crushed Cuba 5-0 and then Hernandez enjoyed a treble as defending champions Mexico got their campaign underway in style.
 
Football fans in North America needed a boost after a week in which their confederation risked becoming a laughing stock and the sight of a talented 23-year-old forward celebrating his goals in front of 80,000 cheering supporters was the perfect antidote to the scandal.

The venue for the NFL Super Bowl in February was transformed into a transplanted Azteca Stadium for the evening and no-one enjoyed it more than the player they call 'Chicharito'.

"Its unbelievable the support that we have from Mexicans who live here," Hernandez said, just over a week after being on the losing side against Barcelona in the European Champions League final. 

"You can see it here - 80,000 people and most of them in green shirts – it means a lot to us."

Source:
Reuters
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