Canada’s anti-Blatter vote may be the most significant of them all By Steven Sandor Posted on May 28, 2015 4 0 763 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Victor Montagliani Canada is not a global soccer power. But, during his reign as president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter has made the Canadian Soccer Association one of his favourite federations. Blatter has been an enthusiastic Canada backer. Canada has earned the right to host many prestigious tournaments over the past 13 years. The Women’s U-19s. The Men’s U-20s. The Women’s U20s and, starting in just two weeks, the Women’s World Cup. A cynic will point out that Canada was acclaimed as the Women’s World Cup host; but remember that FIFA sent out a strong message that no other nation need apply. And, with the blessing of FIFA, Canada is the first one in the pool with a 2026 World Cup bid. This is what makes the CSA’s decision to back Blatter’s presidential-race opponent, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, one of the most significant public declarations made by any national association ahead of Friday’s FIFA vote. The Americans, led by United States Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, have been lobbying hard in Switzerland on the Jordanian’s behalf — even before the Swiss police swept through a posh hotel and arrested a series of FIFA officials on racketeering and fraud charges. Canada, hasn’t always had the friendliest relationship with the USSF — they are partners in many regards, including a shared professional pyramid, but aren’t exactly allies. For Canada, this is a case of doing what’s good for soccer over pragmatism. To be frank, it’s in Canada’s best interest that Blatter remain; he’s been a big backer of this country. And, CSA president Victor Montagliani has been lobbying hard for 2026 with Blatter and the old guard. And, if Blatter remains in power, chances are less countries would want to challenge the Canadians. They would rightly be suspicious of the bidding process in the wake of the votes to award the 2018 and 2022 tourneys. If the Prince wins on Friday, we may see some regime change in short order — and a lot of the people who had Canada 2026 on their minds may no longer be in power. Canada could actually help undo some of what it had set out to do by announcing its 2026 bid so early on. “We are not playing poker here,” Montagliani told me last summer (in an interview featured in Plastic Pitch No. 2, the issue we dedicated to Canada’s World Cup bid). “There is no harm in telling the world that we are ready for these kind of challenges. And I have to say that, in my travels, I have received nothing but positive feedback.” When Blatter was in Canada for last year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup, he said “it’s time” for Canada to host the World Cup. But, if Blatter wins on Friday, Canada is still in a bad position; we are no longer among his pack of reliable boy scouts. And, of course, that also impacts a bid. And the goodwill between Canada and the FIFA hierarchy — standing together on the use of artificial turf, for example — will be damaged. For Canada, there is more at risk than arguably any of the 209 confederations in FIFA in the vote. And that’s why Montagliani’s public declaration of support for the reformer is one of the most significant events to come to pass since Tuesday’s series of arrests.