If Montagliani succeeds in presidential bid, it would continue CONCACAF’s Canadian shift By Steven Sandor Posted on February 8, 2016 1 0 775 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Victor Montagliani It could be a groan-inducing grade-school-level joke. How can Victor Montagliani be the best president CONCACAF has ever had? By not getting arrested. On Monday, Montagliani confirmed what had been rumoured ever since the most recent CONCACAF president, Alfredo Hawit left the job in handcuffs. Hawit’s alleged actions followed CONCACAF presidents Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner, who have been charged with so many bribery and fraud counts that “alleged” could be their middle names. But, if Montagliani was to win the presidency — and his candidacy is backed by the Canadian Soccer Association — it would only grow to this country’s efforts to grow its presence in the region. Canada’s Sonia Denoncourt had been charged with helping improve the standard of CONCACAF refereeing; some cynics would say she had been in charge of actually creating a standard for CONCACAF refs (for more on Denoncourt, see the current issue of Plastic Pitch; details below). But Denoncourt and CONCACAF parted ways in mid-January. Scotiabank has taken over as the title sponsor of the CONCACAF Champions League. The CSA released a statement Monday saying it backed Montagliani’s bid. “The Canadian Soccer Association Board of Directors fully supports Canada Soccer President, Victor Montagliani, in his candidacy for CONCACAF President. President Montagliani has been instrumental in building a leading soccer nation for our country and we look forward to the potential for him to have the same impact on the international stage.” Currently, the CONCACAF rules allow for someone to be both president of the organization and be the head of his or her national federation. So, as it stands, Montagliani could serve as both the CSA president and hold the CONCACAF office a well. CSA President Victor Montagliani with Canadian women’s national team defender Emily Zurrer at a jersey unveiling event earlier this year. But sources in the CSA said that upcoming CONCACAF reforms may change this policy. So, when it comes to the question of whether Montagliani can hold both jobs at the same time — the answer is a solid maybe. Montagliani is serving on FIFA’s 13-member reform committee. “I think we have found a balance,” he said of the reform committee’s work (CLICK HERE). “In football, success is all about finding balance, whether its on the field or off the field.” Last May, he broke with what had been CSA tradition of supporting corruption-plagued then-president Sepp Blatter. As Canada had benefited greatly from FIFA in the past (earning the right to host the 2007 U-20 World Cup, the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup and 2015 Women’s World Cup), our national association had been unapologetic supporters of the FIFA old guard. And, with FIFA nudging Canada to bid for the 2026 World Cup — and Montagliani declaring this country’s intent to do just that — the bonds looked to be deep. But Montagliani went public in his opposition to Blatter in 2015 saying that it was the right thing to vote against the old guard; and he did so despite knowing that it was that very same old guard which had served Canada so well. Montagliani has also been clear about the need for Canada to have its own “Division 1A” and has been clear that we must do better to create job opportunities for Canadian players, coaches and management staff. And, when he came in as president in 2012, he has worked to rebuild what was basically a broken relationship with the United States Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer. “Until two to three years ago, the relationship was non-existent,” Montagliani said last year (Plastic Pitch, Issue 5, CLICK HERE). “Basically, we were a foregone conclusion to our friends from the south. But we have strengthened our relationship, first with the USSF, and now we have better relationships at the MLS level, and the NASL level. Our relationships are improving but, remember, it’s been just two or three years.” He has been vocal in his criticisms of the MLS/NASL policy where Canadian players are treated as domestics on Canadian teams but are considered foreigners on American teams, while Americans are treated as domestics on both Canadian and American teams. He has said that the CSA’s experts disagree with the MLS assertion that it’s a labour-law issue. Since coming as president in 2012, Montagliani has been vocal about Canada’s interests in the global game. But, compared to dealing with Canadian Soccer Association affairs, cleaning up CONCACAF is a mountain. Hey, maybe it’s time to move the CONCACAF offices to Ottawa. Or Yellowknife.