Concacaf presidential candidates come out of (clean) closet -- finally

Concacaf has not had much luck with its presidents.

In the last five years, it has had four presidents. Three have been indicted on Federal corruption charges -- Jack Warner, Jeffrey Webb and Alfredo Hawit -- and the fourth, Lisle Austin, lasted all of four days as interim president before he was ousted for trying to get Chuck Blazer, then secretary general, fired, and later banned by FIFA from soccer for taking his case to courts in his native Barbados.

After Hawit was arrested in December, Concacaf did the smart thing and left the position of president vacant until its next Congress, which will take place in Mexico City on Thursday.

Two men are competing for the job: Vancouver insurance man Victor Montagliani, the president of the Canadian Soccer Association, and Bermudan prosecutor Larry Mussenden.

"They seem to be coming out of a clean closet," Concacaf vice president Horace Burrell told the Associated Press. That's quite an endorsement from a man with a dubious past.

Burrell would have been in line himself to replace Webb in May 2015 as the vice president with the most seniority, but his stint on the Concacaf executive committee was interrupted by a six-month ban from soccer (with three months suspended) for his role in the Caribbean Football Union bribe scandal that brought down Warner and Mohammed Bin Hammam in 2011 and was the seminal event in the FIFA scandals. (According to the authors of American Huckster, Blazer became an FBI informant after Austin, wishing to take down Blazer, who reported the CFU bribes to FIFA, uncovered documents about Blazer's compensation that was unreported to the IRS.)

It's only a two-person race because Antiguan Gordon  Derrick, the president of the CFU, failed a FIFA integrity check and was prevented from running for Concacaf president. Both Montagliani and Mussenden, however, have solid records.

Montagliani was a member of the FIFA reform committee that formalized the  reforms approved in February and has worked closely with U.S. Soccer president and FIFA council member Sunil Gulati on keeping Concacaf afloat during the crises of the last year.

Mussenden worked in Bermuda's attorney general office and is its director of public prosecutions. "Law and order is part of my thing," he told the Associated Press. "I think that is a skill set I can bring to Concacaf."

If Derrick had been allowed to run, he would have been hard to beat with his base of support from the CFU, which has 31 of the 41 Concacaf members.

Montagliani has the backing of the three North American members -- USA, Mexico and Canada -- seven Uncaf (Central American) associations and four from the Caribbean (Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic). That gives him a head start on Mussenden, who is counting on getting the support of many small islands similar to Bermuda.

Like in the FIFA presidential election that propelled Gianni Infantino to power, Gulati could play a decisive role. When he was elected to the FIFA executive committee in 2013 in an 18-17 vote over Mexican Compean, Gulati won despite losing the votes of Mexico, all seven Uncaf members and the four Caribbean members who have come out in favor of Montagliani. Gulati's support was in the English-speaking Caribbean that will decide Thursday's election.
Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications