Canada's Victor Montagliani seeks CONCACAF presidency
Canada interested in being involved in bid for 2026 World Cup
Victor Montagliani, head of the Canadian Soccer Association, looks to cement a position in world soccer's inner circle Thursday by winning the CONCACAF presidential election and ending the region's recent history of scandal.
Montagliani is running against Bermuda Football Association president Larry Mussenden to oversee the confederation which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. Montagliani's platform promises include a "collaborative strategy" to bring the 2026 World Cup to CONCACAF with Canada having already indicated it will put up its hand.
"It's still the case that we're very much interested in bidding," Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, said Wednesday.
The CONCACAF presidential vote is being held in Mexico City ahead of Friday's start of the FIFA Congress.
FIFA removed Gordon Derrick, general secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association, from the election field saying he had failed an integrity check. It did not disclose details. CONCACAF's president is automatically a FIFA vice-president and member of FIFA's ruling executive committee, which is being renamed the FIFA council.
Montagliani, recently acclaimed to a second four-year term as CSA president, has been prominent in FIFA recently. He was heavily involved in CONCACAF reforms that were unanimously passed by its 41 members. Montagliani, a member of the FIFA Reform Committee, also presented a package of FIFA reforms to the full Congress.
The 50-year-old B.C. native is already on the same page as FIFA president Gianni Infantino, whom Canada backed in February's election. The former UEFA administrator ran on a platform that includes expanding the World Cup field by eight countries to 40 and allowing regions to share World Cup hosting duties.
The FIFA council made reference to that Monday when it released its four-phased bidding process for the 2026 World Cup, saying the "eligibility of confederations to bid" should be made public in October 2016 when there will also be a decision on the number of teams and format.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil featured 32 teams. Expanding the field might lend itself to bringing more countries on board to host.
The council also said there would be a review of "the current stance on joint bids."
Canada keen on 2026 World Cup bid
Montopoli said he hopes to hear more on the bidding process Friday at the FIFA Congress. A decision on the 2026 World Cup host is expected in May 2020.
Montopoli notes that Canada has hosted every major FIFA championship except the men's World Cup and is coming off successfully staging the women's world championship last summer.
"Now we want to take a serious look at the next opportunity which is the men's World Cup."
Canada is open to a joint hosting bid, Montopoli said.
As to the issue of playing surface, given Canada's controversial choice of an artificial surface for the Women's World Cup, Montopoli referred to FIFA's determination that all stadiums for the women's tournament have the same playing surface.
"I can't answer that today on behalf of our association, if there is a mutual bid with other countries and other stadiums," he said of the possible surface that would be part of a Canadian bid.
More information will likely come from FIFA during the bidding process.
Montopoli says Canada hosting a men's World Cup is a "natural evolution." On the women's side of the game, Canada has done everything aside from having a team in the NWSL which he says the CSA is working on.
CONCACAF's recent scandals
CONCACAF, meanwhile, is looking to leave a scandal-ridden past behind it.
"Obviously we have to get our house in order," Montagliani said in February.
Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, president from 1983 to 2011, was indicated by a U.S. grand jury in New York City last May on charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and money-laundering. He is fighting extradition.
Jeffrey Webb, his successor, ran CONCACAF from 2012 until he was indicted last May. He pleaded guilty in November to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, and agreed to forfeit more than US$6.7 million.
Honduras' Alfredo Hawit, who replaced Webb, was indicted in November. He pleaded guilty last month to two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and one count each of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct justice.