BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – CONCACAF chief Victor Montagliani believes the embattled organisation has turned the page on the corruption scandals of the past through a strong collective effort by regional associations, and says the focus will remain on uniting the confederation.
Speaking here at the opening of the FIFA Caribbean Development Office, the Canadian told reporters that the 41 member organisations which constituted the continental governing body, had managed to make progress by prioritizing football.
“The truth be told that (corruption scandal) was a long time ago and in football two years is a long time and at the end of the day, it really wasn’t up to FIFA to bring respectability back to region, it was up to the region to bring respectability back to the region,” said Montagliani.
“And I think we have done that through CONCACAF and through our member associations, and if you’ve seen the work that is being done by the 41-member associations in CONCACAF, starting with your own president (Randy Harris) here in Barbados, he has been putting football first.”
Montagliani was elected president of CONCACAF – the governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean – a year following the explosive corruption scandal which led to the toppling of the previous head of the confederation Jeffrey Webb.
In 2015, the charismatic Cayman Islander, also a FIFA vice-president, was among several former and then current football officials indicted by the United States Department of Justice on racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.
Webb subsequently pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy, and is currently awaiting sentencing.
That followed the infamous cash-for-votes scandal of 2011 which also led to the resignation of then FIFA strongman and CONCACAF president Jack Warner, and the election of Webb.
FIFA general secretary, Fatma Samoura, said transparency and accountability were now the focal points of global football administration, especially under FIFA’s ambitious new roadmap, FIFA 2.0.
“We have learnt lessons from the past and as part of the FIFA region 2.0, we are very serious when it comes to accounting for every single cent that is spent under the forward programme,” Samoura said.
“As a matter of fact, we have expanded to the 211 member associations, the center review. Before the new leadership of FIFA, there was hardly 40 per cent of the member associations that were browsing systematically through a center review.
“Today a hundred per cent of the member associations receive on a yearly basis, a report from the audit, giving information on how the money is used.”
She added: “Our compliance division, which is also something new in FIFA to enhance the compliance law list reaching our entire region and the Caribbean region, is not an exception.
“Capacity building is also something that we have built within the FIFA forward programme and every single member association has the responsibility to acquire specific training to improve accountability within the administration but also transparency as far as the use of funding is concerned.”
Under Montagliani’s One CONCACAF Vision, the confederation has sought to strengthen its structures, and he pointed out that all initiatives were now geared towards uniting the bloc of nations.
“No longer do we work in silos (isolation) of the Caribbean, in silos with Central America, in silos with North America,” Montagliani stressed.
“It is one region and the combination of that philosophy was the launch of our Nations League which starts in September, where everybody will be competing against everybody and at the end of the day, that’s what football is all about.
“Football is about the ability to unite cultures and unite people, it is not just about a region in itself and the region will compete amongst each other and we will compete internationally.”