Victor Montagliani, the Canada Soccer Association (CSA) president, was today elected CONCACAF president at the football confederation’s 31st ordinary congress in Mexico City, Mexico.
Montagliani comfortably defeated Bermuda Football Association (BFA) president Larry Mussenden 25-16 in an election that saw Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Gordon Derrick controversially debarred from participating.
The result marks the first time that a non-Caribbean official was elected as CONCACAF president since Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner ousted Mexico’s Joaquin Terrazas in 1990.
Warner’s compatriot, Joanne Salazar, also stood for a CONCACAF position today—barely six months into her stint as Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president—but was soundly beaten 27-8 by Turks and Caicos Island’s Sonia Bien-Aime for the post of Female Member, which carries an automatic FIFA appointment.
Salazar, who was an unknown in local football circles before she rode to prominence with current local president David John-Williams, was always a long shot. Montagliani’s rise to power was of far greater significance.
The Canadian, who speaks English, Spanish, French and Italian, was openly supported by all 10 Central and North American nations as well as Haiti and all three Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations: Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Today, Montagliani grabbed another 11 votes. It is likely there was a split along language and cultural lines.
The Caribbean’s 31 nations in CONCACAF are divided into 18 English-speaking islands and five French, five Dutch and three Spanish-speaking nations respectively.
Mussenden, a former Attorney General in Bermuda, would have won easily if he could have united the Caribbean. But Montagliani proved irresistible to French, Dutch and Spanish speaking islanders as well as at least two of the English-speaking Caribbean nations.
“The walls are down,” said Montagliani, after his rise to top post. “It’s time to come together as one CONCACAF.”
In truth, Montagliani, who backed current FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the 26 February 2016 election in Zurich, owed much to the exclusion of CFU president Derrick, who was banned from taking part by FIFA due to his alleged role in the Mohamed Bin Hammam 2011 bribery scandal.
Derrick was reprimanded and received a 300 Swiss franc (TT$2,057) fine, in the aftermath of the controversial episode which led to Warner’s expulsion.
Paradoxically, Jamaica’s Horace Burrell received a six-month by FIFA for his own part in the bribery scandal, yet remains an executive CONCACAF member while Derrick was not allowed to contest the head position.
Burrell remains a CONCACAF executive member alongside Mexico’s Justin Compean, Panama’s Pedro Chaluja, Cuba’s Luis Hernandez and the United States’ Sunil Gulati.
(Today’s CONCACAF election results)
CONCACAF president: Victor Montagliani (Canada)
Vice-President—Central America (UNCAF): Rodolfo Villalobos (Costa Rica)
Caribbean (CFU): Luis Hernandez (Cuba)
Central America (UNCAF): Pedro Chaluja (Panama)
Female: Sonia Bien-Aime (Turks and Caicos)