- Scotiabank's $20 million deal is Concacaf's only agreement
- Last three Concacaf presidents charged in soccer indictment
The Bank of Nova Scotia has threatened to pull its sponsorship of the association responsible for soccer in the Caribbean, North America, and Central America if the soccer leaders fail to pass a slate of governance reforms on Feb. 25.
The Canadian bank, commonly known as Scotiabank, signed a four-year, $20 million deal with Concacaf in December 2014, five months before the organization’s president and other officials were named in the U.S. Department of Justice’s sprawling indictment that alleged over two decades of corruption in global soccer.
There is a “reputation clause” in the deal that gives Scotiabank the right to walk away from the sponsorship, and it wouldn’t hesitate to do so, said John Doig, the bank’s chief marketing officer, in a phone interview. The reform package needs 31 out of 41 votes to pass.
“The time is now for Concacaf to make those changes,” he said. “I can’t believe their membership wouldn’t want to move in that direction.”
Doig was on business in Lima, Peru, when he received a call at 4:30 a.m. telling him that Concacaf’s then-president Jeffrey Webb was among FIFA officials arrested at a luxury Zurich hotel on May 27. Webb has since pleaded guilty to charges, including racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies. His successor Alfredo Hawit was arrested in a second wave of arrests six months later. He has pleaded not guilty.
Concacaf hired top Chicago law firm Sidley Austin LLP and consulting group Alvarez & Marsal to handle the fallout, a move that Doig said gave the bank “comfort and satisfied us that we could continue on with the sponsorship.”
Scotiabank has kept its distance from some of Concacaf’s remaining officials, Doig said. It deals primarily with the outside consultants and deputy secretary general Jurgen Mainka. “There’s a contingent of officials that are connected with the previous management and we’ve chosen not to interact with them,” said Doig. “We are dealing with the folks who putting together the proposals and the new reforms structure.”
Sidley Austin is still conducting its internal investigation of Concacaf. The group has so far found several acts of misconduct by the organization led by Webb, said Sidley partner Samir Gandhi, who has helped draw up a good governance package that includes term limits for senior officials and independent audit and compliance measures to ensure a series of checks and balances.
“If you don’t change the structure, behavior and culture of the organization so that somebody can’t come in and use the organization as a means for criminality, then I think the organization is in trouble,” Gandhi said by phone.
Webb became president in 2012 after another Concacaf leader resigned in a separate scandal. He touted his credentials as a reformer, and on the day the deal with Scotiabank was signed, Webb said, “Scotiabank is built in trust and integrity and transparency. The new Concacaf is built on trust and transparency and a commitment to developing and empowering football through the confederation.”
Doig and Webb rang the bell at the Mexico stock exchange on Dec. 9, 2014, in a ceremony to announce the sponsorship. Aaron Davidson, the Traffic Sports USA executive who brokered the partnership, stood beside them, grinning and punching the air. Davidson has pleaded not guilty to a similar slate of charges.
“I guess in the early days we were misled,” Doig said.