Canadian Elected President of Corruption-Scarred Soccer Body

  • Montagliani wins vote of 41-member Concacaf region in Mexico
  • Last three Concacaf presidents charged in U.S. graft probe

The soccer body responsible for soccer in Central and North America elected Canada’s Victor Montagliani as its new president following an unprecedented period of crisis that saw three former leaders charged in the U.S.’s corruption probe into the sport.

Montagliani beat Larry Mussenden of Bermuda 25-16 in a vote of the Concacaf regional body in Mexico City. The group has been trying to recover after being one of the worst affected by a U.S. justice department probe which has so far led to charges filed against more than 40 officials from around the world. Two of the biggest names to have fallen are Concacaf’s former presidents Jeffrey Webb and his replacement Alfredo Hawit.

The new leader is tasked with restoring credibility to an organization that’s been battered by disclosures of malfeasance and corruption linked to the sale of lucrative television and marketing rights. The body in February passed reforms aimed at preventing its current leaders from being able to repeat the behavior of their predecessors.

The build up to the vote was dominated by talk of whether Concacaf’s most-populated sub region -- the Caribbean Football Union -- would vote as a bloc as it had done in previous elections. Gordon Derrick of Antigua, who had built a support base in the region, was disqualified from running after failing an integrity check. That left Mussenden, the attorney general for Bermuda, and businessman Montagliani in a two-man race.

Both candidates focused on financial support for their members and promised to restore credibility, a similar platform to one that saw Gianni Infantino elected to the FIFA presidency earlier this year.

Concacaf has been run by outside lawyers and consultants since June, at a cost of more than $8 million to date. The governing body suffered several financial blows since Webb’s arrest in May, including being told by its banks to find new partners and have $10 million in development grants frozen by FIFA.

As well as insuring the group’s reform framework goes to plan, the new president will oversee the final preparations for June’s Copa America Centenario - a one of event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of South America’s national team event.

The 16-team competition is the biggest soccer tournament to take place in the U.S. since the 1994 World Cup. The tournament had been in doubt after the U.S. disclosed millions of dollars in bribes were paid to leaders from South American body Conmebol and Concacaf by marketing companies in return for rights.

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