Asked whether he had paid a bribe to FIFA so Canada could host the women’s world cup tournament, Montagliani replied: “Absolutely not.”
–Reuters, June 4, 2015.
You’d think Victor Montagliani, the Canadian Soccer Association’s chief ball-washer, would still be basking in the afterglow of hosting this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
But nooooo. It’s soiled undersilks all ‘round at his Metcalfe Street bunker as top FIFA officials sing to the cops about allegations of kickbacks, match-fixing and other beautiful games.
Seems it was only last year (it was!!—ed.) Montagliani was profiled in Business in Vancouver magazine, pronouncing his “inspirations” in the soccer world to be none other than Jeffrey Webb and Jérôme Valcke.
A more unashamed braunnose of his bosses would be difficult to imagine. The Canadian Soccer Association is part of a continent-wide confederation (CONCACAF) and Webb was its president. Valcke is second-in-command at FIFA, the world organization that runs soccer and controls CONCACAF.
A happy reunion, then, at the April 28 Sports Integrity Conference, a vital meeting about protecting the integrity of Canadian soccer from the epidemic of match fixing that has ruined the sport around the world. Dozens of countries have had major police investigations with arrests and convictions.
In Canada, however, the uncharitable suggest Montagliani has done little except to run off to FIFA headquarters in Zurich to get his marching orders and talking points.
The man the CSA chose to address a breathless public after the “integrity” shindig was one other than Vic’s inspiration, Jeffrey Webb.
Webb never made the CSA meeting, but his PR folderol was read into the minutes: “Protecting the integrity in football remains one of CONCACAF’s top priorities. Part of our focus to ensure a coordinated strategy for the future is to continue to work together with our Member Associations as well as our partners, FIFA and INTERP–(that’s enough drivel!—ed.)
At the end of the meeting, despite confidential investigators’ reports on the wide-scale match-fixing in Canada, Canadian officials agreed that really nothing could be done, but they would ask their bosses to draft some legislation and everyone would give the issue a real good study.
This Canadian narcolepsy was a mystery to foreign observers. After all, the German police have already arrested many of the people who fixed matches in Canada. For the price of a plane ticket they could get all their information and start making arrests.
Worse was to come.
Four weeks after the meeting to protect the integrity of Canadian soccer, the Swiss police, at the behest of the FBI, launched a dawn raid in a five-star hotel in Zurich and arrested a number of high-profile international soccer executives, including none other than Jeffrey Webb.
The “inspiring” Webb features prominently in the 164-page indictment released after the arrests by U.S. Attorney-General Loretta Lynch. According to the U.S. authorities and the 25 “co-conspirators” who testified before a grand jury revealing bank account numbers and detailed financial transactions, Webb and his associates managed to steal tens of millions of dollars from various CONCACAF contracts.
The scale of the alleged corruption is staggering, no mere skimming off the top, but serious percentages of each marketing and rights contract. Quite how these massive cash disappearances could have escaped the notice of anyone connected with CONCACAF is a mystery for the ages.
After the arrests, Montagliani’s other inspiration, FIFA second-in-command Valcke, suddenly discovered that he had “critical business in Zurich,” which meant that he couldn’t travel to Canada for the women’s World Cup finals.
Shurely of no bearing on Valcke’s no-show were fears that if the FBI wanted to arrest him, Canadian officials would have handed him over with greater alacrity than even the Swiss police.
Valcke was not the only senior FIFA official who discovered an embarrassing last-minute glitch in his travel plans. FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter announced that he too had “critical business” and, for the first time in the history of the tournament the president did not attend the final game.
The corruption contretemps led to the embarrassing scenes at the end of the World Cup, with some of the American team publicly protesting against the FIFA officials.
But now that bad old Blatter’s resigned, a clean sweep of international soccer is in the offing, thanks to the fun FIFA Reform Committee. Among the crusading reformers appointed to this august body…step forward, Victor Montagliani!