After all the confusion and corruption, CONCACAF is back in business – almost.
The three past presidents of world football’s central and north American region are all at different stages in the United States authorities’ FIFAGate case, FIFA is starting to undo the purse strings and a new marketing deal has been agreed.
Also, today in Mexico City, member federations will elect a new president who can bring CONCACAF back from the dark side represented by Trinidad’s Jack Warner, Cayman Islander Jeffrey Webb and Honduran Alfredo Hawitt. Going head to head are Canada’s Victor Montagliani and Bermuda’s Larry Mussenden.
The return from purdah is timely since CONCACAF plays host to the world federation’s second congress of the year tomorrow here in Mexico City. Congress No1 was the fevered occasion in Zurich on February 28 which saw Gianni Infantino ushered in as president in place of disgraced Sepp Blatter and the 209 national associations dragged, kicking and screaming in some cases, down the road to reform.
This officially-designated ordinary congress is also the first occasion for leaders of the world game to consider the ramifications of the definite enforced departure from the scene of Michel Platini, banned from football for dipping a hand too far into a till which was not his.
On the overall financial front, FIFA last year halted its annual development payments to CONCACAF – as well as to South American governing body CONMEBOL – in an effort to gain tighter auditory controls over how its handouts were being used. Assurances have been received, albeit from a confederation being run only by an emergency steering committee.
A FIFA statement said: “The audit and compliance committee has acknowledged the measures taken by CONCACAF and has agreed to lift the suspension of the frozen funds. However, [this] is still subject to the fulfilment of requirements cited in the FIFA development regulations.”
This means that $10m is being held back to encourage good behaviour.
As for similarly-affected CONMEBOL, FIFA will undertake further audits in the next fortnight before deciding whether to release cash.
The deal, which runs for five and a half years, will see the commercial arm of Major League Soccer (MLS) handle the confederation’s global sponsorship rights until the end of 2021.
On the commercial front, CONCACAF has signed a five-year partnership by which Soccer United Marketing (SUM) – the commercial arm of the US’ Major League Soccer – will market all its competitions.
These range from the CONCACAF Gold Cup regional championship, as well as the CONCACAF Cup, the Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament, Futsal Championship and beach soccer. All CONCACAF’s age-group events are covered by the deal along with the Champions League.
SUM won a tender process offered to 24 “international, experienced and reputable firms”, according to CONCACAF.
Acting general secretary Ted Howard said: “We are confident that SUM’s global network and expertise will play a vital role in negotiating innovative sponsorship opportunities for our tournaments and events.”
SUM is already working for CONCACAF, in partnership with IMG, in selling commercial and broadcast rights to next month’s Copa America Centenario. This is being staged in the US but is joint venture between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.