Soccer organizations struggle with reform as Vancouver event approaches

Draw pits Canada against Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti

The scandal-ridden governor of world soccer took steps last week toward reforms that could happen before Vancouver hosts 2015 Women's World Cup matches.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter set up ethics and transparency task forces on Friday and pledged to release documents about the $300 million bankruptcy of corrupt FIFA marketing contractor ISL.

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But executives of the North and Central American and Caribbean confederation and Canadian Soccer Association aren't rushing to make changes of their own.

"I haven't had a chance to personally review it and the CSA hasn't had a chance to discuss it," CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli told the Courier after a Monday news conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre. "Until we get an opportunity to do that, it would be premature for us to comment. We support president Blatter, knowing he made the comments in May and June of last year as far as the changes he was proposing."

Next May, the CSA will have a new, smaller board with a mix of elected and appointed directors, but there are no plans to publish financial statements.

"We'll do what we've always done in sync with what the requirements are from Sport Canada, so we're comfortable with that," Montopoli said.

Jack Warner, president of New York-based CONCACAF, resigned in June amid a FIFA corruption and bribery probe. CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, who claimed Warner and FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam bought votes from Caribbean Football Union executives, is quitting at year end. FIFA suspended four CFU executives on Oct. 14.

"There haven't been any issues with regards to questions in the U.S. about how we conduct business," claimed CONCACAF deputy secretary general Ted Howard. "Our problem at the moment is dealing with the Caribbean association situation that was created by the president, Jack Warner."

Howard, who said he did not know CONCACAF's annual budget, wouldn't commit to adopting transparency reforms but conceded that FIFA may impose new policies on confederations.

"This really should be all about players and the field of play and it shouldn't be about what goes on between administrations and other issues," Howard said. "So we really need to get back to that focus."

Howard was in Vancouver to conduct the official draw for the CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada will face Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti in the first round. The top two finishers in the Jan. 19-29 B.C. Place Stadium event advance to the London Olympics.

Montopoli will lead a CSA delegation to FIFA headquarters in Zurich next week for meetings on the 2014 Under-20 Women's World Cup and 2015 Women's World Cup. Vancouver is expected to host 2015 matches and is vying with Edmonton to stage the final.

The federal government pledged $15 million for operations of the tournaments. CSA is lobbying provincial governments to sponsor the 2015 tournament for $2 million each.

FOX bought U.S. TV rights for FIFA events from 2015 to 2022 for $425 million last week.

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