FIFA vice-president: Maybe the best thing that happened in football was Russia...

FIFA vice-president: Maybe the best thing that happened in football was Russia and Qatar

Victor Montagilani

FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani has suggested football might still be blighted by corruption if Russia and Qatar had not been chosen to host the next two World Cups.

Russia will host the next tournament in 2018 and Qatar the 2022 event, with both nations winning the right in a controversial vote almost six years ago.

Since the December 2010 awarding, corruption has been exposed in the global game, with then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter among those now banned.

Montagliani, speaking at the Leaders in Sport conference in London, said: “If Russia and Qatar wouldn’t have got these World Cups, would we be in this situation now with an opportunity to clean the game?

“I think that was the starting point and the tipping point for certain things to happen.

“If England and the US had got the World Cup, maybe we would’ve had status quo.

“I’m just wondering if the authorities that have stepped up their involvement in the game would’ve done that if the choices had been a bit different.

“Maybe the best thing that happened in football was Russia and Qatar.”

The Canadian Montagliani was elected CONCACAF president earlier this year, following the disgraced Jeffrey Webb as leader of North American, Central American and Caribbean football.

Montagliani is also an ally of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was named Blatter’s successor in February.

Infantino has raised the prospect of expanding the World Cup from 32 teams to 40 – and now 48.

FIFA, which governs 211 nations, who all take part in World Cup qualifying, is expected to decide on the format for the 2026 tournament early next year.

“I think it’s obvious it’s not going to stay at 32 for 2026. I think it’s going to change,” Montagliani added.

“If we listened to traditionalists we’d still have a 16-team World Cup.
“And there is a balance. You don’t want 211 countries in a World Cup either.

“But the reality is that the World Cup is such a strong brand and inspires a lot of hope and inspiration in countries.

“For them just to dream about it, never mind get a piece of it, provides a lot of groundswell in those countries to promote the game.

“I think it’s an opportunity and I think the president’s right to really look at it.

“Should it expand? I think the answer is probably yes. I think now is, ‘What’s the format?'”

Montagliani says the United States, Canada and Mexico could host the World Cup themselves, but a regional bid is possible, too.

“I think it’s time it does come back to CONCACAF. We haven’t had it since 1994 (USA),” Montagliani added.

“I don’t want to prejudice their own individual positions, but as CONCACAF president I don’t see any negatives in terms of a regional bid.”

CONCACAF has struggled with corruption perhaps more than any other of FIFA’s six confederations, with Montagliani seeking to address the troubles and the image with the appointment of a first chief compliance officer and a potential re-naming of the organization.

“No longer can a president or anyone else do things on a wink and a nod,” Montagliani said.

“Right now (re-naming CONCACAF) is an idea. We’re looking at it.
“As an organisation you always have to look to change. Your brand or your name should not be exclusive of that.

“Part of it is the history, but part of it is also can we maximise in terms of leveraging a new brand and a new name.”

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