Saturday, March 31, 2012

Exclusive: Transparency 1 Canadian soccer secrecy 0

The FIFA Independent Governance Committee tabled its first report March 30 to FIFA at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Read a Forbes summary here. The full report, by Mark Pieth (with input from Canadians Alexandra Wrage and James Klotz), is here. FIFA's procedures are diplomatically described as "insufficient."

FIFA's response is best described as "baby steps." Transparency International issued this statement slamming FIFA for not immediately accepting and acting on all the recommendations. We're still no closer to finding out the story behind the ISL bribery scandal, despite well-respected Pieth urging FIFA publish the documents.

FIFA's 2011 financial report shows a $36 million profit based on revenue of $1.07 billion and expenses of $1.034 billion.

Meanwhile, closer to home, CONCACAF has announced that there is only one candidate to become the organization's next president. Jeffrey Webb, a banker from the Cayman Islands, will fill the post left vacant when bribery suspect Jack Warner quit in disgrace last year to avoid a FIFA investigation. The Canadian Soccer Association did not field a candidate and general secretary Peter Montopoli did not respond to my interview request.

Webb appears to be reform-minded, but he will have to take demonstrative action to introduce transparency to overcome his stigma. At a time when the world of soccer is under pressure to root out any hint of corruption, CONCACAF appears close to rubber-stamping the presidency of a banker from a notorious tax haven. The optics aren't good.

Speaking of the CSA, the governing body for the game in the biggest country (by land area) in CONCACAF does not publish its financial information -- even for its members! It publishes an annual report without financial statements. But it does submit audited statements to the Government of Canada annually to qualify for taxpayer funds via Sport Canada.

I have exclusively obtained the CSA's 2010 financial statements, which show an $807,944 profit based on $16.163 million revenue and $15.355 million expenses. The biggest sources of income were membership fees ($6.617 million), sponsorships and donations ($3.479 million) and taxpayer grants ($3.145 million). Read the full report below.

Here's hoping the CSA does the right thing and proactively publishes its 2011 financial statements, instead of forcing a reporter to send a $5 cheque to the government.

CSA 2010 Report Mackin

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