Montagliani takes stock with an eye firmly on Concacaf’s strategic future

By Paul Nicholson in Paris

June 4 – After the revolution comes evolution. If no-one has ever coined that phrase then Concacaf should claim it because it aptly describes the regional confederation’s emergence from the dark days of May 2015 and the movement towards the light of new competitions, better governed operations and, perhaps most importantly, a return to international parity in the eyes of the rest of the world.

When the US Justice Department swooped in 2015 and arrested key members of the Concacaf leadership, federation officials and their marketing agents across the Americas, it left a body fractured, struggling for cash and suffering a severe case of football PTSD.

Concacaf has reinvented itself – not totally unrecognisable from the confederation that existed before as many of the faces are the same – but, starting with governance reform and progressing through an often painful ‘reorganisation’ of its membership, it has created a unity and competition structure that is as credible as it was needed.

It is now entering into its next phase of evolving those competition structures and its other programmes. It is a progressive story and one that Concacaf’s Canadian president Victor Montagliani reflected on in a letter to member federations before their Extraordinary Congress in Paris today, and, as he says, “we look to 2030 and beyond”.

If history provides lessons for the future then Concacaf had enough material to spend the past four years and the next 10 as a permanent, and introspective, student. It hasn’t, instead it has built a new narrative around Montagliani’s ONE Concacaf vision. With that has come rebuilt competition structures, and similarly with its commercial programmes.

Revenues hit a record $58.7 million in the 2018 financial year – accounts that the Concacaf membership signed off on following a video report form their BDO auditor telling them that they could find no “deficiencies”.  Those revenues marked a 127% growth over the previous non-Gold Cup year of 2016, the closest comparable benchmark.

Revenue is crucial to providing the oxygen to breathe and Concacaf is taking a deep breath as Montagliani moves it into its next phase.

In his letter to his member associations Montagliani talks about the “togetherness” that has “helped us earn the right to think long-term and look towards the unprecedented opportunities on the horizon.”

First among Montagliani’s credits is the recognition that with the Women’s World Cup about to start Concacaf has been a leader in the women’s game, not just on the field with the US World Champions coming from their membership – and the Jamaicans bringing their own joy and spice to France 2019 – but also in driving the women’s game forward organisationally. The last World Cup was hosted in Canada – Montagliani chaired the organising committee – and provided the springboard for his belief that “2019 will be the moment when the women’s game becomes part of the mainstream.”

“It is fitting that we unveil Concacaf W, our first-ever strategic framework to develop women’s football in our region. Concacaf W outlines a plan to drive both short and long-term growth, by working with all of our Member Associations,” said Montagliani.

Consistent throughout Montagliani’s message and indeed during his leadership of Concacaf (he was elected for a new four-year presidential term in April) is the need for unity which

In his letter he pointed to the “expanded club competitions platform, which has increased participation for clubs across the region and is providing a direct pathway to the confederations’s top regional championships; an expanded Gold Cup, now featuring 16 teams along with games in Jamaica and Costa Rica; a new Concacaf Nations League which provides every member with a pathway for improvement; a winning United 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup Bid, with the largest tournament in history set to be hosted in Mexico, Canada and the United States; and our new Concacaf W strategy that will pave the way to grow the women’s game.”

Pointing out that Concacaf is now staging more international football for men and women than ever before, he said: “Diversity is our strength – with a deep football heritage in some nations and an emerging culture in others – and our direct access to significant commercial markets with relatively unrealised football potential gives us an economic opportunity to benefit every boy and girl playing football in the region.”

With that understanding and the sense that Concacaf is coming to another turning point in its history (this one being a positive one), Montagliani announced a new strategic planning initiative – Concacaf 2030.

A tender has been issued with a consultancy firm about to be selected to begin work on compiling the data and coming up with a strategy document most likely in the summer of next year.

“One Concacaf (the pillars on which this version of Concacaf has been built) evolved from a document made by one guy. We now need to move into something made by the organisation,” Montagliani told Insideworldfootball.

After the Big Bang comes Football’s Theory of Evolution.

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