By Paul Nicholson
March 17 – Mark Rodrigues, the US-based Guyanan football entrepreneur, has pulled out of the race for the CONCACAF presidency leaving just three candidates – Canadian FA president Victor Montagliani, Caribbean Football Union president Gordon Derrick and Bermuda FA president Larry Mussenden.
Rodrigues secured the backing of his own Guyana federation and two others, but only received the fourth nomination needed to enter the election the day after the deadline closed.
But in leaving the campaign Rodrigues has issued a sharp rebuke to the confederation questioning how committed it is to reform and criticising what he sees as the power-broking of its executive.
“The ‘forces’ that run CONCACAF are not serious about effective change other than have the official control be a North American candidate. All of this talk about complete reform restructure in CONCACAF and FIFA is simply window dressing for the general public. The statutes are not the problem, they have been around from inception and have worked very well in managing the organisation over the years,” he said.
“Having now stated that the statutes are not the problem then raises the question – what is?
“The problem is the remaining executive leadership in CONCACAF. Some of the remaining leadership has been in existence since Jack Warner and subsequently remained along with some new faces through the Jeffery Webb era… many questions need to be asked of the existing Exco who have done a good job of protecting themselves and covering their tracks to date. They all need to be replaced in the new CONCACAF Council,” said Rodrigues.
He was realistic about his chances of winning the election, but says he had hoped to be given a better opportunity to make his case.
“I must admit that all along I was well aware that my chances of being successful was significantly lower than the other candidates now officially in the race, but always remained hopeful that CONCACAF was truly ready to embrace credible, honest and transparent change, especially after the level of disgrace that they have witnessed recently,” he said.
“During my campaign, I quickly realised that the ‘forces’ who actually do control CONCACAF have a greater foothold than the world realises. I was consistently blocked from attending meetings that would afford MA’s within CFU and UNCAF the opportunity to meet and get to know Mark Rodrigues.
“There was either a zero response to my emails or calls, and/or an excuse that the scheduled meetings were for other purposes. The most common used was ‘the purpose of this meeting is to address reform issues’, yet the other candidates (because of their affiliations with their respective MA’s) were present and all FIFA presidential candidates were officially invited.”
Rodrigues believes that the favourite for the new presidency is Montagliani who “NAFU, UNCAF (the north and central American sub regions) and specific CFU supporters have quietly and efficiently put in a position to be the next President”.
He also issued a warning to the Caribbean Football Union which he says is in danger of “sleep walking to disaster”.
“On May 13th, they will be solely responsible for relinquishing their power of having the majority of votes in CONCACAF to a non CFU member, by failing to rally around a CFU leader who they feel have the ability to effectively lead the Confederation,” he said.
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