Canada has thrown its support behind UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino in Friday’s FIFA presidential election.
The decision was made unanimously by the Canadian Soccer Association’s board of directors.
“One, we felt that he was really the candidate that could truly embrace the (FIFA) reforms that will be passed (Friday) and actually implement them as a leader,” CSA president Victor Montagliani told The Canadian Press in an interview Thursday from Zurich.
“Secondly we believe that Gianni, out of all the candidates, really has what we feel is an intimate knowledge of football and the business of football. And I think what needs to come back to FIFA is football and we feel Gianni reflects those values. And I think his track record is incomparable to the rest of them, quite frankly. He has guided in the last nine years or so the most successful confederation in the world and I think that’s a resume you can’t ignore.”
Canada is one of 207 nations voting in Friday’s election in Zurich. The five candidates are Switzerland’s Infantino, Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, Prince Ali of Jordan, Jerome Champagne of France and Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa.
The two favourites are believed to be Sheikh Salman and Infantino. Montagliani agrees with that handicapping and expects a close race.
“I think nobody will win on the first ballot because you need 66 per cent (to win) and I don’t think that will happen.”
Canada could benefit from an Infantino win in that the UEFA administrator is running on a platform that includes expanding the World Cup field by eight countries to 40 and allowing regions to share World Cup hosting.
Montagliani, who is running in the May CONCACAF presidential election, will be front and centre Friday. He and Congo’s Constant Omari are presenting the package of FIFA reforms to the full Congress.
Montagliani, Omari and Infante are members of the FIFA Reform Committee that came up with the package that now has to be passed by the full Congress. The governance reforms are intended to increase transparency, help fight corruption and cut costs, with FIFA’s current 26 standing committees cut to nine.
The Canadian soccer boss was also involved in CONCACAF reforms that were unanimously passed by the 41 countries in the confederation representing North and Central America and the Caribbean.