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Mussenden charts course for CONCACAF presidency

Published:Sunday | April 10, 2016 | 4:00 AMAndre Lowe
Larry Mussenden

Rocked by the recent FIFA corruption scandal, regional football authority, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), will continue its push towards turning a new page with upcoming elections for a new president.

Long-time Bermuda Football Association president Larry Mussenden is looking to be the man to lead the confederation into a new age of transparency, credibility and growth and has been taking this message across the region as he drums up support ahead of the May 12 presidential election.

CONCACAF has long held significance in FIFA's corridors of power, but as a wide-ranging investigation revealed, many within the organisation played major roles in under-the-table operations.

The organisation's last three presidents, Austin 'Jack' Warner, Jeffrey Webb and Alfredo Hawit, have all been indicted by the US Department of Justice. Webb has since pleaded guilty to racketeering, money laundering and racketeering charges.

Mussenden, who distanced himself from the culture that clearly existed in the previous dispensation of regional football leadership, believes his experience in football administration, coupled with his base as a former Bermudian attorney general, would serve the region well.

"I have been the president of the Bermuda Football Association for a number of years, so I have been around a number of years, and I have been encouraged by presidents of other countries, who have asked me to consider running," he told The Sunday Gleaner.

GREAT CONSIDERATION

"I have given it great consideration, and I have seen how the previous presidents and general secretaries operate and I thought that with the right effort, the right support and with my background in legal affairs and football, that I could be an effective leader," added Mussenden.

"We took some serious damage, but from the bottom, there is only one way to go and that is up. CONCACAF has started the process with the reform package that we have been through over the past few months. We have been working on changes to our statutes to bring in greater checks and balances," he said. "That is the first and early step in us working hard to demonstrate that CONCACAF can be one of the greatest confederations in FIFA, but also that we could be a credible organisation in the eyes of the people in our 41 countries."

Mussenden, an attorney-at- law, promises, if elected, to transform the organisation into an effectively run body with strong marketing, communications and tech-driven execution, while crucially committing to put into good use some US$10 million, which is being withheld as part of the ongoing corruption investigations.

"Funds that have been seized and due to be returned ... I understand that a significant amount of that will be due to CONCACAF as the victim and the money that comes back to CONCACAF, whatever it is, I think it should be used for development," he said, before outlining his planned breakdown.

"Thirty per cent should be used to develop various programmes, 20 per cent should be divided on a needs basis between the three unions, and the other 50 per cent should be divided equally among the 41 countries of CONCACAF because it should have been delivered to those countries in any event, and I will pledge to put this forward if elected," noted Mussenden.

COACHING EDUCATION

Mussenden is also hoping to improve coaching education across the region and outlined plans to introduce a multi-tiered licensing system similar to that which exists at UEFA.

He is also promising to work to ensure that the region continues to produce top-class referees and assistant referees, even as he underlined the need to pay close and immediate attention to bringing the confederation in line with best practices.

The candidate says he has received encouraging reception from the various associations and believes he will get their support when voting begins.

"I have had great encouragement from countries across the board and I feel very confident about the support ... I have a good plan, I think I can get the respect of our member associations, I can get the respect of the people that we have to do business with and the region on a whole," Mussenden noted.

The CONCACAF presidential election will take place in Mexico City on May 12.