‘COVID’s no excuse’
Concacaf President urges associations to get in line with professional mandate in spite of pandemic
Concacaf President Victor Montagliani has warned member associations and their clubs to not use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for not getting in line with its mandates on professionalism. This mandate sets out that all clubs within Concacaf...
Concacaf President Victor Montagliani has warned member associations and their clubs to not use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for not getting in line with its mandates on professionalism.
This mandate sets out that all clubs within Concacaf are to be registered as professional bodies to ensure a streamlining of operations and more efficient operations in keeping with global standards. In a financial context, this would allow for clubs to adapt modern business models to build their brands regionally and globally and better protect themselves against bankruptcy or malpractice within their organisations.
The Concacaf mandate would also ensure that clubs have all the amenities and personnel required for best practices and development of their players and for the growth of the game, as a whole, in their respective countries.
All member associations across the region were expected to meet these requirements in 2019, however, many clubs, including those locally, have still not done all that is necessary to be certified.
Montagliani, who was speaking in an exclusive interview with The Gleaner recently, says he understands that there are some member associations that are having difficulty dealing with the financial challenges that have been caused by the pandemic. However, there must be an effort to meet the requirements if these associations want to avoid falling further behind the already professional leagues across the region.
“I don’t know any specific cases, and those kinds of things are dealt with by my development and technical team, and that’s where it should be at, but listen, we understand the pandemic has hit us hard, but like a lot of places in the world and a lot of places in Concacaf, you’ve got to get on with it,” he said.
“I don’t think you can use it as an excuse. A lot of these issues existed before the pandemic in terms of not certifying the club or getting those standards to where they need to be.
“It’s one thing not being able to play, I totally get that, but the other thing is we’re talking about standards – standards so that you can get your club licensing done and get to the level that you need to get to so that you are a professional club. And I think that is important. There’s no excuse to not work on getting those standards done – implementing them, getting on the pitch – I totally understand that, but I think the work needs to be done to ensure that the standards are there.”
But Montagliani says that although many associations have not met the requirements, Concacaf would rather assist them than apply sanctions as the bigger picture is about achieving development across the entire region.
“Listen, at the end of the day, the biggest recommendation I can make is that we as Concacaf are here to help you,” he said. “We’re not here to punish anybody, we’re not here to sanction anybody. We want to help you. We want to do everything in our power to ensure that those standards are met, that we’re helping you.
“Our Development Department, Dr Jonathan Martinez, who deals specifically with club licensing, they’re there to help, so by all means, they should be calling on us to give them a helping hand on pushing for those standards.”
Don Anderson, former chairman of the now defunct Professional Football Association of Jamaica, said in the past that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) had made every effort to get in line with Concacaf’s standards, but the financial challenges of meeting the demands were too great.
“Concacaf mandated we go professional as fast as we can,” Anderson told The Gleaner in December 2019. “We met [with Concacaf] in 2017, and the timeline was 2019, and I believe we were making progress. But other improvements were required. But that requires a lot of money. We tried to make progress and meet the expectations and instructions from Concacaf, but we didn’t go far enough.”
Anderson said that for Jamaica to bridge that professional gap, much more financial investment is needed.
“Things need to step up. It needs lots of cash to make that transition from where we were in June 2019 (before the PFAJ was dissolved) to where Concacaf wants us,” he said. “It’s a big challenge, so there is a lot of work to do.”
Along with the struggles of meeting professional demands, no domestic football has been played in Jamaica since March 2020 because of the pandemic.
What are some of Concacaf’s requirements for professionalism?
■ Publishing audited statements
■ A complete staff in place, including a marketing plan and personnel, goalkeeper coaches and physical trainers
■ Teams have training fields separate from match day surfaces
■ Increasing seating capacity at some venues
■ Established scouting networks and academies