As Vancouverite vies for top soccer post, critics call for improved sports transparency

Several Canadian sports organizations have been reluctant to publicly release financial reports

Victor Montagliani is seeking CONCACAF presidency | Richard Lam

(Scroll to bottom of story to view financial documents obtained by Business in Vancouver)

On May 12 in Mexico City, Vancouver insurance executive Victor Montagliani could become one of the world’s most powerful soccer bosses.

The president of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) is running for the presidency of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), one of FIFA’s six regional confederations. He has support from United States and Mexico counterparts, but he needs votes from small Caribbean and Central American associations to beat Bermudan Larry Mussenden for the unenviable task of reforming the corrupt organization.

Ex-presidents Alfredo Hawit of Honduras and Jeffrey Webb of Cayman Islands have pleaded guilty to taking bribes and kickbacks, and Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago is facing charges.

But does Montagliani have what it takes, when the organization that he leads is among the least transparent of Canada’s non-profit sports associations?

The U.S. Soccer Federation publishes its annual financial report, but the CSA does not. Montagliani said that would change sometime later this year when 2015’s fiscal results will be published.   

“They’re pretty simple audited financial statements; the last time I looked we’re not IBM,” said Montagliani, CSA president since 2012.  

He dismissed Business in Vancouver’s request to see the audited financial statements for previous years, citing a vague CSA “policy.”

Amelia Salehabadi-Fouques, a Montreal lawyer and outspoken CSA board member, said the financial reports for all years should be published for all to see.

“If they didn’t publish anything before and don’t want to do it, there must be something,”  Salehabadi-Fouques said.

“Why wouldn’t they do it?”

In a BIV survey of 13 national sport organizations, CSA, Hockey Canada, Canada Basketball and Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton were the minority that do not disclose their financials. By comparison, all of their U.S. counterparts proactively disclose both their financials and Internal Revenue Service filings.

Athletics Canada, Own the Podium, Rowing Canada, Rugby Canada and Snowboard Canada provided BIV with copies of their audited financial reports (see documents embedded below). The Canadian Olympic Committee, Curling Canada, Skate Canada and Swimming Canada publish financial summaries.

None of the organizations BIV contacted would reveal how much they pay individual senior executives or individual suppliers of goods and services.

“Our board is not compensated, totally volunteer, and with respect to salaries of our staff, it will remain confidential,” Montagliani said. “We will not publish them.”

The CSA’s 2013 report, however, was found on the blog of Toronto law firm Blumberg Segal. The non-profit specialist collected 2013 and 2014 filings for registered Canadian amateur athletic associations from Canada Revenue Agency’s charities directorate last year. The tax department does not publish the returns, but it told BIV that it could take up to six months to fulfil a routine request.

The 2013 CSA filing showed it netted $1.8 million from $25.08 million revenue, including nearly $7.4 million collected from membership fees and $2.8 million in government grants. It spent nearly $2 million on administration and meetings and $1.75 million on marketing and communications. The PwC-audited financials show a $6.06 million deficit on investing activities.

A CSA report from last October, obtained by BIV, shows that it forecast almost $22 million revenue, $21.4 million expenses and a $583,000 surplus for 2015. It forecast 35% revenue from members, 29% from sponsors and 19% from government grants. More than a fifth of expenses were for administration, marketing and communications.
Canada Basketball operations director Bryan Crawford said his organization runs on a $6.3 million budget, which includes public funding of $685,000 from Sport Canada and $2 million from Own the Podium.

Hockey Canada’s annual summary of activities includes a single page on finances with pie charts under the headings “source of funds” and “use of funds.” Instead of dollars, there are percentages only.

On the other side of the transparency ledger is Rugby Canada, which has a national training centre near Victoria and staged the successful Canada Sevens at BC Place Stadium in March. Its website boasts financial reports dating back to 2003. Last year, the BDO-audited report shows Rugby Canada spent $1.4 million on staff salaries, benefits and commissions and $6.6 million on national teams. It wound up with a modest $47,697 surplus on its $16.08 million budget. The detailed report includes a breakdown of national men’s and women’s teams spending.

No surprise that the Canadian Olympic Committee is the richest organization. Its one-page summary, which doesn’t list its auditor, shows $61.5 million in 2015 revenue, $54 million in expenses and a $7.5 million surplus. The committee has $165.8 million of investments, but the report doesn’t say whether it holds any gold stocks.


Canadian Soccer Association October financial memo

Athletics Canada annual report by BobMackin

Canadian Snowboard Federation 2015 by BobMackin

Sports Financial Summaries by BobMackin

Own the Podium Annual Report 2015 by BobMackin

Rowing Canada annual report 2015 by BobMackin

Rugby Canada 2015 annual report by BobMackin

Other links:

U.S. Soccer Federation

U.S. Olympic Committee

USA Hockey

USA Bobsled and Skeleton

USA Basketball

Blumberg Segal Transparency Project