Canada at Centre of Key World Cup Qualifying Match-Fixing Allegation

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CONCACAF /k?n.k?kæf/

Noun

1. The continental governing body for association football in North America, that includes Central America and the Caribbean regions.

“There are several key CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers today.”

Verb

2. The feeling that one’s team is being screwed over by officials, fans, general corruption allegedly endemic to the region.

“Man, I hope this El Salvador match-fixing business doesn’t mean Canada’s gonna get CONCACAF’d today.”

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It’s a weird time—maybe the weirdest ever?—in Canadian soccer.

Last May, for the first time in over forty years, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) elected a non-Caribbean president. Odder still, the winner was not an American or Mexican, but Victor Montagliani, head of the Canadian Soccer Association.

Canada is not exactly known as a footballing powerhouse, yet strange things are afoot (pun most definitely intended) in the Great White North. Montagliani been tasked with leading reform efforts in one of the most notoriously corrupt confederations in FIFA, the governing body that spawned U.S. Department of Justice indictees Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer, and Jeffrey Webb, three figures who, in Vic’s words, left a “shitstorm” behind for others to clean up, a process that could take years.

As Montagliani told the Guardian’s Matthew Hall just this past week, “Moving on doesn’t happen overnight. It is daily, day-out and day-in. Eventually, you do come out of it but what we need to remember is that we don’t forget our history. We want to make sure that, from a confederation standpoint, history never repeats itself.”

As if on cue, this morning, ahead of their critical World Cup qualifying match against Canada today, the already-eliminated El Salvador revealed they had been approached by a match-fixer eager to see them either win, draw, or limit Canada’s goals-scored to one.

The reason is Honduras. A positive result by El Salvador would assure the Hondurans progression to the next and final World Cup qualifying round, the Hexagonal. Honduras play the already qualified Mexico today, and Canada needs to both beat El Salvador and pray that both they and Mexico can help overcome a five goal differential.

Though Canada’s qualification is unlikely in any case, the news comes at a critical junction. Canada is still mulling a bid for the 2026 World Cup, and qualification for 2018 would certainly help raise the country’s profile. The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) also recently introduced former national team player and TV pundit Jason De Vos as their new ‘director of development,’ and rumours persist of a new, Canadian national Division 2 soccer league.

Now, with news of the match-fixing allegations breaking around the world, all eyes will be on the Canadian national team, as well as Honduras’ match against Mexico. For better or worse, Canada is certainly getting its hands dirty—it remains to be seen whether a Canadian can save CONCACAF without his country getting CONCACAF’d in the process.