Board member: Show the red card to Canadian soccer secrecy

Lawyer's laundry list of reforms includes financial disclsoures and temporary withdrawal from FIFA, CONCACAF

Salehabadi Fouques

Amelia Salehabadi Fouques says she has “been there, done that.” She is a 25-year veteran lawyer who held positions with Bombardier and Bell Canada International, was a partner at the firm BLG, and a director of the Canadian Commercial Corporation. She specializes in sport law.

In May 2013, the Montrealer became a director on the board of the Canadian Soccer Association. She emphasizes that she is speaking for herself when she says the organization needs drastic governance improvement. Fouques says the fallout from the FIFA and CONCACAF corruption scandal is too big for the CSA to ignore. Drastic action is needed to make it a leader in transparency and she is going to Edmonton to propose wide-ranging reforms at a pre-Women’s World Cup board meeting on June 6.

“I always see the good things in the people and not the bad until I’m shocked; when I’m shocked I’m shocked,” Fouques told me. “This thing of secrecy, I don’t know where it comes from, but it has no place in corporations which do receive subsidies and where we, as a parent, pay. We don’t know where the money goes.”

The CSA does not publish its annual financial statements on its website, which was news to president Victor Montagliani when I interviewed him earlier this week. Below you can see the almost-entirely censored version of the 2013, PWC-audited financial statements that I received after an Access to Information request to Sport Canada. Montagliani told me last year that the budget is around $20 million to $22 million and CSA had built up $5 million in reserves. But, for some reason, we are not allowed to see the balance sheet.

The glossy annual review published by the CSA contains one page under the heading “financials.” Give it a close look below and you will notice that it does not even contain a summary of revenue and expenses. The word “forecast” is misspelled.

Rugby Canada, on the other hand, does publish its financials. Here is its audited report from 2013.

Fouques said there are those in the CSA that would rather she stay quiet, for fear of distracting from Canada’s quest to win the Women’s World Cup at home. She believes she can do both.

“Of course I will be there for the girls,” she said. “It doesn’t mean we have to close our eyes and not ask questions or answer the questions of the media.”

Fouques published her list of proposed reforms, which I have copied below:

Here is my proposal to CSA board members.
Like in any democratic organization, for it to become effective, board members have to agree and vote upon such propositions.
Proposal to the Board of Directors of CSA on Saturday, June 6 at Edmonton by Amelia S. Fouques, member of the board of Soccer Canada.
Following numerous arrests of members of FIFA and of CONCACAF (which the CSA is still member of) it is urgent that we members of the Canadian Soccer Association Board (CSA) take immediate decisions to ensure best practices of governance and of utmost full transparency are the watchwords of the Association and thus are met.
These proposals will be submitted by the undersigned at the next meeting of the CSA Board in Edmonton this Saturday, June 6, 2015.
Canada is hosting the Women’s World Cup 2015. It is essential for the proper functioning of this International competition that Canadians (as the CSA also receives public funds) be assured that the CSA shall take all necessary steps to ensure full transparency and best governance practices within it are in force. Some international soccer federations (football) have already adopted a good part of them. We are behind.
While these measures may be seen as drastic measures, it is my personal view that they are required in this drastic and tormented time in the  world  of soccer.

1. FIFA: suspend CSA membership at the end of the World Cup of Women Canada until  the time that full light and TOTAL cleaning are done in this organization.
2. CONCACAF: suspend CSA membership at the end of the World Cup of Women Canada, the time that light and cleaning are done in this organization.
3. Direct consequence of 1 and 2: the President of the CSA Board of Directors and all other persons (employees, officers, consultants, board of directors, etc.) of the CSA  to immediately withdraw from setting on any committees of FIFA and/or CONCACAF especially as CSA is very busy with the World Cup for women in Canada and the establishment of even  better practices in governance and transparency within our own association.
4. Publicize on the CSA website a list of all gifts, payments and / or benefits in kind (travel, money,  etc.) received by the Chairman, the members of the Board of Directors and Secretary General CSA for the past 5 years from FIFA and/or CONCACAF
5. Stop immediately receiving or giving gifts, even symbolic  to or from members of FIFA and CONCACAF.
6. That the members of the Board shall serve only one term on the board the CSA to ward off the danger of hidden agendas. Nobody is irreplaceable.
7. That the Secretary General and members of the CSA board sign  immediately commitment  in which they will renounce to accept  any and all jobs, contracts,  payments during the 5 years following their departure Soccer Canada from FIFA & CONCACAF.

1. Publish immediately the audited financial statements of the CSA last 5 years (at least) on the website of CSA.
2. Publish immediately detailed and not compiled expenditures (why, when, how much, if provided detailed receipts) of each  board member of the  CSA  and of the General secretary of the CSA  of the past  years and then after on a  quarterly basis, on the CSA website
3. Complete salaries of executive officers and coaches (to ensure pay equity) are published on the website.
4. All members of the CSA (including  board members and consultants and members of NOC) to  denounce all payments or benefits received by CSA, FIFA, CONCACAF or federations / leagues / soccer club in Canada or elsewhere in the world. These denunciations to be publicised on the website. Especially if payments were received in exchange for  professional services.
5. The same as 3) for all companies fully or partially owned by such persons or their relatives, that these payments were made directly or indirectly, and some of the nature of these payments or benefits (species, nature, etc.).
6. That the annual service contracts given to different organizations (accounting, legal, telephony etc.) are the subject of transparent request of proposal. Such RFP should be made in such a manner that are not designed to suit a single respondent.

UPDATE (Sept. 28): Fouques issued a news release this evening, demanding transparency, the week after Swiss authorities announced FIFA president Sepp Blatter is under criminal investigation and his office was searched and evidence seized. She renewed her call for the CSA to withdraw from FIFA.

I am a board member of Soccer Canada since the past two years and a sport lawyer.

In order to perform well my fiduciary duties on the board, I need precise information (financial, contracts, etc) from Soccer Canada. I have asked for specifics for quite some time, including information concerning any funds received from FIFA and/or CONCACAF by the CSA, its personal and/or  any member of the board of directors or any member of the NOC for the Women’s World Cup in 2014 and 2015, a long time without any tangible results. I addressed my demands to the Chairman of the board and to the Secretary General of the CSA who have not even responded to  several of my emails in that regard.

The CSA cannot withhold information from its board of directors or any director as a matter of fact, moreover when specifics are requested by a director of the board.

Soccer Canada is a private corporation (a non-profit corporation under federal law), however it receives public money from different level of  governments in Canada (federal, provincial, municipalities). Furthermore, the CSA benefits from the effective monopole in Canada regarding any and all competitive soccer games in the country. Thus, board members need to be extremely vigilant that the CSA mission is performed as per the utmost best governance practices and that board members ask effectif and sometimes difficult questions and get answers.

As a board member of the CSA, in my personal name and without speaking in the name of any other board member of the CSA, I don’t feel I have all the appropriate information and data, in a timely matter, in order to perform well my duties as a board member.

At a point, I was seriously considering resigning from the board. I was asked by people who care about soccer in Canada to stay and fight for the integrity of soccer in Canada. 

I have decide to go public about this opacity of information of the CSA towards its own board of directors, since integrity, transparency and accountability in sport organisations in our country is something that I take very seriously. 

I have reached out to CSA president Victor Montagliani and am waiting for comment. I will add that as soon as I receive it.

“I want to know if anyone was paid by FIFA or CONCACAF, directly or indirectly, yes or no,” Fouques told me by phone.

Mobile users click here->Canadian Soccer Association audited financial statements Dec. 31, 2013

Mobile viewers click here-> CSA “financials”

3 thoughts on “Board member: Show the red card to Canadian soccer secrecy

  1. Cariboo Dan

    OK. There are a couple valid points here, but severing all ties with FIFA would be a horrible idea.
    One of the few numbers I was able to glean from these documents indicates the CSA is typically funded by the Canadian taxpayer – except for this year, when revenues from WWC15 are expected to be 53% of annual revenues.
    Equitable remuneration for our outstanding women’s team just makes sense, and may even be required under the constitution. And making a public record of all international financial transactions should be mandatory for all Canadian non-profits, not just the CSA.
    Just don’t sever all ties with FIFA.

  2. Coachrich

    Cariboo Dan

    I’m curious where you get the 53% of annual revenues from the WWC? FIFA usually takes in the revenues and gives some back to NOC Also, the last event the CSA ran which was the mens U20 they lost money and FIFA gave them $2M to break even

    Regardless any money that comes in to the CSA for the WNT for success is doubtful that the team will see all or any of it as the money goes to the CSA and they decide how it’s spent. It’s been a key issue for the WNT for decades going back to the Charmaine Hooper days.

    Where the WNT does get their program money is mostly from Own The Podium and Sports Canada. The funds come into the CSA as restricted meaning they can only be used for the WNT. OTP has been the best funder of the WNT since the EP coaching days when the WNT started to be successful.

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