Ex-Canada Soccer presidents Nick Bontis, Victor Montagliani to testify in front of Heritage Committee this week
Nick Bontis has a lot of questions to answer.
And he’s set to do just that this Thursday, March 30, according to TSN’s Rick Westhead.
Westhead reports that Bontis and his fellow former Canada Soccer president Victor Montagliani, the current president of CONCACAF and a vice-president of FIFA, will testify before the federal Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage this week.
The session will be the third in front of the Committee that concerns Canada Soccer’s relationship with its players, its financial dealings and transparency, its deal with Canadian Soccer Business, and other topics.
First, the quartet of Canadian women’s national team representatives – Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, Janine Beckie, and Quinn – spoke at length about the matter, before Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and two CSA directors were grilled by MPs.
Bontis was scheduled to be present at that latter session after being summoned but informed the committee days prior that he would not attend due to personal reasons, which were reported to be that he was in an unfit state of mind after a person accused of harassing him over the past year unexpectedly died.
At that session, the committee passed a motion to summon Bontis and Montagliani as well as Canada Soccer CFO Sean Heffernan before the committee before the end of March.
“They … were instrumental in all of the major decisions we are looking at ranging from the agreement between Canada Soccer and [Canadian Soccer Business] to the Bob Birarda case and how Canada Soccer deals with questions of harassment,” Anthony Housefather, Liberal MP for Mount Royal, told CBC.
“I think we are hoping to understand their explanations for things such as why the [CSB] agreement was negotiated the way it was and why Birarda was allowed to continue coaching even after Canada Soccer had specific knowledge of multiple allegations. There are other issues, of course, ranging from a culture of entitlement of the Canada Soccer Board to its relationship with CONCACAF.”
Among the many other things Bontis will likely have to answer for is a remark he allegedly made about CanWNT icon Sinclair, who said during her testimony that Bontis referred to her campaigning for equality as “bitching.” Cochrane stressed during his own session that the comment “does not represent how we view her or the esteem we hold her in.”
Sinclair’s revelation was an unsavoury standout moment of the CanWNT testimony.
On Monday, speaking to Canadian media, Canadian men’s national team head coach and Sinclair’s former CanWNT manager John Herdman took a long pause being asked about that comment before saying it made him feel “frustrated, just frustrated.”
Bontis’ testimony will be his first public resurfacing since he resigned as president of Canada Soccer amid mounting internal and external pressure on February 27. That came just hours after the revelation that the presidents of the 13 provincial and territorial members of Canada Soccer had sent Bontis a letter demanding his resignation and outlining that they had no confidence in Bontis’ leadership.