Canadian Soccer

CSA takes a blast of heat

Toronto FC are winding up their excursion to Turkey this week, and the Vancouver Whitecaps are pre-season training in our hemisphere. And I’m not sure who can tell us what the Montreal Impact are up to right about now.

So in the wilds of hockey season, the buzz in Canadian soccer is coming from the boring old establishment. The Canadian Soccer Association is currently under scrutiny in two realms. Grabbing some mainstream media (CBC and NY Times) attention this week, the Women’s National Team players have threatened a walk out if their coach and the CSA cannot come to terms before this summer’s World Cup. The same group of players have also engaged a lawyer to represent them in negotiations over player compensation and parity with the Men’s team.

As if that’s not embarrassing enough, the CSA is also under pressure to reform its internal governance and its relationships with Provincial soccer institutions. Drama in the realm of Provincial meetings hasn’t made into the wider media landscape. The pressure is on, however, to reform the way that the CSA relates to Provincial bodies and to reform the way it conducts business in general. I must leave it to commentators with more informed views to sort through the truth of these matters.

My own view on these issues is that the CSA is experiencing growing pains in an era of rapid change to the sport in our country. The Vancouver Whitecaps join the MLS this year, and Montreal Impact arrive on this scene next year. Added to the Toronto FC, our country has moved from zero to three teams in the highest level North American league over a quick six years. Naturally, the realm of player development and National youth and senior competitive teams will also be evolving and adapting to this new reality.

A cold wind blows outside today, yet the hallways of the CSA must be filled with the sweaty and nervous. Change is never a pretty process. There will be some more difficult days ahead for the soccer establishment here. Fans and players are too busy enjoying this sport to wade too deeply into these matters. And from the outside, these growing pains seem like something positive to me. We’re watching the beginning of a real stride forward for this sport in this country. Sorry if somebody has to wear a few broken eggs along the way.

Let’s get going, there’s a long way to go in moving up those FIFA rankings.

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