CSN has learned that the Canadian Soccer Association, at its annual general meeting, referred the match-fixing allegations facing the Canadian Soccer League to the professional staff, which will now, in the coming months, further review the matter with FIFA.
Many were looking to the CSA to make a strong leadership statement this past weekend and commit to firm action on that matter, but given the number of political footballs being kicked around at the AGM – reform and re-election being the biggest - perhaps it’s forgivable that the CSL wasn't a central issue.
But, even if it was just procedure, the attitude among Canadian soccer officials, up until this point, on how to deal with the matter, has been to say: “Don’t tell me, because I don’t want to know about it.”
It’s in Canadian Soccer News' opinion that few in the Canadian soccer scene want to open Pandora’s Box, for fear of what they might find.
We originally heard serious whispers about allegations of match-fixing, well over a year ago now. It always began with ‘I heard from a guy, who knows a player, who swears something was up at his game this past weekend.’ Sometimes it would evolve into something in greater detail – a name, a place, an event – but mostly it has just been stories.
Many among the soccer community here in Toronto, can attest to being regaled with similar tales involving teams in the CSL. In fact, it seems, judging by what we've been told, it has perhaps been the dirty, little secret here for a decade. But, with little evidence and only anecdotes to go on, anger has turned to apathy among those who have been allegedly in the know.
But six months ago, we began to receive substantial leads from people within the league suggesting that whatever had allegedly been going on in year's past – stressing the word allegedly - that the ‘something’ had changed last season and, obviously, not for the better.
Without anyone willing to stand on the record about what they knew, or had seen, we decided that we cannot expose those ideas to the light of speculation. Despite hints here or there on our various platforms, we've remained cautious of what the fallout from such news would mean. CSN tried to balance a desire to protect our game from being unnecessarily dragged through the mud, with a knowledge and belief that these things, when proven, cannot be allowed to continue.
Two weeks ago, when the news out of Germany broke, the collective door opened a peek. People, some who had refused before, were now willing to speak to CSN about what they knew. And others, who had told us before what they knew - but had prefaced it with ‘just keep my name out of it,’ - were willing to go on the record.
Still, though, others with critical information have remained silent. Their refusal is out of the same fear that has clouded this issue since the beginning. Fear for their families, fear of being ostracized in their communities - even fear for their professional careers has kept them silent.
And CSN understands and will respect those requests for anonymity up until a point. This writer has experienced several instances of his own, since he began researching a year ago, that certainly have given us cause for concern. We'll leave those events untranscribed here, so as not to shift the focus of this article from it, on to us.
But here comes the point: this community has to decide if it’s going to continue to live with the knowledge of these - alleged - events in silence, or stand up to such abhorrence's to our game.
A wiser man than us once said: it takes a village to raise a child. That could never be truer than it is within Toronto football. A player doesn't reach a high level on his own here. He his molded, mentored and motivated by a number of people along the way. You were the coach, or their trainer, or one of the mom's and wives who brought orange slices to the game. Toronto's football community is small, tight knit and whether you want to admit it or not, you know someone who has been subject to the pressures of match-fixing.
And if you stay silent on these things that you know, you're choosing to allow the same kids, who ran the pitch under your watch, who you took care of, to be the subject of further disgusting, manipulation by these thugs.
I’m asking you today to stand up for that community and come forward. These people, who continue to - allegedly - profit off the backs of our football: they do not come from us, they do not represent us and they don’t reflect our values.
Certainly, because of that, they do not deserve your silence.
Canadian Soccer News
Editor in Chief
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