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  • Consequences of compromise



    As previously noted in this space, the Canadian Soccer Association’s sweeping, ambitious governance reform package became a bit less sweeping after some backroom tinkering a week ago.

    The plan – which originally called for the removal of all provincial and territorial soccer association (SA) presidents from the CSA board – has tentatively been modified to allow three of fourteen seats to go to the SA heads.

    All I can tell you for certain is that Alberta and Quebec – the only provinces to vote against reform when the plan came up for a preliminary vote at last spring’s CSA annual general meeting in Winnipeg – have voted in favour of the changes.

    Alberta. (Sigh.)


    Before we get there, though:

    The reform package remains a work in progress. CSA director of communications Richard Scott told me the other day the matter will arise again at a Constitution Committee meeting in February. That should produce the final reform model, which will either be enacted (or voted into extinction) at the next CSA AGM in the spring.

    In the meantime, a broad array of veteran Canadian soccer watchers are telling me (quietly) they feel the current plan could be a fine and acceptable compromise. Certainly any reform that cuts the number of voting SA presidents from twelve to three is a bold, decisive sea change.

    But there’s still a huge cloud of controversy over Alberta, where the elected president (Chris Billings) has been unseated, and the acting head man (Mario Charpentier) stands accused – on multiple fronts – of furthering an agenda based more on what is good for him than for the development of soccer in his province.

    (I welcome any on-the-record counter-claims you care to offer, sir. benknight103 at yahoo.ca.)

    Which brings me – at last – to the main point.

    I do not, in general, question the well-meaning good intent of the provincial presidents. The reform package calls for regional representation, with a move towards elected representatives who do not hold positions in any other significant soccer boardroom.

    It’s a simple question of serving multiple masters. Provincial presidents have no need to be competent to help shape the future of professional national soccer squads hoping to qualify for FIFA World Cups. That’s a level of professional competence has been achingly lacking from the CSA for far too long.

    Yes, things are improving. And I’ll concede that even the current compromised reform package would be a significant step.

    But as long as any members of the CSA board also have constitutional responsibilities to a provincial or territorial board, the ultimate focus of the overall organization will be split. In Alberta, the fight is purely about who should be in charge, not what direction the on-field game should take.

    (I welcome any on-the-record counter-claims you care to offer, sir. benknight103 at yahoo.ca.)

    And now, this same Alberta is in a spearhead position in the reform clawback effort.

    (I welcome any on-the-record counter-claims you care to offer, sir. benknight103 at yahoo.ca.)

    The point’s been made to me several times this week that the provinces are reluctant to depart Metcalfe Street as long as the vast majority of the CSA’s money comes from local player registration fees. Certainly, it’s hard to argue against that. But this funding model is laughably out of date, and almost totally out of step with pretty much the entire footballing planet. Must the CSA be required to maintain a non-functional board to oversee an obsolete model?

    The Canadian Soccer Association will never be truly free to completely back Canada’s national teams until all the provincial and territorial presidents are removed from its board.

    Even if we’re down to only three come spring, how will they be selected? What kinds of bad feeling will the other boards feel as a consequence? How is there any fairness in any model as split as this one has now become?

    Ultimately, people, this is a simple case of all or nothing. We know "all" doesn’t work.

    If any SA heads are left on the CSA board come summer, there must be an eventual plan in place to remove them, as well.

    We’ll tackle this from an entirely different angle on Monday, with an open letter to CSA director-at-large Mike Traficante.


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