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  • Alberta reps: Delaying reform was "in the best interests of the nation"


    In a letter circulated to the membership of the Alberta Soccer Association (credit: ReformAlbertaSoccer.com), Scott Chen and Ray Calvin (the province's voting representatives at Saturday's special general meeting of the Canadian Soccer Association) take it upon themselves to explain why they decided not to support the original CSA governance reform package.

    ... we were particularly struck by the speed of implementation of the first and second proposals which would have resulted in a substantial turnover in the CSA board in May 2011. Such a sudden and significant turnover did not appear to be in the best interests of the nation ... therefore we decided this morning we would oppose the first two proposals and support the third one.

    The "third" proposal, which passed unanimously, keeps the current CSA board structure intact until 2012, after which a maximum of three provincial association reps may serve on the CSA board. By 2015, no provincial association reps may serve on the CSA board of directors.

    The "first" proposal -- widely supported by followers of the game across the country, including 100% of ASA members who responded to Chen and Calvin's request for input -- would have eliminated all provincial association reps from the CSA board this year.

    In the letter, Chen and Calvin state that their province's rejection of the first proposal "was the sole decision of the two voting members of the ASA's board" -- i.e. the two of them.


    Such a statement will likely do little to quell the outrage felt by members of the Alberta soccer community, whose stated wishes were seemingly ignored by the two men who ostensibly represent them at the national level. It will also likely do little to assuage the fears of those who suspect that Chen and Calvin's decision may have been influenced by staunch anti-reformers either within the Alberta soccer community or the CSA itself.

    Either way, there appears to be little merit to their claim that the first proposal would have been too much, too fast. Its parameters were established at the CSA's annual general meeting last year. Everyone involved has had plenty of time to understand and digest exactly what's at stake. Many -- including Ron Smale, the leader of the country's largest provincial association, the Ontario Soccer Association -- wholeheartedly endorsed implementing full reform now.

    Not in 2012. Not in 2015. But this year.

    Chen and Calvin, of course, were thrust into the ASA spotlight in the aftermath of last month's special general meeting, in which most of the ASA's board was ousted by the membership. Perhaps Chen and Calvin hadn't been paying close enough attention to what was going on at the national level. Perhaps they didn't understand that the question of governance reform has been mulled over, ad nauseam, for many years.

    Perhaps there's no nefarious scheme at play here, and these two individuals simply didn't know any better.

    But in any event, the grim truth is that, had Chen and Calvin chosen to support the first proposal, we likely would have seen full governance reform implemented in 2011.

    Instead, we will need to wait another four years for the board of directors of Canadian soccer's national governing body to be a fully modern, professional entity. This is not to diminish the significance of what took place on Saturday. Many long-suffering fighters in the Canadian soccer trenches likely thought they'd never see the day.

    Yet the release of this letter will leave many wondering ruefully about what might have been. Only Chen and Calvin know for sure what was in their hearts when they cast their votes in Ottawa on Saturday morning. Maybe they truly, earnestly believe that what they did was "in the best interests of the nation".

    It's unclear how many others in the Canadian soccer community would agree with that sentiment.

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