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Neil Davidson: Organizers, CSA Clash

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Organizers, CSA clash


TORONTO (CP) - The promoter of an indoor old-timers' soccer event has accused the Canadian Soccer Association of a "money grab" by demanding a cut of the proceeds from Legends of Soccer tournaments in Calgary and Toronto.

The CSA, in turn, says the request for eight per cent of the gross gate receipts has been in its constitution for decades, is standard operating procedure for it as the sanctioning body of soccer, and is not out of whack with other governing bodies. "We take the position, as FIFA takes the position, that all forms of the game are under the jurisdiction of the national body," Kevan Pipe, COO of the Canadian Soccer Association, said Friday from Ottawa.

Legends organizer Howard Silver disagreed.

"I'd call it a money grab," Silver said in a conference call from Calgary. "Especially since I don't know of any business deal where someone asks for a cheque for $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 (and) refuses to meet with you. It's just outrageous."

Lawyers for Silver argue CSA rules do no apply because "the Legends is not a provincial/territorial association, district association, league or club." They maintain the Legends is a "one-day entertainment event designed to showcase the athletic prowess of various soccer players."

The Legends of Soccer features old-timer teams from Manchester United and Liverpool, along with two local sides. They will play Jan. 22 in Toronto at Air Canada Centre and Jan. 23 in Calgary at the Saddledome.

Silver, who expects to draw 10,000 to 12,000 in both cities, said the events will go ahead as scheduled - with no payment going to the CSA.

The touring Legends include Vivian Anderson, Ronnie Whelan, Jan Molby and Lee Sharpe. The indoor old-timers' version of the game is popular in Britain, where a 35-over league was formed in 1998 and there are now 32 teams.

The Canadian events will feature 16-minute matches. Each side has 12 players with six on the pitch at one time.

Pipe said his association has been in discussion with the Legends promoters since the beginning of December.

"They have had dozens of communications both from us and from the provincial body," he said.

"I'm perplexed," he added. "They know what the rules are."

Silver fears that the Alberta Soccer Association may suspend local players involved in his event.

"The players are really upset and concerned about this."

Pipe declined to say what might happen if the organizers refuse, other to say that the association can call for a disciplinary committee to investigate the matter.

"These rules and regulations have been in our rules for decades, quite frankly," Pipe said. "They're public, they're on our website and we simply direct our provincial associations to implement those rules and regulations whenever those events are taking place. ... These rules apply to everybody."

CSA rules, in the case of an exhibition game involving a foreign professional team call for 5 1/2 per cent of the gross gate receipts to go to the CSA - two per cent of which goes to CONCACAF - and 2 1/2 per cent goes to the provincial association.

"So we're talking really small dollars in the big scheme of things ... these are operational fees," Pipe said, adding the U.S. has a similar fee structure - nine per cent as opposed to the Canadian eight.

The rules also call for organizers to request permission in writing from the Canadian association, with visiting foreign teams also needing permission to play from their own national body.

Canadians set to play the legends include Paul James, Paul Kitson, Hector Marinaro Jr., Lyndon Hooper, Tom Kouzmanis and Carmine Isacco (international team) and Eddy Berdusco, Paolo Ceccarelli, Tony Tavares and Willy Giummarra (Italian-Portuguese team).

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