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Let's re-evaluate every aspect of soccer in Canada

September 2, 2007

Letter to the Editor,

The dysfunctional nature of the CSA is nothing new to anyone who has been paying attention. Colin Linford's resignation simply highlights, once again, the dismal state of soccer's administrative organization in Canada, not just at the national level, but all the way down to the local clubs.

At the national level though it is hard not to be struck by some parallels between the situation in hockey in the late 1960s and soccer in Canada today. In the 1960s hockey was run by an amateur organization, albeit one in thrall to the NHL. The organizational structure of the CAHA, mostly volunteers, and its regional tensions made the administration of international hockey difficult. Throw in the tensions (and binding player contracts) with the NHL and it was becoming impossible for Canada even to send successful junior teams to Europe to compete in international tournaments.

Because it was hockey, there was a national uproar at Canadian losses and more notably by the lack of any coherent national program, in no small measure due to the clear conflicts of interest between the amateur and pro organizations. The federal liberals instituted a national task force in 1969, one of whose recommendations was to bring all the parties together into a new (supposedly) more professionally-run structure called "Hockey Canada."

The 1969 task force report was, in many ways, the Canadian equivalent of Australia's Crawford report -- the report that led to a complete revamping of soccer in Australia and to a new national administrative organization. Many people argue that the Crawford report paved the way for the Australian success in the last world cup, although it is pretty clear that Gus Hiddink had something to do with that as well.

Still, it is clearly time to hold a national commission into the entire state of soccer in Canada. The commission needs to evaluate the whole structure of the game across the country, in addition to suggesting alternatives to the current CSA. It is also important to have people on the commission who are not simply the usual suspects when it comes to soccer in this country. The commission needs to include representatives from the soccer community, but it will also need to have people from outside the game who can develop fresh perspectives and view the current situation in new ways. The precedents are numerous, not only in Australia, but here as well in our own sporting history.

However, soccer is not hockey. Is there anyone in Ottawa who cares enough to apply the necessary political pressure to get this going? Will all soccer fans everywhere join me in writing to their MP to propose this commission? Surely, it is time.

One final aside about Colin Linford. In my view, Linford is a product of the same old boys system that he is now criticizing. His views on women's soccer in particular were regressive to say the least. No tears here for his resignation.

Rick Gruneau

(Rick Gruneau is an SFU professor who has who has written or edited 5 books on the history and politics of sports in Canada. He has also coached soccer teams in the B.C. lower mainland for more than ten years).

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Guest Jeffery S.
quote:Originally posted by Winnipeg Fury

Yes, that's what I thought as well.

Anyone know off hand who the minister of Sport is ?

Are you sure you read this board WF? We put the text of a bloody letter from her on the front page for pete's sake.

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