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Every four years, since 1986, Canadians have been painfully reminded that they simply aren’t good enough at soccer to compete with the 67 other nations that have qualified for the most important global sporting event, the World Cup Final, since that time. In fact, Canadians soccer players are so atrociously inept that they have failed to make the final continental qualifying grade on their last four attempts. This shameful record of futility was blatantly accentuated by the 8-1 disintegration at San Pedro Sula in Canada’s last qualifying match.

So why are Canadians so repeatedly humiliated on the international soccer pitch? Are they physically inferior or defective? Are they intellectually deficient? Are they economically deprived? In every other form of social interaction Canadians have proven to be more than capable of holding their own within the international community, so why is it that they fail so miserably at the beautiful game? Is there an international refereeing conspiracy against Canada? Has every head and interim coach of the Canadian national team suffered from a gambling addiction that caused them to intentionally throw matches in order to cash in on large bets to supplement their meager salaries? Or could it possibly be that the Canadian Soccer Association has absolutely no will what so ever to take the initiative in helping establish a national soccer structure that will ultimately develop Canadian talent into internationally competitive players?

Going out on a limb, I will focus exclusively on shedding light on the total lack of leadership that exists within the CSA as being the true cause for Canada’s unacceptable predicament, which every Canadian with an inkling of interest in soccer knows is the lack of a professional Canadian soccer structure.

Ever since the demise of the Canadian Soccer League in 1992, there have been no other attempts to launch another professional soccer structure. The CSA, when it is convenient to do so, has frequently shed itself of this responsibility by claiming it is an Association, and therefore is not responsible for organizing a domestic league. Although this may have been a valid argument many years ago, in today’s world it holds little water. Take for instance the United States as an example. FIFA awarded the USSF the right to host the 1994 World Cup Final on the condition that the Americans would organize a professional domestic soccer league, hence the MLS and all the positive things that have happened to soccer in the United States since then. On the other hand, since the demise of the Canadian Soccer League, the CSA has gone as far as to commission a pair of independent studies to consider the feasibility of establishing another professional league in Canada. Unfortunately, the clandestine modus operandi of the CSA never allowed the findings of these two studies to see the light of public scrutiny, yet it seems safe to assume that based on the governing body’s 20-year silence and inactivity that no such project is about to be undertaken at any time during the tenure of Mr. Victor Montagliani, the current president of the CSA. The lack of disclosure with regards to the two studies is especially regrettable, since a more open approach could only lead to discussions that would be beneficial in helping extract new ideas to solving the challenges that stand in the way of establishing a professional domestic structure. Thus, the financial resources allocated to these studies have been totally wasted by the CSA.

It appears that Mr. Victor Montagliani, the current president of the CSA, has thrown his arms up into the air, surrendering to the perception that a Canadian professional soccer league is a hopeless proposition. One could argue that his point of view was confirmed by the failure of the CSL and was also supported by the two undisclosed studies. This argument could be taken one step further by pointing out that the sheer geographical size of Canada and the relative distribution of its population make the establishment of a professional coast-to-coast soccer league a seemingly impossible task from a financial perspective. Thus, Mr. Montagliani might indeed be correct with his assessment that a professional league is not a viable proposition at this time, but does this mean that a professional league is the only available option for Canada, or are there other professional structures that could provide a very suitable Canadian championship and therefore deserve to be considered?

Through the historical research that have I conducted to write my soccer book, an idea began to emerge for a soccer structure that is tailored to meet the specific challenges that are unique to Canada. These experiences from the past could also be applied to designing a present-day structure if Canada’s governing soccer body had the will to support such a venture.

The most imminent questions that remain to be answered at this time are: If the CSA was willing to invest in two studies that advised against establishing a professional domestic league, would the CSA now be interested to invest in a plan that concludes that the establishment of a professional Canadian soccer structure is a viable possibility? How serious is Mr. Montagliani about changing the plight of Canadian soccer? Based on his performance in the time he has been in office, how much confidence do Canadians have in Mr. Montagliani’s leadership abilities to affect any meaningful improvements? Does Mr. Montagliani have a plan to address the current unacceptable state of Canadian soccer? If so, what is it? Per favore Vitorio, non parla piu piano. Or does Mr. Montagliani intend to maintain the long-standing status quo of there being no professional soccer structure in Canada, playing only a few international friendlies per year, none of which will be played in Canada, and proceeding to operate with an interim head coach for as long as possible? What does Mr. Montagliani plan to do for Canadian soccer in 2013 beyond talking about grassroots?

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I received an interesting email from Alfons Rubbens, the editor of InsdeSOCCER Magazine, this morning. In his letter there is a survey question, “How to make Soccer Even Better,” the results of which will be published in the February/March 2013 issue, which also happens to be the 100th edition of his great Canadian soccer magazine.

As I recall, there was a very similar survey entitled “SOCCER: Making it Work in Canada?” that appeared in the November/December 2006 issue of ISM. Here are some of the responses that were submitted 6 years ago:

Kevan Pipe (COO of the CSA) – Aside from tooting his own horn (typical from a guy who did so little), Kevan encouraged readers to: “Buy your tickets today and get involved.” Jeez. Thanks Kevan.

Robert Iarusci ((Chairman Toronto Azzurri SC) – Bob pointed out that Canada’s woes were “directly related to the severely lacking development of senior level club.” He also felt that “Our federal and provincial bodies need to admit that soccer in Canada cannot improve any further unless we provide our minor player aspirations of playing the game at a higher level.”

Paul Stalteri (Tottenham Hotspur and CNT player) – Paul said, “Our governing body, the Canadian Soccer Association needs to be more transparent so that its decisions are made public and its officials held accountable.” Bang on Paul.

Bob Koep (Soccer columnist) – Bob was of the opinion that “it should be the mandate of the Canadian Soccer Association to set up a meaningful league structure rather than the current situation.”

Joe Petrone, (former Director of Operations Edmonton Aviators) – Joe pointed out that: “The game in Canada will never truly take shape until we see a pro league across this country.”

Alf De Blasis (Host of Italian Championship soccer) – Alf notes that “The game in Canada is really only celebrated every four years during the World Cup.”

Stephen Hart (Interim coach CNT) – Coach Hart states, “In order or the game to truly progress in this country we need our own professional league.”

Gary Miller (President Bryst Academy) – Gary feels “We need to start developing players that will be promoted and watched at home.”

Cary Kaplan (President Cosmos Sports, CSL) – Cary feels that, “On its current path the game itself will only draw the die-hards and the old soccer enthusiasts.”

Ahhh, how soon we forget. A fault the CSA has capitalized on for many, many years. Obviously, Canadian soccer still finds itself in the same rut it was in 6 years ago. Equally obvious is the fact that during that time the CSA has done absolutely nothing to fix the things that were pointed out in that survey as being broken. It will be interesting to see how similar the responses well be six years later in the next issue of ISM. Einstein once said that it is insane to expect a different outcome if nothing changes. Therefore, if the CSA does nothing to alter the structure of the Canadian soccer landscape, then the outcome of Canada’s next World Cup campaign is already apparent, and there will be no need to buy a copy of ISM 6 years from now, because it will only be a reprint of the past issues that have already pointed out the same old issue: THE INCOMPETENT LEADERSHIP OF THE CSA.

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