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John Bladen


Echoes Of The Past On Metcalfe Street?

Written by on February 18, 2011 | 7 Comments »
Posted in General

The Canadian Soccer Association is not an organization about which terms like competence, leadership or strong decision making spring immediately to mind.

In the past few weeks, this organization has successfully delayed (some believe effectively gutted) it’s own ‘governance reform’ initiative, ostensibly in the “interests of the nation”.

There has been much written about the reasons for the delays.

The general consensus amongst media (including former MNT members) seems to be that the vote (which, for the record, was in support a much watered down version of the original proposal – one that would see the change in composition of the board phased in over several years – and delayed a full year in implementation) was a ‘great step forward’ for the game in Canada.

With all due respect, I find such suggestions to be utter claptrap.

What exactly are we preserving by delaying implementation of governance reform?

Should poor (occasionally disgraceful) administrative & leadership performance be preserved?

Anyone with even modest familiarity with the “CSA way” of doing things knows exactly what the three year phased implementation will be used for – and it isn’t to bring prospective new board members up to speed.

The window this organization has awarded itself will be used to undermine the goals of reform – to perpetuate the staggering under performance, incompetence and self interest that has pervaded the CSA at the highest levels for decades.

All of this brings us to the issue of Carolina Morace and the Women’s National Team.

Was I the only one having a ‘Groundhog Day’ moment when news of Ms. Morace’s post WC resignation broke?

In the days since, additional information (much of it speculative if not completely unfounded) has leaked out.

This included a shocking impromptu press conference from Mr. Montopoli, in which he claimed that the CSA was “unaware” of any issues and would like to ‘sit down’ with Morace to discuss and hopefully resolve the matter.

Does anyone in the country actually believe that he (much less the CSA) does not already know what the issues are?  Even for an organization with the CSA’s record of being out of touch, this would represent a new low point.  The statement stretches credulity.

When the CSA hired Morace – just two years ago – they did so with the clear direction that she rebuild the national program and create a winner.  This she has done, in record time in my book.  Now, she wants the freedom to control (but not set) her own budget.

If she feels, for example, that the squad needs a ten day warm weather training session to prepare for a tournament and the money for it is in the budget, she wants to simply book the session – not wait for the paper pushers on Metcalfe St. to get around to thinking about it.

This, for the new, reformed, dynamic and forward thinking CSA, was a non-starter.

Does the name Rene Simoes ring a bell?

He agreed to coach the MNT a few years ago.  He had even signed a binding contract to do so.  Then the CSA got wind of the details…  Simoes would have control of the direction of the national programs and player development at the elite level.

“Not on our watch he won’t”

And so, Rene Simoes went away (likely with a sack full of money as settlement).  Simoes may not have been the greatest coach in the world.  But he was unquestionably what was (and is) desperately needed – an internationally qualified coach to take over the national programs and rebuild them.

Then CSA President Colin Linford convinced Simoes that Canada was ready to hand over the program to him and give him the time and resources to make us punch at, rather than 40 places below, our international weight.  Simoes agreed.

And then the CSA pulled the rug out from under both of them.  No expense was spared to ensure that control was retained by the same group that has woefully mismanaged the national programs of this country for decades.

Echoes of the past, indeed.

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7 responses to “Echoes Of The Past On Metcalfe Street?”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Who controls FIFA Rankings?

    le Parrain!

  2. rdm says:

    I really hate reading about the CSA, it’s depressing and infuriating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you wrote about it, it’s just never good news and I always feel powerless to make any contribution other than grumblings.

  3. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:


    I’m a Canadian and I have become totally disenchanted with the national program since 1986. I’ve totally switched off anytime the footy media in this country speaks of the subject. Not because I don’t care … I really do. It’s because I don’t believe anything the suits at the CSA have to say. I’ll believe it, when I see it.

    It is absolute and utter incompetence from the top and it seems to be never ending. To think that a country with about 33 million people and a heavy influx of immigrants from footy loving countries that cannot regularly qualify for the World Cup. We’ve only done so once. It is a national embarassment. Even with only three spots available for the WC there is no excuse. Sure, Mexico and the USA will almost always get the top two spots. But there is no excuse for Canada to get the other one most of the time. None. And we’ve done it only once. Shameful. An utter disgrace.

    In professional sports such incompetence would be solved with changing the players, then the coach, then the GM, and finally a change in ownership. We’ve done all the above except change the ownership in Canada. The problem is the CSA in Canada. And sadly, I’m going to be deaf to it all and I’ll believe it when I see it.

  4. rdm says:

    I’d be curious to read what Jason DeVos thinks about these developments. He seemed genuinely hopeful about the reforms having the ability to do some good.


    RDM – THe first piece is by JDV on the governance reforms linked through a Raves and Rants page from a couple of weeks ago and the second is his comments on the Women’s situation that I believe inspired John’s article.

  6. John Bladen says:

    RDM, thanks.

    I share your frustration with the CSA. I’m sure some of the people working/volunteering there have nothing but the best of intentions. Unfortunately, the CSA has a knack for squandering goodwill amongst it’s members.

    I don’t think Canada can or will ever become a true world power in the game. However, it is a national embarrassment that we are not regularly in the top 50 in world rankings. That we are where we are is down to nothing but mismanagement on the CSA’s part.

  7. John Bladen says:


    Thanks for the links to JDV’s comments. You are right about the second one… generally I like what de Vos has to say, but I found his comments on the Morace situation curious to say the least.


    We live in hope that someday, somehow, someone in government will force the CSA to be accountable for their pathetic performance.

    It won’t be easy. FIFA may even step in. But ultimately, it is tax dollars & rec fees that provide the majority of the CSA’s budget. Either way, that is public money. At some point, they have to be held accountable.

    While I understand your “show me” feelings on the matter, I think the fact that Canadian soccer fans mostly ignore the CSA is one of the main reasons they can survive in the envelope of incompetence they have occupied for so long.

    Shining a ‘light’ on their failings may not lead to change either, but we know that ignoring them won’t do any good.

    Thanks for the comments, all!

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