Hey Now, It’s Not All Bad: An Optimistic Look at Big Time Soccer in Canada

Hey Now, It’s Not All Bad: An Optimistic Look at Big Time Soccer in Canada

Look, the press about soccer in Canada leading up to our first World Cup appearance since the OG Top Gun was in theatres hasn’t been great. But maybe we are looking at it the wrong way. Where is our trademark Canadian optimism? Let’s go back through the headlines and look for some silver linings.

Clothes

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Okay, so we aren’t getting brand new World Cup specific kits. So what?! We can still rock the kits that got us here. They have seen it all, torrential rain-soaked pitches in the tropics and frozen carpets in the north, and they held up. And the fact that the most popular ones – black – could have doubled as an old-timey referees get-up might be just enough to distract the old-timey Belgian and Croatian players in the group stage. I don’t know, get our defenders to pull red cards out of their pockets during stoppages in play and see if anyone bites. Plus, we have Borjan’s pants.

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 08: Tajon Buchanan #11 of Canada celebrates after scoring a goal during a 2022 World Cup Qualifying match against El Salvador at BMO Field on September 8, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

We can also lean into our environmentalist image. Why not brand the Nike training gear as, “Recycle-Fit.” Then we could do a little well-deserved bragging about how our team(s) have a much smaller carbon footprint than the other 31 WC nations as a result of our teams laundering their stuff for U-20 2023 qualifiers.

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Finally, in the sartorial section we can finally celebrate how good our board will look in our black (probably) wool suits in the blazing Qatar sun. And at least we won’t be embarrassed having spent $11,000 for the whole lot of them. Not in front of a nation that sells off-the-rack Dolce & Gabbana suits at the airport for $15,000 a pop. Well at least we didn’t get carried away bragging about them in a “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” kind of spoof. Positive!

Negotiations

So, the MNT may have originally asked for 100% of the WC bonus plus GST, and completely forgotten that the WNT/XNT existed at the same time. But I choose to see that champagne flute as half full. Clearly the gaffer has them fully focused on the pitch if their initial foray into athletic remuneration was so substantially wide of the mark. Go team! And now lawyers are involved, so that can only help.

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As for the other side of the table, I’m surprised the Canada Soccer Board has been taking such a beating on social media. Although they weren’t available to talk much in the nearly three years since they signed the CSB deal, Earl has had his phone on non-stop since he found out people were calling in June of this year. The battery-charging bills for his Blackberry alone are eye-popping. They are ready to get down to brass tacks. Soon. Very soon. Just got to hold out a few more weeks.

Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis, right, speaks as interim general secretary Earl Cochrane listens during a news conference, in Vancouver on Sunday, June 5, 2022.  (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

And speaking of the CSB deal, that was a coup for Canada Soccer. Sorry, I meant that led to a coup AT Canada Soccer. Revolution is in the air. It is only a matter of time until this trickles down to your local playground.

I would talk more about that CSB deal, but the first rule of CSB deals, is you don’t talk about CSB deals.

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So, I guess that’s all there is to talk about in this section. Let’s move on to…oh yeah sorry, my bad the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team. Man, are they ever easy to overlook. I mean they’ve only had a voluntarily recognised Player’s Association since 2016 fighting for better recognition and equal pay. But in fairness they have flown under the radar recently, having only won a single Olympic gold medal, to go with a bronze one, since hosting the most widely attended Women’s WC in history in 2015 (And not including the bronze medal before that because it was way back in 2012). Honestly, I don’t even know what they would be trying to negotiate.

Weird World Cup: S. 1 Ep. 29 FC13 Podcast

Well, there we have it ball boys and girls, it's the end of the Canadian World Cup Voyage, but don't cry because it's over. Cry because it happened, but also cry because Canada is out. We managed a goal though, so compared to 1986, we are miles ahead and with so much to look forward to in 2026, let's take a few moments and look back on the Group Stage. What surprised us, what disappointed us, and what do we think is gonna happen. So buckle up as the McCrew talk about your source of all things World Cup.  But be sure to follow us on Twitter @FC13Podcast, and our parent account, @13thManSports for all of your soccer needs! – FC13 Podcast is sponsored by Bet99, enter code 13thManSports1 to get started for all your CPL betting needs. (Never bet what you can't afford to lose)

World Cups

Canada is finally going to the WC for the first time in over three decades. Huh? Oh, yeah sure sorry, Canada’s Men are going to the WC for the first time in 36 years. The women have been at the WC every time since 1995. Wow. They need to get this news out there. Anyway, Qatar. Should be great. If the players can remain focused on the pitch, then this should be a time to remember. And what distractions could there be in Qatar? I mean you are barely allowed to do anything, so we don’t have to worry about them missing curfew, or the fans missing it either.

Image

Ok, so Canada Soccer may have had some image issues going way back, (game fixing, amateurishness, money problems, etc.) but by getting rid of the “the” and “association” (and -ian I guess) they gave themselves a fresh start. Fast-forward to today and they are looking sleek. They have a world class board as evidenced by their worldwide search for their current General Secretary.

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Speaking of images, the players said they are going to protect theirs, or at least their monetary rights to them. What could possibly go wrong with that? The positive spin here is obvious. Fans no longer have to sit by their mailboxes hoping and wondering if their Davies jerseys will ever arrive. They won’t. So, problem solved. Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows!

Alphonso Davies, Canadian Men’s National Team. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)

CSB. I am breaking the first rule. They either have the bad boy image of the corporate bullies who stole Canada Soccer’s (not the Canadian Soccer Association’s) lunch money, then bought their lunch with it and ate it right in front of them, but not before they squirted the drinking box down Canada Soccer’s pants – or – they are the benevolent saviours, who at great financial risk to themselves, swooped in and saved the day by righting the Canada Soccer ship whilst also managing to pull off a Canadian Professional Soccer League in the midst of a pandemic! Wow, what a wide swing, huh? I choose the latter because that is a positive take. And since the players of that league don’t have a union to tell me otherwise about the conditions there, it must be grand. Check!

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I guess that’s it for image. Oh snap, yeah, the women’s national team, I swear I will remember them one time. I guess their image remains that of a patient and understanding bunch of gals just waiting for the boys to hash this all out. And that is all I can imagine because up until now they, unlike Canada Soccer and the Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association (CMNSTPA – wow that was an afterthought, huh?), have done all their negotiating behind closed doors like a group organized in a long-time union might. And that reminds me I forgot to mention them in the clothing round. They didn’t get any either. But I imagine Nike is hard at work on their WC jersey…unless the Australia-New Zealand Tournament is outside of the design schedule window. Well, they can always just wear their gold medal jerseys, that would still look cool, right? Golden lining!

Janine Beckie, left, of Canada battles fort the ball with Emily Gielnik of Australia during the women’s soccer friendly between Australia and Canada at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia on Saturday. (Darren England/AAP Image via AP)

Miscellaneous

I think that is it except for maybe a few odds and ends to look at with the old rose-coloured specs on. TV deals. The WC is on TSN for both 2022 and 2023, so no worries there. Just glad a big TV goliath has stepped up to do the right thing and showcase Canadian soccer in a meaningful way. So that’s a positive.

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Oh, and Canadian Soccer has never been in the news media more than this…so awareness!


And on a grim note, when Canadian soccer seems to be doing everything possible to shoot itself in the foot – from abuse scandals, cover ups, contentious payment negotiations, anti-union activity, financial difficulties – Hockey Canada has ensured that the majority of Canada has no idea this is happening at all. Canadian optimism = equal parts American hubris and dark British humour. It’s how we survive, and that’s a plus too.


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