Look we are new and young and don’t have a proper soccer infrastructure. Well actually we are not young (Canada has had a Soccer Federation since 1912). But we don’t have a proper Soccer infrastructure, that part is true. So how do we fix it?
We fix it with LOVE.
Just kidding. We fix it with hard work, lots of money, cooler heads and love.
Now if only we had some private investors willing to start a pro league to get us started. Oh wait! Cue CSB.
Look, nothing in this world is perfect, not even my razor sharp wit. But we have a group willing to invest in a pyramid in Canada.*
*This is only applies to footy players with penises.
So why all the complaining? Isn’t it rude to look a gift horse in the mouth? Well sometimes you need to hear the full plans right from that horse’s mouth. But so far some of the details are a bit secretive.
But this is how footy works around the world. Pro teams develop their own talent up through their academies (editors note: At time of writing this league doesn’t allow academies, wait that can’t be right) then graduate them to the first team, sell them on to another team for profit, or release them when their contracts expire. But they learn the professionalism it takes to play at the next level by being connected to a professional team. (Again, we don’t yet have academies for this – but we do have Sigmas and Vaughns and Foothills that are run like the elite academies we need. Unfortunately not all teams are connected to a Sigma or a Vaughn or a Foothill).
Another benefit of a fully-backed professional soccer league is that they support the federation, CSA, financially just like pro teams around the world do. I know this seems antithetical with everyone screaming about the CSB funnelling money away from the National Teams. But that is not the whole story. While CSA kind pooped the bed by not holding out for a CSB board spot, or a percentage of all sponsorship earnings above the $3 million plus they receive from CSB, they do get some extra money. All professional teams in Canada have to pay licensing fees for each team and each member. As it stands, it appears the newly-founded CPL already pays much more to the CSA in fees than the incredibly rich MLS teams do on an annual basis. (MLS teams pay $30,000 each plus $2000 for professional member association. CPL teams only pay $20,000 per team and $2000 for member association. But of course there are eight CPL teams, plus future expansion to come. MLS will likely never surpass the three).
So CPL is developing players, and funding the CSA with a flat fee that is guaranteed and licensing fees that will grow. Good job!
Also, something the CSB must be commended for is growing the game locally. When was the last time you saw the National team play in the Prairies? How about the Maritimes? Let’s be honest, what about even anywhere in Quebec?* (Editor’s note: As of time of publishing the CPL does not have a team in Quebec. Wait, that can’t be right).
The professional game, and by extension the national team, grows because fans have a vested interest in it. On a minimum of 14 occasions each year 8 communities gather together to sing, chant, cheer and financially support the professional game of soccer in Canada. The CSB did this. And a spin-off impact of this is creating some new fans of the game (I am aware that there is a lot of overlap between National team, MLS and CPL fandoms, but new fans are not zero). So kids in the crowd seeing a pathway to a career in their homeland add to the potential retention of elite players that could one day play for Canada. Think of all the quality “late-bloomers” we have already seen in the CPL. Waterman and MacNaughton come to mind. But Loturi should get a shot at the national team possibly. And who knows where players like Woobens Pacius or Zachary Fernandez could be in a few years. Daniel Krutzen now has his Permanent Resident status. What if future international CPLers apply for citizenship? We have a new pathway for dual nationals.
Thank you CSB. And let’s keep this growing.
Of course you aren’t off the hook. Keep up the renegotiations. Follow up on the promise to have XNT “send-off” matches in CPL stadiums at no cost. Maybe put CSA on the board?
There is always room for improvement, but you are off to a good start. Dump the lack of transparency, and finish of the long-awaited Collective Agreement with your players and you will be swimming in good vibes. Ok, maybe not swimming in them, but getting there.
Ok done. But why do I feel like I’m missing something? Oh yeah, our national afterthought, women. Dudes (and yes the CSB board is all dudes, surprise) you need to think of women’s soccer as a viable business, not some sort of charity. It is the fastest growing segment of your game. Please heed Commissioner Noonan’s words and get on this (hopefully you are in communication with Project 8).
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
Let’s start with the women. Keep doing what you’re doing. You have negotiated behind closed doors for so long in good faith. Had a Player’s Association since 2016 to work for the players. And you’ve dealt with the casual misogyny and sexism of the soccersphere with such grace.
If I have any notes it’s additional solidarity. You have been amazing in your support of the men, even when they weren’t always so supportive of you. But you may have missed an opportunity to link up in some manner with PFACan. I mean they will get to see the CSB books in order to hammer out their Collective Agreement, at least partially. It is the standard process in CBAs across sports in North America. And they’ve hired actual labour experts, so you can avoid any missteps in the future, like illegal job actions.
I know some will want me to say you should cut out getting so “emotional” in all these public complaints. Of course I won’t go there because the underlying theme there is misogyny right? I mean who was it on the women’s team that fell to her knees in a farcical show of desperation? What, that wasn’t you, it was Dr. Nick? Oh yeah.
But who was it that casually dismissed the concerns of the other side as “bitching”. Dr. Nick again? Huh.
Oh wait, I got you on this one. Deciding to throw the toys out of the pram over your dispute with the CSA by taking on an illegal job action. Why would you do that? Oh you were following the lead set out by the CMNT which cost the federation millions, but got them the largest funding for a World Cup in Canadian history and no sanctions. Umm, I guess we’re done here. Now go win a World Cup on a slashed budget!
Okay Men’s National Team. You’re up. Could you have done anything better? Let’s see:
⁃ You held a wildcat strike and cost our federation millions
⁃ You didn’t form a players association until after you found out about CSB
⁃ You hired a glitzy American Law Firm and promptly took a dig at the league that Canadian players are trying to build with the CSB at home (while never meeting with their PA as far as I can tell, despite them working with CSB on a Collective Agreement that you could’ve taken notes on)
⁃ You forgot to mention the XNT in your first public tirade
⁃ And you may have shown some cracks in the united front when one player negotiated his own image rights deal without you
I’ll stop there. Get it together lads. We have work to do in this camp. But I have faith you’ll get there eventually.
This is for the Board. I can’t even with you. So many good, hard-working people down the line affiliated with Canada Soccer are taking a beating by being painted with the same brush as you, and only you deserve it. No meaningful change at the top. A press release on the eve of the Women’s testimony to the Standing Committee that was somewhat dismissive and disingenuous. Especially since some of the things you cited yourself as kinda doing were news to your partners at XNT. Be better. Even having Dr Nick slink off the board was a fail because he slinked (slunk?) into a gold-lined leather office chair at Concacaf for big bucks. What a punishment!
But I have some advice. Use your leverage for good. Are we short money? Instead of jacking up fees for families, jack it up on professional teams. The billionaire boys club at MLS will barely feel it (I’m sure they’ll bristle, you don’t become billionaires by giving away money). But they have been enjoying the benefits of Federation recognition on the cheap for a while. So let them know the free ride is over. It should sound like Goodfellas. “Wanna play in Champions League? Pay me! Wanna shot at the Voyageurs Cup? Pay me! Your Stadium burned down? Too bad. Pay me!” What’s Ray Liotta doing now? He should be the next Canada Soccer President.
And if CSB is open to renegotiating, as they have suggested, then try to get a board seat or a small percentage on sponsorship monies above the $3 million plus you already get. Win-win.
I have more, but let’s face it, you need your instructions in bite size chunks.
The Rest of Us
Look last time I said we had a role to play. And we do. Consider sitting out your next men’s/women’s/co-ed season until the CSA gets that you are not their patsies. Pull your little kids from the club this year. Trust me missing a year of u-5 isn’t gonna kill their (your) World Cup dreams.
Join a board. Sit in at a protest. Write a strongly worded letter. But do something.
And in those protests offer a vision of what you’d like to see done better by the CSA. What should they be enforcing that they aren’t? What problems in the provinces can they help solve? What things need to be more uniform across Canada? You have a voice, use it.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. This is going to take time. But let’s agree on some first steps
(You can also bring banners, purple shirts and/or tifos to MLS Canada and CanPL games to voice your displeasure at the whole mess. They’ll love it.
I’m sure you aren’t listening, but just in case, get your heads out of your butts. The biggest game in the world is untouched and unrealized here. Get in on the ground floor. WoSo is cheap to get into and growing fast. And we are among the best nations in the planet at it. What do you need, a sign from above?
Don’t get me wrong, some are on the right track. Canadian Tire is moving in, and moving towards, pay equity in sports sponsorship. Banks are getting behind the game. And I mean just look at what Osmow’s has contributed to the canadian soccer world. *chef’s kiss!
Do something meaningful with your largesse. Support the game. Oh, and stop profiteering off a pandemic too if you get the chance. (I know you see me Galen!)
Anyway, that’s my advice for fixing soccer in Canada. I haven’t touched some of the messier stuff, like ending little fiefdoms, and legislating transparency and oversight, but we’ll get there. Start my baby steps program first though. You’re welcome Canada!
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