By Bob Mackin Vancouver Courier
Canada misses World Cup, again
Honduran victory disqualifies national soccer team
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Canada is not going to the World Cup.
Honduras, a banana republic slightly larger than Newfoundland with the population equal to Quebec, beat Canada 3-1 last Saturday to end the disappointing quest for a berth in South Africa 2010.
For the sixth consecutive World Cup, Canadians who love the beautiful game will have to find the flag of another country to cheer. Which means you’ll have to endure that co-worker with the yellow Brazil jersey who doesn’t know that Brazilians spell their homeland “Brasil.” Or the one who proudly sports the sky blue and white stripes of Argentina but still thinks Maradona is a sexy singer.
Canada missed out on Italy 1990, USA 1994, Korea-Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 after a brief, goal-less appearance in Mexico 1986. It’s a national embarrassment because more people play soccer in the nation of hockey than play hockey.
I can’t expect to see a Canadian raise the trophy in my lifetime, but is it too much to ask for Canada’s FIFA-sanctioned soccer federation to make a better effort to join southern amigos the U.S. and Mexico in the world’s biggest quadrennial sporting event?
It’s clear the Canadian Soccer Association–whose responsibility it is to operate the national team–has failed miserably. The solution? Nationalize it.
Heck, if the free-enterprise, “go buy your own health insurance, pinko!” Americans can do it with some of the biggest Wall Street players, then why can’t the Harper Tories punt the CSA’s management and board of directors for the good of the game and the pride of our country?
What else? Begin an immediate global search for the right minds to ensure the team qualifies for Brazil 2014. Move the headquarters out of Ottawa and place it closer to corporate Canada in Toronto or Calgary. Make Vancouver, the nation’s soccer hotbed, the permanent coaching and training headquarters.
Choose either University of B.C. or Simon Fraser University to host the training centre, based on whichever school agrees to field men’s and women’s teams when it joins NCAA. That will allow for repatriation of the dozens of Canadians who go south on scholarships. It’s nice to see young Canadians excel on their own, scattered around the globe. It would be nicer to see them develop at home, too.
Contracting out to IMG has brought new sponsors on board, but it has not taught the CSA any new tricks. It can’t sell the steak or the sizzle because it can’t work a barbeque.
Hire a vice-president of marketing and create an in-house division to promote the players. Rip-up the contract with Rogers Sportsnet and ensure all national team games are broadcast and webcast live on a channel that cares. Canadian men’s national team players could walk down the streets of most cities unnoticed. The women enjoy only slightly better recognition.