Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can Somebody Tell Me What Exactly is Wrong with the CSA?

Judging by the eggs next to my comment count and the subsequent drop off of subscribers, I'm going to let my NAFF series lie for little bit to bring you some down-home angst about the state of Canadian soccer...

A brief glance at the Voyaguers, Ben Knight's blog (who's looking at this very question right now), or pretty much anything written by soccer pundits in this country in the past fifteen to twenty years is all you need to ascertain that there is something called the 'CSA,' and that that 'something' is inherently evil and the cause of all soccer-related suffering in this country.

During this brief glance, you will read words like, 'failure,' 'near-sighted' and 'provincial.' But, like a Thomistic proof for the existence of God, one seems to learn about the CSA and what it does only by examining what it has wrought. The consensus there at least is clear -- a failed national soccer program, a failed men's senior national team, and failure to promote the Canadian game at home and abroad.

I have no qualms with these claims. Certainly the brain-trust that appointed Dale Mitchell to coach the senior men's team, the same Dale Mitchell who produced one of the worst-ever performances from a host nation at a major FIFA tournament, should be held accountable for our pitiful but hardly-surprising early elimination from WC 2010. And when players complain on the record that Canada's national set-up is a joke, when the national team takes a ferry-boat to Martinique for a friendly that the CSA didn't deem worthy of recorded statistics, when a governing soccer association determines a friendly in Estonia in the middle of a snow-storm is good prep for playing teams in Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, you have a serious problem.

So the CSA is clearly not helping the Canadian senior men's team. But this is not enough. Since I have a healthy Canadian readership, I would like someone, ANYONE, to help me out on this one. Is the spinoff group Canadian Soccer Federation's list of recommended changes viable or accurate? Is there also a government funding issue, as Ben Knight argued today? Is the taxation level on smaller provincial leagues too low? Are there specific accountability issues, and if so, what are they? And how can us regular joes hop on board to help, other than by wearing black t-shirts at national team games? Please comment...

My own guess here is that this issue might bleed into traditional left/right politics. More on that tomorrow...


Colin Smith said...

I'm still here, Richard!
Ummm. I'm not quite sure what to say about the CSA that hasn't been said, and I cover soccer in Canada. The best summary I have found is from Bobby McMahon's blog:
A volunteer board of directors that in most countries would not be allowed to control a Sunday morning pub team appoints senior staff including the national team coach. A governance and performance study done a few years back by external consultants has been largely ignored which only goes to prove the old adage that the people that get you into problems are never the ones equipped to get you out.

I know that under the heading 'goals' in the CSA constitution the 7th item reads:
National Teams: The Association fields national teams to represent Canada in international competitions.
So it's not like the CSA isn't meeting its goals...
Funding for the national team did go up $1.2 million between 2006-07.

Jamie said...

One (ex-pat) reader here...
I am happy to hear and read about the CSF and their proposal.

Let me put it this way: in the fall of 2000 when it became clear WC2002 was DOA, I felt disappointed and realised I was kind of alone, among my friends, despite still living in Canada. The shiny glimmer was the miraculous Gold Cup win.

The hopeless campaign in 2004 though was just plain depressing and extremely tough grasp when 7000km away.

This time, I am equally angry, disappointed, frustrated, etc... but I read blogs like yours, hear podcasts from the Score, the Fan etc., and have found forums like the Voyageurs.

For once, I feel like the undercurrents are rising to the surface. Perhaps the revolution is around the corner or perhaps we might surprise everyone and clobber Mexico tonight with a cast of bit-player footballers.

In whichever case, there is a continuity like never before because the people are speaking out.

Steve said...

It's about time some people try to step up and clean this mess. Very interesting stuff to read, I hope the CSF is successful.