CSA president says Canadians should focus on qualifying for Copa America, not bellyaching over the process

Victor Montagliani

Victor Montagliani

On Thursday morning, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF made it official. The Copa America will be pan-American tournament in 2016.

There were shouts of joy, as the lucrative American and Mexican television markets will be ensured marquee match-ups between the two CONCACAF powers and the big boys from South America. Of course, the Americans and Mexicans would get two automatic qualifying spots for Copa America. It makes good business and sporting sense.

But, when it come to the remaining CONCACAF slots in the Copa America… it doesn’t seem very equitable to Canada.

The winners of the CentroAmerica tourney (which, by nature of geography, Canada doesn’t participate in) and the winner of the Caribbean championship (which, by nature of geography, Canada doesn’t participate in) each get spots in the Copa America.

That leaves two spots, which will be determined in a playoff of top teams from the 2015 Gold Cup.

See, outside of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, every CONCACAF nation is either in a) the Caribbean or b) Central America. Those nations have two avenues to qualification: Through their regional tournaments or through the Gold Cup playoff. Canada has only the Gold Cup process. So, because Canada has the misfortune of being part of the North American landmass, sharing it with the big boys from the United States and Mexico, we are locked out of the process.

But Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani said that we need to be focused on taking one of the spots that are available to us, and shouldn’t bellyache about the process.

“You can look at it that way, that the process is unfair, but that’s not how I look at it,” Montagliani said. “I think that the days of excuses are over. For us, we have the ability to qualify for a spot, and we have to play for it. They have given us an opportunity to play for that spot. It’s a well-balanced approach.”

Basically, in Montagliani’s mind, it’s time for us to put up and shut up, and not worry about the conspiracy theories that come part and parcel with being a CONCACAF member.

When the announcement was made today, former players from the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and Jamaica were on hand in Miami. No Canadian was on the stage. (Maybe none of the Canadian players from the 2000 Gold Cup winning team were available.)

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.