Canadian Soccer Association Archive

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State of the MLS roundtable: Since there’s no movement on roster equality, now is the time for Canada to get tough

Well, at Tuesday’s roundtable, Garber confirmed that there isn’t going to be a new approach. When pressed by Leduc, Garber retreated back to the argument that U.S. labour law prevents Canadians from being domestics on American soil. He said a Canadians can’t be treated any differently than a Mexican, a Honduran or a Brit. So, Garber made it clear that the status quo will remain — and that roster equality will not become reality in MLS.

Don Garber began his roundtable with a group of five selected journalists with an overture intended for Canadian ears. He said that if Canada doesn’t qualify for a World Cup in his time as MLS commissioner, “It will be a mark I truly regret.”

He said he wanted to work with the Canadian Soccer Association, and that the United States, Canada and Mexico together could be soccer powerhouse.

The feel-good vibes lasted until it was time for RDS’s Patrick Leduc to ask his question. He asked the commissioner about the league’s stance on roster rules as they pertained to Canadians. In MLS, Canadians are recognized as domestics on Canadian teams, but as imports on American teams. But Americans are domestics in both countries. In July, Garber said “We are working on a new approach to our international player rules as they relate to Canada. Stay tuned.”

Well, at Tuesday’s roundtable, Garber confirmed that there isn’t going to be a new approach. When pressed by Leduc, Garber retreated back to the argument that U.S. labour law prevents Canadians from being domestics on American soil. He said a Canadians can’t be treated any differently than a Mexican, a Honduran or a Brit. So, Garber made it clear that the status quo will remain — and that roster equality will not become reality in MLS.
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Round one to the CSA: Human Rights Tribunal co-chair won’t rush the turfgate case

fwwc2015_oe_4ct_lThe Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has rejected a plea to expedite its hearing of the grass vs. turf case.

A group of women’s players, including Americans Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, Germany’s Nadine Angerer and Japan’s Yuki Ogimi had petitioned the HRTO to hear their plea against the use of artificial turf fields at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA have defended the use of the artificial-turf fields, while the women’s players named in the suit (a total of 15 on the document) wanted to speed the case forward in hopes of getting a ruling in favour of grass in time for it to have an impact on the WWC.

The CSA’s lawyers have stated that they doesn’t feel the HRTO has the jurisdiction to rule on a Women’s World Cup, as five of the six venues being used in the tournament are located outside of the province of Ontario.

On Friday, HRTO co-chair Jo-Anne Pickel rejected the players’ plea to expedite the case, basically killing any chance to have it heard in time to have a meaningful impact on the WWC.

She wrote that, as expedited cases put all other matters before the HRTO on the back burner, it would be unfair to all the other applicants. It would be unfair of the HRTO to delay other cases of racial, workplace and/or gender discrimination to accommodate the players.
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Turfgate: FIFA’s Valcke affirms that a men’s World Cup could be staged on turf

fifa-logoIn an interview/press release posted on FIFA.com, FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said that a men’s World Cup played on artificial turf could be organized sooner rather than later.

More of Valcke’s statement:

“By the way, for many years now, any organizer of a FIFA event — irrespective of whether it be a men’s or women’s competition, including the men’s World Cup – has had the right to propose for the tournament to be played on artificial turf, provided that it is of the highest quality and the same playing surface is used for all venues and training sites. It could well be that sooner rather than later the men’s World Cup will also be played on artificial pitches. The Canadian Soccer Association proposed for the tournament to be played on artificial turf based on the fact that most sporting infrastructure in Canada is on artificial turf, primarily due to the extreme climate in the host country. It would be very difficult to ensure solid natural-grass pitches at all venues. As has already been explained, this is not a question of money, or of differences between men’s and women’s events, but it is a matter of the natural conditions in Canada: We want to guarantee consistent top-level playing conditions for all 24 teams during the event, both in the official stadiums and at the training sites. This has been the sole reason behind the decision to play on artificial turf from day one.”

This statement is an important one. While no doubt many will scoff at the notion of a men’s World Cup being played on turf — and will say that Valcke is simply playing politics — this statement from a top FIFA official carries weight. Why? The legal team representing the women’s players who are taking the CSA to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario claim that their clients are being asked to play their World Cup on turf, when it’s something FIFA would never ask of the men. But FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association can now say, “if it’s good enough for women, it’s good enough for men.”
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Turfgate: Canadian Soccer Association will argue Ontario tribunal has no right to rule on Women’s World Cup venues in other provinces

fwwc2015_oe_4ct_lThe Canadian Soccer Association and its lawyers are prepared to argue that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has no jurisdiction to hear a complaint that the use of turf surfaces at the 2015 Women’s World Cup is an example of gender inequality.

That’s because the HRTO is a provincial body, not a federal one. And, because five of the six venues for the Women’s World Cup are outside of the province of Ontario, the question is why the HRTO would hear the case in the first place. The final will be held at BC Place in Vancouver. More games will be held in Alberta — at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium — than any other host city. So why hear the case in Ontario?

Sean Hern, a lawyer with the Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP firm that’s representing the CSA, says it’s the legal question that his side will press at the tribunal. In a conference call held Wednesday, he said it is “unclear how tribunal would have jurisdiction over playing surfaces and stadiums in another province.”

In the minds of the CSA and its lawyers it’s “likely” that the HRTO does not have jurisdiction over what goes on in other provinces, and Hern says it’s a matter that will be argued.

A group of elite women’s players have applied to the HRTO to hear their pleas for the 2015 WWC to not be held on artificial turf. They claim it’s a second-class surface which causes more injuries than playing on grass. But the CSA claims that turf surfaces designated as FIFA two-star are first-class, and are allowed by the sport’s governing body.
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11

The elephant in the room: CFL is the forgotten partner in the Women’s World Cup turf-vs.-grass debate

imgresWhen it comes to the looming legal action against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association over the decision to stage next year’s Women’s World Cup on artificial turf surfaces, there are some rather large elephants in the room who are choosing to remain quiet.

And those are the Canadian Football League teams. They stand to have further disruption to their seasons if the owners of the multipurpose stadiums being used for the WWC would have to tear up the turf and lay down grass.

On Friday, a deadline imposed by the lawyers for U.S. star Abby Wambach and her cadre of anti-turf allies went by. All FIFA did to, ahem, mark the occasion was to publicly confirm that an independent company has been hired to ensure that all of the game and practice fields in the Canadian host cities will meet the highest standard for artificial surfaces (CLICK HERE). So, the next step would be for Wambach and co. to follow through on their threats and take the Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA to task through a human-rights tribunal or, maybe, eventually to court.

Now, I’ve read through the legal briefs, and I’ve gone through a lot of the pro and con articles out there. But, one thing no one talks about, whether it’s from Wambach’s group or those who say we can lay down grass and then pull it up (CLICK HERE), is how it affects the other users of the stadiums.

There is definitely an arrogance out there amongst the anti-turf crowd; because the movement has been spurred outside of Canada, they have very little idea about the stadiums being used. They don’t seem to understand that these are shared, multipurpose facilities. In 2014, the Canadian Football League was quite accommodating, having the Edmonton Eskimos clear out of Commonwealth Stadium in order for U-20 Women’s World Cup matches to be played there. Next year, the sacrifices will be greater; the Ottawa RedBlacks, the Eskimos, the BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will all have their seasons affected.
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FIFA to send independent company to “ensure” quality of Canada’s Women’s World Cup turf

fifa-logoFIFA is going to contract an independent inspector to ensure that Canada’s artificial turf fields are indeed good enough to host a Women’s World Cup.

After the Executive Committee wrapped up its meetings in Zurich, FIFA made this announcement: “Regarding the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada, the executive ratified the decision to assign an independent company to travel to Canada in order to test pitches and training fields to ensure they fulfil the FIFA quality requirements.”

The Canadian Soccer Association says it will not make any comments about the timing of FIFA’s announcement, as this was a directive that the Association already knew about. It confirmed that the process of vetting the fields has actually already begun. Surfaces in Edmonton and Moncton are already approved. The goal is to have approval of the match surface and two training fields in each of the host cities.

American star Abby Wambach is leading a group of elite women’s players who have launched legal action against the exclusive use of artificial turf at next year’s Women’s World Cup. They claim the use of turf is a case of gender bias, as no men’s World Cup has ever been staged on artificial turf.

FIFA approves the use of artificial turf for international matches, as long as the surface meets FIFA’s star-rating system.
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NASL Commissioner Peterson: Canadian expansion talks in next 60-90 days

Bill Peterson

Bill Peterson

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson was in Edmonton for Sunday’s game between the Eddies and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He was on hand to thank Edmonton City Council for approving the new $1.25-million permanent-football-line free turf that was installed at Clarke Stadium in July.

Of course, when he met with the press, the subject of expansion and a rumoured NASL Canada league came up.

And he said some expansion conversations are heating up.

“We have had discussion in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and over the next 60 to 90 days we expect to have more discussions in Canada,” said Peterson.
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Breaking down Michael Bradley’s comments, by the numbers: Do Canadian refs really favour American teams?

Dave Gantar: Even though he got the call wrong, is he owed an apology?

Dave Gantar: Even though he got the call wrong, is he owed an apology?

Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley crossed a line on Saturday night.

After Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Chicago, which saw Edmonton-based referee Dave Gantar rule out what would have been Gilberto’s winning goal for a phantom push on a Chicago defender, Bradley vented his frustration. And it was captured on the TFC’s official video feed (CLICK HERE).

“They continue to assign Canadian referees whenever an American team is playing against an Canadian team… they are going to go make a conscious effort to show that they are not being biased one way or another. It’s not the first time we’ve had this guy this year. What can I say? He’s just not good enough?”

A player moaning about officials is nothing new. But it wasn’t that Bradley was simply calling out Gantar for missing a call. He was suggesting that there was a motive behind the call. He suggested that Canadian referees are making “conscious efforts” to call their games a certain way.

It’s one thing to challenge a referee’s eyes or even a referee’s judgement. But the second you challenge the official’s character, you need to back that up.

Did Gantar make the wrong call on Glberto? Yes. Even the opposing coach, Frank Yallop, allowed that his Fire side was fortunate.

“It didn’t look like it was a foul, or whatever the ref called. We got lucky on that one,” Yallop said after the game.

But, let’s make this clear. There’s a big difference between a blown call and a blown call because of bias. And Bradley suggested the latter.
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Canadian quotas are price USL must pay for not having Canada at the table when MLS deal was hatched

Victor Montagliani

Victor Montagliani

Back in 2013, Major League Soccer announced its partnership plan with (officially regarded as) third division USL-PRO.

But there was a problem. It was an American agreement made with the oversight of American authorities. For MLS, which is a North American league, shutting Canada out of the process was a major problem.

So, now, both MLS and USL-Pro have to reap what they have sown. As the Montreal Impact (Montreal FC), Vancouver Whitecaps (New Westminster) and Toronto FC (maybe a team north of the city) move ahead with plans for affiliate USL-Pro teams for 2015, we have learned they will be subject to pretty tough quotas.

As reported by Duane Rollins in Canadian Soccer News (link here), any USL-PRO team affiliated with a Canadian MLS team will have to follow some strict roster rules. Half of the players on the squad must be Canadian-eligible, and six of the 11 starters must be Canadian-eligible.

By “eligible” we mean that, if Canadian national-team coach Benito Floro made the call, that player would be available to go.

The move will likely prevent teams from stashing foreign talent on their USL-PRO rosters, or treat their affiliates like true minor-league clubs. That’s fine. The Whitecaps have sent established non-Canadian pros to NASL’s FC Edmonton on loan in the past, and the two teams still have a strong relationship. Toronto FC sent Ryan Richter to the Ottawa Fury. No reason that the Fury can’t continue to build relationships with TFC and the Impact.
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CSA hopeful that Women’s World Cup will spur NWSL to expand to Canada

NWSL-Logo-516x340The Canadian Soccer Association funds the salaries of 14 NWSL players this season.

But, the hope is that soon there will actually be a Canadian team in North America’s top women’s soccer circuit. Currently, the Canadian players are spread through nine U.S.-based franchises. Peter Montopoli, the Canadian Soccer Association’s General Secretary, hopes that it will change after Canada hosts the Women’s World Cup in 2015.

“Absolutely. We believe that, after 2015, the interest will be there for at least one city to be a part of NWSL,” said Montopoli. “The interest will merit it…. It certainly presents an opportunity for an owner (in Canada) to be part of NWSL. We have had those initial discussions with NWSL but we’re currently waiting to see the success of 2015 before we get there.”

Montopoli was in Edmonton Wednesday to make a presentation to the city’s Chamber of Commerce. It was interesting to note that, when he explained the CSA’s relationship with NWSL to Edmonton’s business community, he called this country a “partner” in the league, along with the U.S. and Mexican soccer federations. He did not simply say that Canada had the option to pay the salaries of up to 16 players in the league.
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