On the Carolina Morace resignation: Don’t blame CSA for not spending money it doesn’t have By Charles Posted on February 4, 2011 2 0 759 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Carolina MoraceSo, what now for Canada? Carolina Morace, the Italian coach who saved the Canadian women’s program from the thump-the-ball-up-the-field-and-chase-it thuggery promoted by her predecessor, Even Pellerud, will leave the program after the women’s World Cup. The news of Morace’s departure was confirmed through Twitter, with multiple players from the national team fielding questions from the media through their postings — admitting that they knew that their coach had decided to leave. Defender Candace Chapman and keeper Stephanie Labbe said they supported their coach’s decision, but would be sad to see her go. “Very unfortunate for #CANwnt…so much potential on the line, but we support our coaches decision 100%!” tweeted Labbe. Under Morace, the Canadian program has thrived. She has preached a free-flowing midfield, preaching ball possession. Players like Diana Matheson have flourished under her tutelage, as they’ve been allowed to express themselves. When Pellerud left, Canada’s women’s team was sinking in the world rankings, paralyzed by a system that only allowed for booting the ball up for striker Christine Sinclair, and hoping she could outmuscle defenders. Now, Canada plays as a team, understanding that the star also has a supporting cast. The underlying question is that of funding; reports suggest Morace was unhappy about the lack of funds available for an extended training camp ahead of the women’s World Cup and the long-term strategy for the program. Yes, it’s unfortunate that, at the moment, a very competitive women’s team — which likely offers the best chance this country has ever had to make noise at either a men’s or women’s World Cup — can’t train. And, just like every other sport in this country outside of hockey, we can howl about the funding. But the Canadian Soccer Association does not operate in a vacuum. It gets federal government funding. According to the stats included in the CSA’s 2009-2013 Strategic Plan, 18 per cent of the CSA’s funding comes through government grants. Only 17 per cent came from sponsorship, while just two per cent came from merchandise. Those numbers have changed since the plan came out, but it gives you an idea of how the funding model needs to change before the CSA can start handing out cheques to program. The fans are frustrated; but the CSA needs to address revenue streams BEFORE any other issue. The CSA could charge more in user fees and national competitions, but those would be costs passed onto soccer-playing families. Sponsorship and ticket sales are a hard sell with so few home friendlies and the fact that, when Canada does play, it doesn’t make headlines in most of our papers over here. And, merchandise? That’s a horribly low number. The CSA has a tiny TV deal. Compare that to a major European or South American program, which brings in Pay-Per View revenue and massive sponsorships, plus fees that comes from some very big clubs. Basically, the CSA can’t spend money it doesn’t have. We wouldn’t want that from any agency that receives federal funds. We have elected, albeit in a minority role, a Conservative prime minister and the polls are showing that he’d likely keep that role in an upcoming vote. So, it’s not a question of spending money on a Canadian camp; it’s how do you find money in the budget, — or raise the money — for a Canadian camp, or to help the national teams get better training facilities, etc. And, there’s the matter of money needed to bid for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Down the road, it will draw revenue. But there are upfront costs that need to be addressed. It’s easy to criticize an organization for not spending money — as long as it actually has that dough sitting around. Does anyone believe the CSA is sitting on unspent cash? Let’s look at the U-20 World Cup, held in 2007. According to the PriceWaterhouse Coopers audit of the tournament, the costs of hosting the worked came to almost $24 million, but only $13.35 million in ticket sales were made. The tournament broke even thanks to a $4.2 million grant from Sport Canada and nearly $3 million from the provinces. So, where’s the dough? Unlike fans in other parts of the world, we aren’t conditioned to pay for soccer like they do. English fans can’t believe we can watch EPL games in Canada, live, on free- or low-tier cable TV. Judging by the way we flock to sites for pirated football broadcasts, we love to get soccer for free. That’s just the way of the market. But, if we aren’t willing to pay the ticket prices, if we aren’t willing to urge sponsors to dump more into our soccer program, if we don’t let the TV programmers and editors know — and anonymous message-board posts don’t count, people — we will consistently see our program fight along with a budget that’s a fraction of what other countries spend on soccer. Canada’s major milestone for the 2009-13 strategic plan is to raise the soccer budget to over $25 million a year. Food for thought: Nigeria just approved its 2011 soccer budget; and, after currency conversion, works out to be a little more than $44 million a year. That’s the kind of financial constraints the CSA works under; and until Canadians realize that they are going to have to dig into their own pockets, to find ways to fund the CSA, we will only have modest goals, like hoping one day to have a soccer budget that is a little less than half of what Nigeria spends. That means you, the Canadian soccer fan, needs to stop griping and start spending. Put your money where your mouth is.