Home Canadian Soccer CSA, CWNT reach compensation deal… But will the siege mentality continue?

CSA, CWNT reach compensation deal… But will the siege mentality continue?

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Carolina Morace
One day after announcing that women’s national-team coach Carolina Morace would be staying on until at least the 2012 Olympics, the Canadian Soccer Association announced that it has reached an agreement with the women’s team over the compensation of players.

The new compensation agreement — the terms of which were not made public — will cover this year and 2012.

““The Canadian Soccer Association is pleased that we have reached a resolution and we look forward to supporting the Women’s National Team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 as well as the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Vancouver and the London 2012 Olympic Games,” said Canadian Soccer Association General Secretary Peter Montopoli in a release.

After follow-up, the CSA stated that “The legality of the agreement doesn’t allow the Association to provide more details on the agreement.”

Compensation for the women’s team was one of the major outstanding issues when Morace announced months ago that she planned to resign after the World Cup. Members of the women’s team threatened to boycott games as a show of support for their coach.

None of those things have come to pass.

On the field, there is no arguing with Morace. She has raised the level of play to heights the women’s team never achieved before, stressing a possession game. Many players have flourished under her, as Canada aborted the previous regime’s philosophy of booting the ball long for striker Christine Sinclair to chase. In fact, the more withdrawn the women became as they rallied around Morace, the better they played. Never underestimate the power of the us-against-the-world mentality.

But, as good as the club has been, it has been anonymous to most of the Canadian public. Morace has sequestered the team away in Europe, where Tweets are about the only thing keeping people informed about the preparations for the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

Where Canadian men’s team coach Stephen Hart conducts regular calls with the media before friendlies and throughout the Gold Cup, Morace and the members of her coaching staff are quiet, doing their business in an Italian fortress. CBC is running regular ads for its Women’s World Cup broadcasts, but the team’s friendlies are going on behind closed doors — in Europe. No Canadian media organization has the budget to send reporters to Italy to cover the preparations — and you’d wonder if they’d be let in to any of the closed-doors friendlies, anyway.

So, as the team gets better, ironically, it may be more anonymous now than it was in the time of Even Pellerud’s reign as coach. No home exposure, no media coverage.

Morace enforeces a strictly European mentality; that locker rooms are havens, that teams should be allowed to train away from the media and other prying eyes. It clashes with the North American mentality, where practices are open to the media, as well as the locker rooms.

Now that the issues are settled till at least the end of next year, we can expect more of the same from the Canadian women’s team.

Morace isn’t alone when it comes to trying to make a European system work in North America. Aron Winter has struggled with his relationship with the Toronto media, as the Toronto FC coach had hoped to keep his dressing room a haven. That didn’t fly — and didn’t sit well with either the league or TFC’s fellow MLS teams.

No matter the sport, in my career I have seen many European players and coaches come over and become very confused (or look like deer in headlights) over the level of access North American teams grant to the media. I am sure Premiership managers would be aghast when they see North American players or coaches giving halftime or intermission interviews to the media.

It’s the difference in our makeups. North American sportswriting is quote-driven. We need to be able to let our readers know that we spoke with the key players. Sportswriting in Europe is more about atmosphere and allowing the journalist to make his or her own calls. If the keeper dives the wrong way on a penalty, the writer has liberty to make that statement stand on its own, (s)he doesn’t need to go downstairs to the “room” to have the keeper say “I guessed the wrong way on that one, didn’t I?”

So, the two sporting cultures, at least when it comes to dealing with the media — are very different. But, in most cases, Europeans who come over here learn to deal with how our media operates. In the case of the Canadian’s national women’s team, the Euro mentality has won out. It’s been great for the results, but it hasn’t helped put women’s soccer any closer to the mainstream than it was this time a year ago.

We’d hope that, in the new agreement, that the team is urged to do more to open itself up to a wider fan base. These women have played so well, they deserve to be more than Christine Sinclair and the Rest of ‘Em.

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