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FIFA’s letter is a troubling development for Canadians

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FIFA not only wants the Alberta Soccer Association to back down in its attempt to allow the courts to rule on its leadership impasse, it also wants other provincial associations to rewrite their bylaws, as well.

According to this report, (follow the link to the letter), FIFA has sent the Canadian Soccer Association a letter that warns of a nasty domino effect. According to FIFA, if the ASA votes this week to drop bylaws that prevent the courts to rule on its messy leadership situation, Canada must suspend the ASA. If the CSA doesn’t act, it will have allowed the ASA to violate the international rules against government interference in soccer affairs. That means a suspension.

It’s not unexpected, but it is troubling.

And, according to FIFA “In this regard, it seems that various members of the CSA have not implemented an accurate clause in their statutes regarding the exclusion of the recourse to ordinary courts. Therefore, and in order to avoid cases of CSA members filing a lawsuit in front of an ordinary court in the future, we kindly suggest revising the statutes of your members and bringing them fully in line with the FIFA requirements.”

That means not only is FIFA concerned over the ASA, it wants other provincial bodies to ensure they write anti-court clauses in their bylaws. In a nice passive-aggressive tone, I might add. How long have the provinces been running like this? When has this ever been an issue with FIFA before the Alberta situation cropped up?

FIFA has forgotten something here. And, the people who think Alberta should step aside have forgotten something, too. You or I did not vote for Sepp Blatter to become president of the organization. His leadership is decided by a handful of people in positions of power. Does this give him and FIFA a moral right to tell us how we can run our democratic process?

This is now an issue that is much, much bigger than soccer. And, now, as Canadians, we need to ask the question. What is more important? Soccer, or the fact that Canadians should be ensured the right to due legal process?

Whether you are on the side of reformers, the status quo or don’t know enough to make a decision on the Alberta leadership debate, we have to agree that we must allow our citizens the right to have these issues worked out in a court of law. We aren’t talking about a dictator telling a soccer association what to do — like Nigeria. We aren’t talking about the cessation of the rights of players. We are simply looking to sort out a messy membership situation in Alberta.

It’s been an awful process. Too much has been said off the record. Too many faceless allegations. And, since many of the people involved are supposed to act as representatives of their associations, they have been wrongly allowed to take themselves off the hook by speaking without putting their names out there. Sorry, if someone voted for you to be in a position of power, even if it means representing a local soccer federation on a provincial board, you must be willing to speak publicly. If you can’t, RESIGN, and let a braver, better soul take over.

But, despite my feelings towards what I feel has been the cowardly behaviour of both reformers and the anti-reform movement, I would not deny them their legal right to a fair trial, considering that no other remedy has been offered.

Sorry, if participating in the Gold Cup means we have to tell our some of our own citizens that they don’t have the right to legal remedies, it is a tournament I do not want any part of. If hosting the Women’s World Cup means that we allow a group of privileged few based in Zurich to help dictate how Canadians should live their lives, well… sorry. No dice.

Being a great country is FAR more important than being a good FIFA member. Maybe it’s time for us to set an example for other countries to follow.

Soccer is a passion, but I am a journalist. That means I protect freedom of speech, the rights of citizens to legal recourse. It is the public trust we take on, whether you cover the Libyan uprising or are the local beat writer for an NASL team. Even though this is a soccer outlet, I would be ashamed if I ever allowed the game to become more important than rights and decency.

FIFA can’t decide Saturday to suspend the Canadian Soccer Association. A suspension of a program is a process that usually takes months to complete. Board meetings have to be held. Reports have to be prepared.

Case in point: Bosnia-Herzegovina was suspended April 1 for a governance structure that didn’t comply with FIFA rules. That suspension came after the country was warned by FIFA last October to change its regulations. In that case, it took six months from warning to suspension.

FIFA took over the Bosnia-Herzegovina football federation on April 12.

That’s another thing. FIFA doesn’t like to simply suspend a federation and walk away. It will more likely try to come in and solve the problem itself if the Canadian Soccer Association’s current board does not comply.

As the unopposed host of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Canada has a little bit of pull with FIFA. While the CSA will tell one and all that it ran unopposed because every other country in the world saw how awesome our bid was, we need to remind FIFA that, ahem, NO ONE ELSE bid for that tournament. You could almost argue that, ahem, we bailed FIFA out of what could have been an embarrassing situation.

FIFA’s 61st annual congress begins May 31 in Zurich and that would be the natural spot for the discussions of a Canadian suspension to begin.

The 11 has contacted CONCACAF and FIFA for their takes on the situation.

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4 Comments

  1. Tyler Durden

    April 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I am curious .. what behavior of the reformers has been cowardly? Also what behavior of the anti-reformers has been cowardly?

  2. Tyler Durden

    April 15, 2011 at 5:02 am

    EIYSA has withdrawn its proposed resolution to delete Article 32.

    In view of Mr Montopoli’s commitment that the CSA is developing a standard form dispute resolution clause for consideration by the members, EIYSA is willing to await the results of the CSA’s efforts.

    http://bit.ly/fWwZMK

  3. Randy

    April 15, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Hey Steven, great passion.

    I suspect you’re beating a dead horse however. FIFA’s General Assembly literally rule all international associations as the ‘Supreme Body’ per the “Standard Cooperation Agreement”. They separate national governments from interfering with all affairs soccer if you will.

    Not one wanting to be in the old boys club, but you get it and I suspect the CSA will act in accordance or will be acted upon.

    Yuk….

  4. James

    April 15, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Thats all so shocking! FIFA is freaking nuts. The CSA is inept but FIFA is corrupt. How dare they try to muscle us like this. Unreal.

    FIFA should mind their own business and stay out of the internal affairs of a country that has long been an advocate for the growth soccer. Especially at the grassroots level and the women’s game. This is disturbing.

    The CSA has messed up many times to their own demise but this ASA business and, especially, the politics of it, is none of FIFA’s business.

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