Home Canadian Soccer Support erodes for Canadian women’s team as their silence continues

Support erodes for Canadian women’s team as their silence continues

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Carolina Morace
When news broke last week that women’s national-team coach Carolina Morace was going to resign after the 2011 World Cup over alleged CSA interference in her program, sympathy for the women’s program was widespread.

After all, we were just a day from a massive CSA reform vote — and recently retired Kara Lang was off to Ottawa to carry the torch for the development of the women’s game in Canada. It was a noble cry for equality in a sports world dominated by men.

But, after the vote, as the women announced their intention to boycott games through the media, there is no shaking that, with every passing day, that support is eroding.

A boycott is a massive undertaking, and has repercussion not just for the women’s team, but the whole program. If the Canadian women were to boycott a World Cup match, FIFA reserves the right — it’s written in the tournament rulebook. ““Depending on the circumstances of the withdrawal, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee may impose additional sanctions, including the suspension of the Participating Member Association concerned from subsequent FIFA competitions.”

“Participating Member Association” are the three key words. That means FIFA doesn’t just suspend the women’s program, it suspends ALL of Canada’s programs. The entire CSA gets a black eye.

Yes, it’s easy to say that worrying about how the women’s boycott will affect the other branches of the program — most of them for men — is sexist. I get that. But the fact is it hurts all facets of the program. No one outside of the hardcore soccer fans in this country will care why Canada didn’t show up for its World Cup opener with Germany. All they will care about is that Canada left the host nation holding the bag in the opener of their tournament. The men, women, you name it — we’ll be blacklisted.

Soccer authorities are harsh — remember that Togo was banned by African authorities for skipping out on the African Cup of Nations… after their team bus was attacked by gunmen. That ban was lifted after FIFA mediated between Togo and the CAF, but it gives you an idea of how reactionary the soccer world is when it comes to teams skipping games.

If the women boycott friendlies, good luck arranging future friendlies with the likes of the Germans, Americans or Brazilians. They won’t trust us to show up.

But the real issue is the lack of real demands coming from the women’s camp. At least, demands that the public can digest and try to understand. When Morace is pressed to give details about her discontent, she scoots back to a nice, safe position: That she can’t talk about specifics in respect of her contract with the CSA.

You mean, the contract you’re planning to cut up at end of the World Cup? So, it’s OK to have the fans flooded with rumours and innuendo, but not the truth? Out of respect for a contract that really, through a boycott, the women are undermining anyway?

It’s hypocrisy, plain and simple. And, until the women come clean about what they want. Until they detail the dollars and cents, the problems they have with the CSA, their support will erode. We know there’s a bad smell in the house, but we can’t find the dirty laundry.

Today, Carmelina Moscato appeared on the CBC, said the team is ready to train in Italy and prepare for the World Cup, but will boycott. When asked for specifics, she followed her coach’s line, and said the details can’t be discussed because of Morace’s contract. Basically, it was a couple of minutes worth of beating around the bush.

Canadian soccer fans have heard rumours , but out of respect to Morace’s contract, no one has come forward with actual demands. It’s OK to send e-mails to targeted “friendly” journalists, it’s OK to tell everyone you’re pissed off and not going to take it anymore, it’s OK to launch a boycott that threatens Canada’s U-23 Olympic qualifying, the men’s Gold Cup campaign and all facets of the national program, but somehow there is a moral high ground in not talking about the contract.

It’s kinda like saying it’s not cheating … as long as you use a condom.

If you are going to boycott, fine. But be honest and up-front about the motives. Morace is already willing to wring herself out of the contract at the end of the World Cup, so why does she fall back on this “must respect the contract” position now?

Morace has always been a crusader for increased funding and exposure for women’s soccer. And, previously, she’s never been shy to speak her mind. In 2003, when she coached the Italian national team, she told FIFA that all pro clubs should be required to have women’s teams. “In my opinion the professional men’s teams need to do more, starting with the inclusion of women’s teams within their clubs. A lot depends on UEFA of course, but I think that clubs should be obliged to have women’s teams in much the same way as they have youth sides. By doing that you enable the women’s game to grow and you increase public interest in the sport.”

She can’t hold her tongue now. Not when the situation is blowing up around the team.

Dear Canadian women’s team: Talk now, before you begin the boycott. If you don’t, then you’ve let down the fans and you’ve let down other players who want to represent Canada. If you want to keep quiet, then suck it up and play. Fans can’t respect a boycott based on generalities.

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2 Comments

  1. Colin Jose

    February 11, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    The CSA entered and then withdrew from the 1962 World Cup, and was fined by FIFA.

    Reply

  2. Coachrich

    February 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Appreciate your coverage and maybe I’m missing something in your article in the above but the facts are –

    – WNT has been trying for at least 10 years to get the CSA BOD to the table. Goes back to great Charmaine Hooper
    – Over those years the CSA has broken promises saying one thing before a big game and saying other after the big game.
    – There has been a written request asking the CSA BOD to come to the table for over 1 year
    – The WNT lawyer has been asking the CSA to give them access to MNT comp details so the WNT can get a frame of reference.
    – Why does the WNT needs a frame of reference to negotiate with the CSA? The WNT is aware the CSA does have a lot of money…we all know why. It common for for NSO to have parity as it’s part of a NSO agreement with Sports Canada.
    – A boycott at a critical time is the best time to negotiate. Case in point is the USMNT and USWNT have both boycotted at numerous times to get their CBAs, Btw the USWNT got parity with their men back in 2000.
    – CBAs are not a new thing for women’s soccer. They more common in the UK and have been going through the The Professional Footballers’ Association.
    – USWNT CBA as we would expect would be the best out there in the world for WNTs. Have a look – http://www.bigapplesoccer.com/article.php?article_id=5125

    Cheers,

    Neil
    Coachrich

    Reply

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