Home Women's Soccer More Women's Soccer Whitecaps’ decision to drop W-League program comes at a bad time for Canadian Soccer

Whitecaps’ decision to drop W-League program comes at a bad time for Canadian Soccer

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Not only is the Vancouver Whitecaps’ announcement that it won’t field a W-League team in 2013 disappointing for women’s soccer followers, it comes at a very uncomfortable time for the Canadian Soccer Association.

Next Friday, the CSA is welcoming the media to BC Place, and shining the world soccer spotlight on the city. The CSA will unveil the official emblem for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. This will coincide with coach John Herdman putting the national women’s team through a Vancouver evaluation camp.

Vancouver should be the queen of the women’s soccer world.

But, they’ll also need to be red-faced. A big part of FIFA’s mandate is to create legacy projects. And a big mission for FIFA is to establish the women’s pro game in Canada. And now, in hushed tones, the CSA will have to acknowledge that the Whitecaps have at least temporarily shuttered their women’s team.

The Whitecaps won the W-League in 2004 and 2006.

“The women’s landscape is evolving with the introduction of the new women’s professional league that will include many of the Canadian national team players,” said Rachel Lewis, Whitecaps FC chief operating officer, in a release issued by the club on Friday. “Vancouver Whitecaps FC remain dedicated to the development of female players and look forward to exploring additional development opportunities with our partners, including BC Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association, to continue to grow the game in this province and country as we lead up to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and beyond.”

Of course, there will be those who will speculate that maybe this is an opening of the door to move a Whitecaps women’s team into the new American league that begins next season — a league which will have 16 Canadian players, funded by the CSA. But nothing has been said about that yet. What we do know is that the Whitecaps won’t be fielding a women’s team in 2013.

Yes, the Whitecaps’ program has no doubt slipped from the mid 2000s. When people think of the elite women’s program in Canada right now, they say “Ottawa Fury.” The Fury brings in women from across Canada and is the Cadillac program in the country at the moment.

Still, even with the Fury and a new women’s league, it’s hard to accept that the Whitecaps can’t find enough strong, talented women to field a team for 2013. The problem in Canada for both male and female players is not enough spots, not an overabundance of them.

But, when the CSA unveils the World Cup emblem next week in Vancouver, it can’t ask for representation from the, ahem, local women’s team. Because, for the moment, it’s gone. Maybe, for optics’ sake, the CSA should make the announcement in the national capital instead — because the Ottawa Fury is still going strong.

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