Monday, March 07, 2011
May You Live In Interesting Times...
Long thought to be an English translation of a Chinese proverb or curse - "May you live in interesting times" - certainly characterizes the current state of affairs for Canadian soccer.
From the ongoing "Battle of Alberta" which has taken yet another interesting twist to the much hyped but still tenuous change in governance of the Canadian Soccer Association to the recent awarding of not one but two World Cups to Canada and the off-field challenges and on-field successes of the Canadian women's team things are nothing if not interesting for observers of the world's game in Canada.
It makes knowing where to start on a Monday morning difficult to say the least but the dominate story because of the potential repercussions has to be the governance issue because it will determine everything moving forward.
If the governance issue was truly resolved in early February (and I have my doubts) my question is, "What did the CSA give up in order to get the reform package, all be it a revised one, passed at the meeting? Why would the provinces and their presidents give up the stranglehold on power they have enjoyed for the past thirty or more years in the upside down world of Canadian soccer governance where the tail wags the dog?
My guess is power.
I suspect the establishment of new "high performance" leagues in British Columbia and soon Ontario, the establishment of professional academies by the the MLS franchises and the establishment of guidelines for "elite" academies in Ontario are among the signs that the CSA has totally ceded development of players to the provinces and pro clubs.
Even the much talked about Long Term Development Program a CSA initiative has been handed over to the provinces for implementation and delivery and will therefore in all liklihood take on a different face and tone in different parts of the country.
The professional academies have become the de facto national training centers (see recent U17 men's roster) while the provincially governed (at least in Ontario) elite, regionally based academies will replace the regional programs and a redefined provincial program while the new HPLs will provide a proving ground for the clubs within the country.
What the CSA will be left with is the control and direction of the national teams programs and little if anything else - and this under the watchful eye of the three MLS clubs - who I suspect have way more say over what is going on right now than anyone is admitting to or saying out loud.
Meanwhile the provinces got the youth and more importantly for them the monies that go with them. Which leaves the CSA on the outside looking in when it comes to the traditional revenue stream they have come to rely on - one hopes that the new board if and when it happens comes to the table with new sources of cash or as bad as things have been in the past they could indeed get even worse in the future.
Good or bad only time will tell.
Interesting times indeed.