Subject: A Canadian Fan's rant
Date: 27 Nov 1997 18:52:13 GMT
From: halchuk@seismo.nrcan.gc.ca (Stephen Halchuk)

Fed up with biting my tongue and griping only to my fellow soccer
enthusiasts, I wrote the following lengthy diatribe to the management
of the Canadian Soccer Association. I'll let you know of any responses
I get.  I encourage other Canadian fans to let their opinions be



[Please forward this to the Chief Operating Officer, the President, and
the Directors of the Canadian Soccer Association. I am hoping they will
respond, if not to me personally then to Canadian soccer fans in
general in the form of a press statement. I am a long time supporter of
the national sides (men, women and youth squads) and the following
represents an average fan's perception of the state of the management
of the CSA. I have tried to be even handed in my criticisms and I hope
it is taken seriously.]

A Letter to the management of the Canadian Soccer Association.

I am sadly writing to withdraw my support of the Canadian Soccer
Association. I've blamed Bob Lenarduzzi for his naivete when it comes
to tactics and his sticking with an ageing squad when it was obvious
there were better younger legs waiting to do the job. I've blamed
national team players who put club before country and left the squad in
the lurch when there was still everything to play for. That covers the
poor on-field performance of Canada in the final round of CONCACAF
qualifiers. Now its time to look for answers for the continuing poor
performance off the field.

The past year can only be described as disasterous in terms of some of
the decisions made (or not made) by the CSA. It started when the draw
for the final round was announced. I was extremely disappointed at the
set-up. Four of the five home matches were either at our smallest venue
(Swanguard) or at poor times of the year (April, October, November as
opposed to May, June, July, August, September). I was given
explanations of field conditions, venue availability, player schedules,
the "luck" of the draw, the "fixing" of the draw to accomodate the
desires of Mexico and the USA, but these do not hide the fact that the
CSA management did not raise its voice loud enough to ensure that the
team had the best field and the best time of year to play its games.
CONCACAF did not have the foresight to align the final round match
dates with those of Europe/South America, so it meant that Canada had
flexibility in choosing its dates (with the exception of the last two
qualifiers in November). If the CSA had spoken up to ensure that the
home dates matched the needs of our team, we may have done better. We
have a voice, just as Mexico and the USA have a voice, but ours seems
to stay silent.

Next came the Wagner fiasco. Claims by the CSA of an ineligible player
on the US roster generated bad blood with the USSF and left the CSA
with egg on its face. It seemed obvious from the research done that
there was some discrepancies either in the records of the DfB or FIFA,
but when the CSA was told that the matter was explained with no
official passports/birth certificates/other documents provided to
positively identify the Wagner in question, their voice was once again
silent. Why did the CSA not insist on documentation? Why was no
official press release explaining the situation released by the CSA?
Why, if the CSA was so meekly going to accept FIFA's non-explanation,
did they not issue an apology to the USSF and Canadian fans for the
embarassment caused by the incident?

Next came the mid summer break. More than 65 days between competitive
matches and the CSA manages to scrape together a single friendly. In
comparison, most of the other CONCACAF teams played 3 or 4 friendlies
during this time. This match against Iran was made possible only due to
the tireless efforts of the Manager of Communications, Mehrdad Masoudi.
What did the Competitions/Event Coordinator (the person who one would
assume would coordinate games) do to arrange for other matches to be
played at this critical time?

Arguments could be made that it was too expensive to fly players home
to participate, but with a larger portion of our first team in Europe,
a mid summer break in effect, and some 50 UEFA nations to choose from,
surely the CSA could have gathered the team in Europe for one or two
matches at a lesser expense?

Finally, the latest string of events. It seemed to be ominously
foreshadowed by the press release concerning Bob Lenarduzzi's
resignation. In reference to the hiring of a replacement coach it was
announced that "the CSA expects to finish this hiring process by the
end of next year(1998)".  No announcement of an interim coach to guide
the team through the Gold Cup and next years many friendlies - for
surely there will be many as the team needs to rebuild.

The latest blow was the announcement of Canada's withdrawal from the
Gold Cup. The CSA's official line is that it was being a good
neighbour to World Cup qualifier Jamaica by allowing them to take
Canada's place in the tournament in order to gain valuable experience.
Unofficial sources said that there were financial constraints, Canada
wouldn't perform well in the tournament, and the release of overseas
players would be difficult to achieve. None of these reasons justify
the CSA's withdrawal from the Gold Cup.

The CSA's mandate is to promote Canadian soccer, specifically the
national teams. While allowing Jamaica to take our place is a laudable
gesture, it should not be a gesture that the CSA should make. CONCACAF
could easily have expanded the tournament to allow the Reggae Boyz to
compete. What does allowing Jamaica in to the tournament at Canada's
expense do to improve the sorry state of Canada's soccer program?

The CSA should not be so hard pressed for cash that it is unable to
participate in a tournament hosted by our next door neighbour. Earlier
this year the CSA proudly announced sponsor after sponsor signing
multi-year contracts which would inject several million dollars into
the national program. The Royal Bank of Canada, MasterCard
International, JVC Canada, Gillette Canada, General Motors, Umbro
Canada, Air Canada, Burger King, Snickers, World Soccer, TSN, and Canoe
have all pledged their support. None of them (to my knowledge) have
withdrawn their support as the result of Canada's failure to qualify
for France98. Add this money to the existing government support and
Canada should have no problem in sending a team to southern California
in February. Teams in much more dire financial situations (Cuba,
Guatemala) seem to be able to manage it.

Releasing players from their European club commitments has always been
a problem. But it is a problem that faces almost every nation in
CONCACAF. Some players may no longer be committed to the team. Some
players may have legitimate club concerns or injuries. Some players will
come no matter what the cost to their club prospects. Regardless, there
are many North American based players who could have filled the gaps
and would be eager to show that they are capable of representing the
country. Many of Canada's future stars, who were given little or no
opportunity to play for the national side in the qualifiers, are
sitting on the bench for their clubs, playing in indoor leagues or not
playing at all over the winter break. The Gold Cup would have been
Canada's golden chance to begin its rebuilding process with these young
men. They would have gained invaluable experience in three competitive
games and with two teams advancing from their group, had a legitimate
chance for a second round spot. With the apparent attitude of "we won't
do well at the tournament so we won't bother participating" we are
additionally throwing away the chance at an invitation to the next Copa
America and possible participation in the FIFA/Confederations Cup. If
you don't make the attempt, you'll never get there.

The CSA now leaves the Canadian team and its fans with promises of a
few friendlies against World Cup finalists in May. Why would a
European, African, Asian or South American finalist want to travel
overseas and go out of its way to play a team that finished bottom of
its group, withdrew from the only competitive tournament available to
it for the next two years and will not have played a competitive match
almost 6 months?  Yes, we will probably play some friendlies in May
(solely because of our proximity to the USA), but these should have
been played in addition to the invaluable competitive Gold Cup matches,
not instead of. 

The Gold Cup is a continental championship. Only teams which are
destitute or under international sanction generally don't participate.
What is Canada's reason? These games represented our only competitive
matches for the forseeable future. Failure to participate not only robs
our players of experience and the chance to excel, it will also surely
mean that our international ranking will plummet. With FIFA looking
more and more to its ranking system to seed teams in tournaments, the
consequence of non-participation will be to make our qualification
process for future tournaments all the more difficult. What
considerations were made regarding the long term affects of this

The Canadian national team is barely keeping its head afloat in the
backwaters of the world soccer community. With this decision the CSA
seems content to allow it to sink rather than throw it a life

The questions remain.
Why was nothing done to improve Canada's home dates in the final round
of qualifiers? Why did the CSA not press FIFA and the DfB to provide a
comprehensive explanation of the Wagner affair? Conversely, if the CSA
was satisfied, why was no official CSA statement made to that effect
and an apology sent to the USSF for the mix-up? Why were there so few
friendlies arranged this summer when building a cohesive national squad
was imperative after a poor first half performance? and most
importantly, why did the CSA withdraw from the Gold Cup when it
provided a prime opportunity to rebuild the team with new players and
competitive matches?

I look to the Chief Operating Officer Kevan Pipe, the President Terry
Quinn and the Directors Angus Barrett, Frank Capasso, John Diamond,
Esther Dupperon, Edward Grenda, Dino Madonis, Gil Oickle, Tom Pollock,
Iain Robertson, Joey Saputo, Jim Spencer, and Brent Thorburn to take full
responsibility for the decisions of the past year and to provide full
answers to the players and the fans. Please, give me reason to
reinstate my support of the CSA.

I remain a loyal fan of Canada's national soccer teams, 
if not their management

Stephen Halchuk
Nepean, Ontario

Subject: Re: A Canadian Fan's rant
Date: 28 Nov 1997 13:07:31 GMT
From: "N. Bruce Kelloway" (nbk@cast.navnet.net)

Well said Stephen, although not as forcefully said as I would have liked.

Allow me this opportunity to correct your second last paragraph, just a
bit. In listing the directors of the CSA you list Gil Oickle, the Soccer
Nova Scotia President.

Regretably, I advise all that Mr. Oickle died earlier this year. His
contributions to soccer were tremendous, and he will be missed on the SNS

Frank Bailey is the guilty party that you are looking for.

Allow me to say that if his participation in the management of the CSA is a
good as his managment of Soccer Nova Scotia, the sport is in a hell of a
lot of trouble.

The listing of the Directors of the CSA is typical of Frank and his
management style. Gil's name remains but Franks is invisible.

Maybe what is needed is what the MLS experienced, the players rebelled,
started their own organization and notified the higherarchy that these were
the terms from now on, and this is the way it is going to be. The
administrators had no choice but to listen.

The CSA and it's subsets, the OSA, SNS, etc. are organizations for
administrators, with the very occasional player development program.
Players and Referees are wasting their money on this form of management.

Subject: A Canadian's rant continues: Kevan Pipe responds!
Date: 17 Mar 1998 17:58:05 GMT
From: halchuk@seismo.nrcan.gc.ca (Stephen Halchuk)

[a little bit of background to this. Last November, being extremely
frustrated with the "annus Horriblus" (forgive my Latin) that was 1997
for the Canadian Soccer Association, I sent a long email to the CSA
outlining my concerns over the decisions they made during the WC
qualifying campaign. I also posted it here at the time so I won't bore
you with it again. If you are really interested in wading through it,
the letter has somehow made its way to the RSSSF archives, and can be
found at:


Not surprisingly, I did not receive a reply. I resent the letter (in
January) the traditional way directly to the CSA's Chief Officer, Mr
Kevan Pipe. I added a note on how all the promised friendlies which
were to be arranged in lieu of the Gold Cup appeared to have dried up.
Last week, just as I was contemplating a further note, a letter arrived
from Mr Pipe. Although it was 3 pages long, it didn't really answer my

In brief, his answers to my questions were:

Gold Cup - they took the long term view thinking young, inexperienced
players without an established coach would gain nothing from the Gold
Cup tournament. They since asked 20 countries to play friendlies, all
refused/were too expensive.

The final round of WC qualifiers draw was not fixed in USA's/Mexico's

Lenarduzzi wanted no preparation games in the summer break (Canada did
have one, the fewest by far of all the 6 CONCACAF finalists), he wanted
the players to rest.

The Wagner Affair - CSA stands by its position, no further comment.

and there was a lot of moaning about how there is no support for the game.

I emailed him the following reply and he promptly sent a brief comment]

Mr Pipe

Thank you for the letter dated March 2 which you sent in response to 
my enquiries. Some issues were cleared up while some remain
in question. While I have given up on getting a full reply to my
questions, I will restate them so my position is clear.  You are
welcome to respond.

The Wagner affair:

You state that:

"... the CSA stands by its position [can I infer that the CSA's
position presumably is that Wagner was an ineligible player?]. It is
interesting that shortly thereafter, US Soccer dropped the player who
has never been heard from again ... The Association has no intention to
apologize for this issue and will offer no further comment."

That the USSF has dropped Wagner probably has more to do with his
inability to fit into the team, rather than his eligibility, don't you
think? If you are implying that it does have something to do with his
ineligibility and the USSF dropped him like a "hot potato" in order to
kill any further enquiries, please, please get the documentation to
prove it and clear up the uncertainty.

(as an aside, Wagner has been heard of since, he played in the friendly
against Paraguay on the weekend.)

The issue sadly remains unresolved. 

Two options arise: 

1. Wagner was eligible and the CSA appears to have been a little hasty
and/or overzealous in its accusation that he was ineligible. This is
how the matter now stands, since FIFA has said he is eligible. The CSA
should therefore have done the honourable thing and apologized to the
USSF and Wagner for the grief they were put through.

2. Wagner was ineligible (the evidence brought to light so far would
suggest there is some question). The CSA, having made the accusation
and brought the discrepancies out in the open, should have pursued the
matter to its conclusion. Full documentation (passports/birth
certificates/etc) of all the Wagners in question should have been
obtained so the matter could be laid to rest. The CSA would then be
vindicated, or possibly would have been shown that Wagner was indeed

The CSA appears to be content to let the matter hang without proper
resolution. Knowledgeable Canadian fans won't forget, however and
remain frustrated by the CSA's lack of closure one way or the other. 
I can't get answers from the USSF, the DfB or FIFA, so it was the CSA 
I turned to in the hopes that the matter would be cleared up. 

The Gold Cup:

as I stated in my original email of last December:

"Why would a European, African, Asian or South American finalist want
to travel overseas and go out of its way to play a team that finished
bottom of its group, withdrew from the only competitive tournament
available to it for the next two years and will not have played a
competitive match almost 6 months? "

If I was able to see that Canada was not going to get any friendlies in
Canada before the World Cup, it must have been painfully obvious to the
CSA. In this light, the CSA's decision to withdraw from the Gold Cup
and make promises of "a few" pre-World Cup friendlies becomes even more
puzzling. Bruce Twamley could have acted as interim coach for a Gold
Cup team and the squad could have been made up of Canadian based
players or overseas players who sit on the bench for their clubs. This
would have been an opportunity to assess the players on the fringe of
making the national squad. The players may have been badly outplayed.
The scorelines may have been embarrassing. But I would have taken three
games in a competitive tournament over no games at all (as it appears
the case will be). The players would have gained experience, the
coaches could begin to judge their talents. Instead, no experience and
no insights and the process of rebuilding the Canadian national side
gets pushed back several months.
You state that the CSA approached "20 countries" (the 10 you listed
were all WC98 participants, presumably the other 10 were as well?) and
listed the high costs of hosting Scotland. Why didn't the CSA reduce
the costs by assembling a team in Europe for a few friendlies? Travel
costs would be lower as most of the players are already there. The
players would have less disruptions to their club schedules. Numerous
friendlies are already being played. Over 30 non-WC98 European teams are
beginning to prepare for the Euro-2000 qualifiers and are looking for
opponents. It would appear to be a opportunity tailor made for the
CSA.  Canada in the 80s toured South America, Asia and Africa. If we
don't play friendlies at home are we destined to play none at all?

Finally a point of clarification on the draw for the final round of
CONCACAF qualifiers.

You state:

"The draw was not fixed. Anyone who says so believes that JFK was
killed by the Mafia"

My concerns over the "fixing" of the draw came from comments made by
the CSA's Mehrdad Masoudi when I asked about the poor dates and the
questionable venues. (I attach the pertinent part of an email
conversation from a year ago). I did not think the draw was "fixed".
Mehrdad probably did not either. It appeared that frustration over the
times and venues of the games got the better of us.

---- Begin included message---
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 14:55:04 -0500
To: halchuk@seismo.nrcan.gc.ca (Stephen Halchuk)
From: soccer.canada@rtm.cdnsport.ca (Mehrdad Masoudi)


>Who in the CSA should I direct these questions to for a definitive
>answer? Are the other venues charging too much to host the matches?
>Has the CSA chosen to ignore all of the country east of Alberta? Do
>Bobby and the boys not want to leave "sunny" Vancouver?

I have printed a copy of your message for Kevan Pipe.  He has the same
explanation.  Between you and I, our friends at CONCACAF, Mexico and USA
may have had a deal behind the scenes.
---- End included message---

I can only hope that the CSA is taking steps to ensure that CONCACAF
adopts the worldwide fixture dates that Europe, South America and
Africa are using to ensure that such a poor list of fixtures does
not occur in our 2002 qualifiers.

In conclusion, I remain at odds with some of the CSA's decisions made
in 1997.  I am pleased, however, to see progress being made with the
appointment of coaches to the U-17 and U-20 sides. I hope that steps
will soon be made to get the national men's and women's sides playing
in the near future. Thank you again for responding to my letter.

Stephen Halchuk


Many thanks for your e-mail. I would again encourage you to stop in for
a coffee one day so that we can mutually discuss some items you have
listed above. To that extent I look forward to hearing from you.
Kevan Pipe, COO CSA


Mr Pipe's responses were more than I expected, but less than I had
hoped for. I will have to send Mr. Pipe my regrets over not taking
time off work to sip cappucino with him. My fellow Canadian soccer
fanatic Chris Macknie brilliantly suggested that I send him a gold
coffee cup instead. I'd throw a Wagnerian opera for him to listen to 
as he drinks his coffee and contemplates the state of the game in Canada. 
A good tragedy would be appropriate. Tristan and Isolde, perhaps?

S. Halchuk, halchuk@seismo.nrcan.gc.ca
A (football) fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change
the subject. --  apologies to Winston Churchill