Friday, July 11, 2008

A little Friday morning CSA bashing

Near the end of Sportsnet’s broadcast of last night’s Canadian women’s soccer match against Brazil, analysis Craig Forrest let this little gem slip out. Talking about the fact that the women had played more than 40 games away from home before returning to play in Toronto last night he said:

“If you have a problem with that call the CSA. They are fully to blame for it.”

Forrest has never been shy about voicing his issues with the CSA before, but that was a strong statement even for him.

Full disclosure: As I’ve said before I was one of the organizers of a protest against the CSA held last September. I’m not shy about expressing my concerns against the CSA either. However, I wasn’t a goaltender in the EPL, so it’s a little more newsworthy when Forrest does.

That number by the way: (613) 237-7678

About 13,000, mostly screaming teenage girls, took in the game at BMO last night. With the men’s team reluctant to play on the FieldTurf in Toronto, and the CSA contractually obligated to play six games a year at “the national soccer stadium,” more women’s games in T.O. makes a lot of sense (what makes the most sense is to put grass in at BMO, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen). Certainly, it’s a no brainer to play more games of either gender in Canada. And, Forrest is right. The CSA could be doing a lot more to make sure it happens.

There have been other times in recent memory that soccer has looked ready to make a breakthrough in Canada. Although it’s never come to fruition, this time it seems different. The success of last year’s U-20s, TFC and huge TV numbers for Euro 2008 all point to a growing acceptance of soccer as a spectator sport. Participation numbers have long been high. The only thing missing is widespread interest in the national teams.

That’s going to be a tough hill to climb, but it starts with exposure (and winning—the women in Beijing and the men in World Cup qualifying can do a lot to help their cause by making some noise in those competitions). It stands to reason that if the team’s play more at home, more people will become interested in them.

That number again: (613) 237-7678

Notes: Oh yeah, the game...It was a entertaining, back-and-forth affair with Canada coming away unlucky not to have won. Still, a 1-1 draw with the world’s No. 4 team is nothing to be ashamed of and it continues Canada’s nice roll in preparation for the Olympic tournament (in contrast, Canada looked awful in its warm-ups to the World Cup last year. For instance, it lost 7-0 to Brazil in the Pan American Games. In that same tournament, Canada’s full international team lost to the American u-20 team. It’s been night and day different this year).

Canada opens the Olympics two days before the actual Games start, August 6 against Argentina

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