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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
National team suspends veterans

by Jim Morris, Canadian Press
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On the eve of World Cup qualifying, the Canadian women's soccer team is in turmoil, with captain Charmaine Hooper and two other veteran players threatening a lawsuit over being axed from the squad.

The Canadian Soccer Association said Hooper, defender Sharolta Nonen and forward Christine Latham were suspended for failing to play in two exhibition games against China in August.

The players maintain they are being punished for not committing soon enough to a residency program funded by Greg Kerfoot, the millionaire owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps. The residency program would keep national team players in Vancouver while training for the World Cup next summer and possibly the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The three players believe the program puts pressure on women to play for the Whitecaps' women's team, a charge the CSA denies.

"It was strongly suggested you move to Vancouver," Hooper said in a telephone interview from her Chicago home. "We have never done that," national team coach Even Pellerud countered. [This turns out to be a lie - see next post - Jeff]

Pellerud said the requirement for the program is only that players be in Vancouver while camps are taking place.

All three players are based in the United States and play for other W-League teams. Hooper played for the New Jersey Wildcats last season, while Latham and Nonen are members of the Atlanta Silverbacks.

"If you are in Vancouver, you are going to be playing for the Whitecaps," Hooper said.

Kevan Pipe, the chief operating officer of the CSA, said receiving money from the fund was never contingent on playing with the Whitecaps.

"There are no strings attached," Pipe said from Ottawa. "There is no pressure for any of these players to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps." [This turns out to be a lie - see next post - Jeff]

But commuting to Vancouver would make playing for another team more difficult and costly.

The Kerfoot program, which the CSA has not made public, pays $20,000 a year each to 20 national team players.The money is above what the players receive from Sport Canada as carded athletes.

Pellerud said the players were suspended for failing to appear for two national team games against China in St. John's in August. "They let the team down," Pellerud said.

Pipe said the women were not removed from the fund until their suspension for failing to play against China.

The women argue they were removed from the fund first, which resulted in their refusing to play the China games, which led to the suspension.

Hooper and Latham said they didn't play in the China games because they received e-mail from the national team manager Les Meszaros saying they would no longer get money from the program financed by Kerfoot. The e-mail came after the players had asked for more details concerning a two-month World Cup training camp to be held in Vancouver. They wanted to know where they would be staying and who would cover expenses.

An Aug. 9 e-mail sent to the rest of the national team says Hooper and Latham had been cut from the funding program. [This was 10 days before they failed to show up for the China friendlies - Jeff]

"Unfortunately two players, Hooper and Latham, have failed to commit to this program within time limits," the e-mail said. "At this point, their lack of full commitment to the residency has resulted in their release from the full-time program."

Nonen had committed to attend the training camp. But when she learned Hooper and Latham had been removed from the funding program, she decided to support them by not playing in the games against China.

All three players were on the original roster announced for the China games on Aug. 19 and 22. Hooper, Latham and Nonen have a combined 243 caps and 87 goals for Canada. Hooper has scored 71 goals in 131 appearances.

Other national team members are reluctant to talk on the record about the situation, but there appears to be anger on the squad about the three opting not to play in the China series.

The CSA never publicly announced Kerfoot's donation. "He is a very private man," Pipe said. "We wanted to announce it."

Pellerud said no decision has been made on whether the three will be allowed to return to the team. "The team decision at the moment is that although the door is not completely closed, it's closed for now," Pellerud said.

Canada will open its World Cup qualifying with a game in Carson, Calif., on Nov. 22.

Hooper, who has played more international games and scored more goals than any other Canadian woman, said she will not play for Canada as long as Pellerud remains coach.

"Not for him," she said. "If he is still there for the next three years, then probably not."

In a letter sent to Pellerud, the lawyer representing the players called the suspension and resulting loss of funding an "unlawful, unilateral release."

"In the event we are not able to resolve my clients' concerns in a timely manner, their options are to proceed with all avenues that are lawfully available to them including ... initiating a lawsuit with full rights of examination and disclosure," wrote Calgary lawyer Alan J. Ross.

The letter questions Kerfoot's funding program and refers to the fact that Pellerud rents a house from Kerfoot.

''There certainly is no law against a private fund established to assist the national team,'' Ross wrote. ''However, when the source of those funds comes from the owner of another soccer team and that owner has the capacity to influence your behaviour in respect of the national team, whether by virtue of conditions attached to the donation of the money and/or for example as a result of your residing in a home owned by the owner, I suggest that a conflict of interest arises.''

Pellerud said he pays rent to Kerfoot for the Vancouver home he lives in.

Pipe said he sees no conflict of interest with a W-League franchise owner helping finance the national team.

Hooper has long been the face of women's soccer in Canada but she has also been a vocal critic of the Canadian Soccer Association at times.

In 1999, the association branded her a ''disruptive entity'' in stripping her and other players of their carding funding. Hooper had lambasted the association for its World Cup preparation and said she would no longer play for coach Neil Turnbull.

Hooper eventually got her carding back and Turnbull moved on.

Pellerud, who won the World Cup with Norway, has raised the Canadian team to new heights in the world scene and is well-respected as a coach.

But Hooper and Pellerud have clashed.

In July, the New Jersey Wildcats lost a playoff game to Ottawa. Hooper and goaltender Karina LeBlanc missed the game because they were playing for the national team in a friendly against the U.S. Pellerud allowed four members of the Fury, who also are national team players, to miss the friendly.

Pellerud said he allowed the Fury to keep the players because the team had made the request six months before the playoffs. He said he would have done the same for New Jersey if it had asked then. But when the team made its request just six days before the playoffs, he refused.

The Wildcats were further incensed when Pellerud opted not to play LeBlanc.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Canadian soccer officials have resorted to lying to cover up the shameful way they have treated some of Canada's top women players.

This is from a report in today's Globe and Mail by Peter Mallett:
Bob Lenarduzzi, director of soccer operations for the Whitecaps, said in a report published yesterday that Kerfoot's interest in the national team does not interfere with his ownership of the W-League team.

"They are totally independent," Lenarduzzi said.

But e-mails obtained yesterday by The Globe and Mail paint a far different picture.

"You must relocate to Vancouver in April and play 'W' here," Pellerud wrote to Latham in an e-mail on Feb. 1. It's believed that "W" refers to the W-League, the professional women's league of which the Whitecaps are a member.

Latham had just signed a contract with a pro team in Atlanta. Pellerud wrote in an e-mail that she must break it.

"It is no longer an option for you to go and play in Atlanta, even if that originally was your first choice. . . . As you know, Bob L in Whitecaps is trying to get hold of you, call him back immediately and feel free to negotiate a 'good deal' with him," Pellerud wrote. "Be smart."

When Latham told Pellerud she had already signed the contract to play for the Atlanta Silverbacks, Pellerud told her to pull out -- and made it clear her funding was at risk if she did not.

"Does not matter, this is not a discussion," Pellerud wrote. "Call them and pull back from commitment -- happens all the time in the soccer world.

"I can tell you right now that your participation in the Full Time player program in jeopardy (20.000cnd/year) [sic]."

When contacted yesterday, Pellerud said he was merely giving the 25-year-old forward advice on how to improve her development and have a more substantial role with the national team.

"I said to her, you can get to the necessary level by making the changes and coming to residency. For me, it didn't make sense that she wasn't attending," Pellerud said in a telephone interview.

"One of the allegations is that I pressured [national team players] to play for the Whitecaps. But this year the Whitecaps didn't sign any new players [from the national program]. There were no new signings. The proof was in the pudding."

The third player suspended by the CSA is 28-year-old defender Sharolta Nonen. All three women have retained legal representatives.

Kerfoot is private man who rarely speaks to the media. Lenarduzzi usually acts as the team's spokesman, but a Whitecaps spokesman said Lenarduzzi "has gone on two weeks vacation."

The CSA's website says the organization "has been instructed not to make any further comments" by its legal counsel.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
More on this story from today's Toronto Star newspaper:

All three women say they weren't against moving to Vancouver, but needed reassurance before they could do it. They said the team took a long time to finalize important details, like where the players would live.

"Everything was up in the air, yet they wanted us to commit," Hooper said.

Hooper, who lives in suburban Chicago, didn't want to uproot her family, and says she agreed to consider the move only after the CSA promised to find her husband a coaching job.

In early August Hooper boarded a plane with her husband and young daughter, to fly to Vancouver in advance of a possible move there. Before takeoff, national team manager Les Meszaros called and told her not to fly to Vancouver, Hooper said. She and her family got off the plane, then were detained by security at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and forced to explain their actions.

By the time she arrived home, Meszaros had already emailed the team, telling them Hooper and Latham had been dropped from the Full Time Funding Program because they wouldn't move to Vancouver.

"I was heading out there to look at a proposal," Hooper said. "(Cutting off funding) was like tit for tat. It was really petty."

Both Hooper, who plays club soccer in New Jersey, and Latham, who plays in Atlanta, said they also hesitated to move to Vancouver because they felt Pellerud would pressure them to play for the team Kerfoot owns, the Vancouver Whitecaps of the semipro W-League.

The CSA issued a statement on Tuesday saying it wouldn't comment on Hooper and Latham's allegations, but in reports published earlier this week, CSA chief operating officer Kevan Pipe said Kerfoot's money came with "no strings attached."

Latham disagrees. Pellerud emailed her several times last winter, telling her to leave her current team, the Atlanta Silverbacks, and join Kerfoot's squad.

"You must relocate to Vancouver and play W (League) here," Pellerud wrote in a message dated on Feb. 1, 2006.

After Latham explained she has already signed with Atlanta, Pellerud told her that playing there could cost her the stipend. Pellerud wouldn't comment on Hooper and Latham's allegations yesterday.

"I would love to, but it's not in my best interests," he said.

The dispute has raised questions about the relationship between Pellerud and Kerfoot.

A title search revealed that the house where Pellerud lives is worth more than $6.5 million, but Pellerud wouldn't say how much rent he pays.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Charmaine Hooper issued a statement today on her website:

As we all knew from the end of July, I was very upset and voiced my opinion regarding the actions of the national team coach when he allowed 4 national team players who play for the Ottawa Fury to stay and play in the division championship game against New Jersey Wildcats. The National Team had a game scheduled against the US National Team the same weekend in Carey, North Carolina. Our team had been on a 6 game winning streak and as always we were very much looking forward to the game against the US. I am always proud to play for Canada and games with our National Team have always been the players #1 priority.

I was, therefore, really disapointed when Karina Leblanc and I arrived in Cary and the Ottawa players were allowed to stay and play for Ottawa as they had been very instrumental in our recent success as a team. We knew we would not be able to put forth our best effort the next day without them. Our coach's explanation at a team meeting was, "I owed the Ottawa coach a favor and I have to live up to my part of the deal." The game was televised live thoughout the US and we lost 2-0. Karina Leblanc, main goalkeeper for New Jersey, sat on the Canada bench for that loss. The Fury won their game against New Jersey (after not having beaten them all season), and went on to be defeated by the Whitecaps at the league championship in Vancouver.

Earlier in the year, Atlanta Silverbacks Canadian National Team players had already signed contracts with the Atlanta Silverbacks and Even Pellerud pressured them to terminate their contracts and relocate to Vancouver or be in jeoprody of losing their funding. The Atlanta team was furious as there were 2 National Team players who had committed to play for them that withdrew for fear of repercussions.

We were all in favor of a residency camp in Vancouver starting in September. To be able to attend an extended training camp in preparation for World Cup Qualifying was a tremendous opportunity thanks to the generous donation of Mr. Kerfoot. It was much appreciated by all the players. However, as of the beginning of August, all details were still up in the air. Basic details like where in Vancouver would the camp be held, living arrangements. etc.

At this same time, the players who didn't reside in Vancouver needed to be relocated there and be able to start training camp on September 11. The coach told me my husband would be offered a job with the Whitecaps. He therefore quit his job in Chicago in preparation for the move to Vancouver with our young daughter. This was going to be a big move for my family. We were invited to fly to Vancouver to look at a proposal for moving there.

On the day of travel, while sitting on the plane with our baby, I received a cell phone call telling me not to come. We had to get off the aircraft and then be detained by security. The reason for this drastic change, as I was later told by the coach, was due to my comments and speaking out about the Ottawa Fury vs New Jersey Wildcats game.

In communication with the team manager in early August, Christine [Latham] and myself both confirmed our agreement to attend the camp, but given the time frame of about 1 month until the start of training on Sept. 11, we needed more information, information that was still not available. We both then received emails from the team manager, Les Meszaros, stating that we were terminated from the Full Time Player program because we did not commit within a given time. This was confirmed to the whole team in an email August 9 in addition to details about the Newfoundland games versus China. We did not attend the games versus China and France due to the treatment of me and my family and also Christine and myself being terminated from the Full Time Player Program 10 days before start of the lst game.

Since mid-August, we have made many attempts to resolve this situation but have been unsuccessful. I thought that the CSA would be interested in conducting their own investigation into some of these matters but that doesn't appear to be the case as they have hired legal counsel to advise them and are not commenting further.

This is all very disappointing, especially after the major strides the Canadian Women's Soccer Team has made over the last 7 years. It is very unfortunate and the question right now is: Can this team emerge from this mess and move on?

FIFA's Code of Ethics is based on FIFA Fair Play. I trust that once all the information is gathered, Fair Play will prevail.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
From an article by Peter Mallett in today's Globe and Mail:

Team captain Charmaine Hooper and veteran forward Christine Latham say that Even Pellerud overstepped his duties as the coach when he pressed members of the national team to break professional club contracts in order to join the W-League's Vancouver Whitecaps and a controversial residency program funded by Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot. Pellerud rents a $6.5-million home from Kerfoot.

Hooper also alleges that Pellerud helped the Ottawa Fury in a W-League conference final last summer by allowing four Fury players to forgo a national team game against the United States that same weekend. Also, Pellerud would not release Hooper from the national team to play for the New Jersey Wildcats, the Fury's opponent.

Without Hooper in the New Jersey lineup, the Fury surprised the defending champion Wildcats with a 3-2 victory and earned a berth in the W-League final in Burnaby, B.C. The Whitecaps downed the Fury 3-0 in the championship game on Aug. 6.

"I can't really express how frustrated I was because of this," Hooper said.

In an e-mail to Hooper on July 25, Ottawa defender Diana Matheson expressed concern about the circumstances under which the Ottawa owners released their players for the game. Matheson has since declined to comment.

Hooper says the two issues warrant an investigation by the Canadian Soccer Association.

"I honestly can't say whether he [Pellerud] needs to be suspended or fired, but the whole situation needs to be cleared up," Hooper said. "I think there needs to be an inquiry as to what has been going on."

Pellerud declined to comment on the residency issue, but denied Hooper's charges of roster tampering. "This is 100-per-cent false information," Pellerud said. "We will set the record straight during the legal process."

The Whitecaps' director of soccer operations, Greg Anderson, said yesterday that the money for the residency program was donated by Kerfoot and added that the program is completely separate from club operations.

Kevan Pipe, the CSA's chief operating officer, said Pellerud will not be replaced or suspended. "There has been no discussion about his conract with the CSA. His record of achievement, which includes Canada's No. 10 ranking in the world, speaks for itself," Pipe said.

Canada will depart for the Peace Cup on Monday without Hooper, Latham and defender Sharolta Nonen for matches against Brazil, Italy and host South Korea.

Canada will then open its World Cup qualifying campaign in the Gold Cup against Jamaica in Carson, Calif., on Nov. 22.

The continuing controversy stems from a series of e-mails published in The Globe and Mail this week. Last February, Pellerud wrote to Latham and tried to persuade her to break a contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the W-League and move to Vancouver and join the Whitecaps last February.

"The smart thing would be to make an announcement that he [Pellerud] is temporarily being replaced while this matter is investigated, to eliminate more controversy heading into our World Cup qualifying next month," Latham said.

Latham, Hooper and Nonen did not show up for two exhibition games against China last August and Pellerud suspended the trio indefinitely and stripped them of their Sport Canada funding.

The three players have retained a lawyer and launched legal action against the CSA.

Another member of the Canadian national team, who wished to remain anonymous, acknowledged deep divisions exist on the team and said several players are standing behind Pellerud, including Christine Sinclair and midfielder Andrea Neil, both of whom play for the Whitecaps.

"They will not be welcomed back on the team," the unidentified player said

Hooper countered that the players supporting Pellerud are more concerned about money than standing up to Pellerud and the CSA.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Soccer ace left high and dry

Nov. 1, 2006
Morgan Campbell, Toronto Star.

In Seoul, South Korea, Canada's current soccer sniper Christine Sinclair is leading the national team to victories in an international tournament.

Outside Chicago, a frustrated Charmaine Hooper — Canada's most accomplished soccer player — sits at home, with no place on the national team, no government funding and little support from her teammates.

All because, she says, she challenged the demands of a head coach.

Right now, Canada's all-time leader in games played (131) and goals scored (71) fears her stellar 20-year career will only continue through a court order.

"All the other avenues were exhausted," said Hooper, who has hired a lawyer. "We've sunk too many years into this to be just pushed away. If we weren't good enough to make the team and were released, we'd be able to handle it much better, but it doesn't seem like that's the case."

The Canadian Soccer Association says it suspended Hooper and two others for skipping games. The women accuse head coach Even Pellerud of playing favourites and using money to manipulate players.

Last week the team issued a statement supporting the suspensions of Hooper, Christine Latham and Sharolta Nonen.

"We are extremely happy under the leadership of Even Pellerud," the statement read. "We cannot stress enough that this decision was made as a team and for the betterment of the team."

Hooper and Latham say the mood on the team changed when its headquarters moved from Ottawa to Vancouver.

Latham says Pellerud pressured players to move to Vancouver and join the Whitecaps, a semi-pro team owned by software mogul Greg Kerfoot.

Most players agreed to move — the current national team includes 10 Whitecaps. But Hooper, reluctant to uproot her family, resisted. Latham, under contract to a team in Atlanta, hesitated as well.

Kerfoot, who owns the $6.5 million mansion where Pellerud lives, also funded a $20,000 annual stipend to supplement the $1,500 many players receive from the federal government monthly.

Sport Canada makes final decisions about athletes' federal funding, but eligibility for Kerfoot's money was up to Pellerud.

To cash in, players had to be full-time members of the national team. Hooper and Latham say doing that meant following Pellerud to Vancouver.

The CSA maintains moving wasn't a requirement to receive the money. But in a February email, Pellerud outlines the reasons he believes Latham should move, and cites money. First, "The full-time player program is approved by the CSA, which ... gives you the chance to earn 38,000 grand/year — carding included," he wrote. Later in the same message, Pellerud suggests Latham could also lose her federal grant.

"The crucial thing is the fact that you report to me daily — based on the fact that I/CSA are funding your entire existence ... you cannot jeopardize your carding."

Latham says Pellerud's tone shocked and insulted her.

"That message just makes it seem like without (Pellerud) I'd be nothing," she said.

Hooper's conflict intensified in July, before a game against the U.S. She says Pellerud scheduled the match on the same day as the semifinals in the W-League, the semi-pro circuit where most national team members play. Pellerud allowed four members of the Ottawa club to choose the playoffs over the exhibition.

"Your club takes precedence over the national team? That doesn't make sense," said Hooper, whose New Jersey squad played that day. "We're playing against the U.S. We need all the players we can use."

CSA chief operating officer Kevan Pipe* said coaches can allow players to skip exhibitions for important club games. Dwayne De Rosario missed a recent friendly against Jamaica so he could play with his Major League Soccer club, Pipe said.

But when Hooper and a teammate asked for a release, Pellerud denied them.

"In my 20 years I've never seen anything like this," Hooper said.

Hooper says the CSA promised to find her husband a coaching job in Vancouver. Two weeks after the U.S. game she had boarded a plane to fly west and finalize the deal when the team's manager phoned and told her to stay in Chicago. Days later, the CSA emailed players saying Hooper and Latham had been cut off from Kerfoot's money.

Without the stipend, they decided to skip a pair of August exhibitions against China that led to the CSA suspending them.

Nonen left the team in solidarity with Hooper and Latham.

All three are still in the player pool, but Hooper and Latham's government funding is on hold.

Pellerud won't discuss the situation, but the women might still return to the team. Pipe says the suspensions will last until the end of World Cup qualifying on Nov. 26.

After that, the CSA can consider reinstating them. Earlier this week, CSA president Colin Linford told a Montreal radio station that the CSA has mediated similar disputes before and would consider letting someone else mediate this case.

"If that's the case, that's good and that's what we're hoping for," Hooper said. "It seems like it's more positive."

* Kevan Pipe was abruptly fired today (Nov. 2) by the Executive of the CSA. They didn't give a real reason. Does this scandal have anything to do with it?

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Discussion Starter #7
From Charmaine Hooper's website:
This is to bring everyone up to date with the ongoing situation involving the dismissal by Even Pellerud of Christine Latham, Sharolta Nonen and me from the national team. We have received a response from the CSA stating that it would have no objection to proceeding with a hearing through the Sports Dispute Resolution Center of Canada.
I doubt that this will resolve the matter, frankly. I think Pellerud has decided to get rid of Hooper permanently, and this was his "excuse".

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Canadian outcasts attempt a return to the fold
by Peter Mallett
February 24, 2007
Globe and Mail

The three women who were suspended by Canada's World Cup soccer program are getting a cold reception from some players and coaching staff as they attempt to rejoin the team.

Veteran Canadian international Charmaine Hooper, along with teammates Sharolta Nonen and Christine Latham, were informed Dec. 20 that their suspensions had been lifted by coach Even Pellerud, but they have not been invited to a training camp under way in Vancouver.

"We want to be back [on the team] as soon as possible, we have been sidelined unjustly for seven months," Hooper said from her home in suburban Chicago Tuesday. "We have been denied our right to earn a living for seven months with no justifiable reason given whatsoever."

Hooper and Latham were also stripped of their Sport Canada funding because of their suspensions but have since been reinstated. Nonen is not eligible to receive funding.

Hooper, Canada's career leader in appearances (131) and goals (71), said she has received several messages of support from teammates and fans but she acknowledged others haven't warmed up to the idea of their return.

"I think the team has moved on and we performed very well without them," striker Christine Sinclair said in a statement from training camp. "I think originally people were worried if we would be good enough [without them]. We did better — I think it's over."

There is speculation that Hooper, who turned 39 in January, is nearing the end of her international career, although before her suspension she was a starting member of the squad and scored four goals in her past six games.

The training camp, funded by Greg Kerfoot, who owns the Whitecaps of the W-League in Vancouver, runs until March 8 and includes 24 members of Canada's national team as they prepare for the 2007 Women's World Cup in China.

Pellerud said his training-camp roster was formulated to reward the players who helped Canada qualify for the World Cup during games last November.

"The players that committed to the national program this past year have worked their butts off to represent Canada and they deserve a chance in training camp, too," Pellerud said. "I wanted to reward them for their hard work in training camp and match performance in qualifying as well. The team's training camp roster is not set in stone and can change at any time."

Whether the three players are included in future training camp sessions is up to Pellerud, but the controversy surrounding their earlier suspensions appears headed to third-party arbitration.

The three players hired Calgary lawyer Alan Ross after their suspension last September and Canadian Soccer Association officials confirmed Tuesday the controversy will likely be heard by the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, a body that mediates unresolved disputes within Canada's various governing bodies of sport.

A copy of the players' appeal to the SDRCC, obtained by The Globe and Mail, alleges that Pellerud pressured Latham to break her existing professional contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks and join the Canadian national team's residency program in Vancouver.

It also alleges that Pellerud "harassed" Hooper because of her protests about the residency program and he breached the CSA's code of conduct by trying to force a written apology from Hooper.

It adds the coach tampered with the national team roster in an attempt to influence the outcome of last year's W-League playoffs in favour of the Whitecaps.

The players and CSA staff have refused to comment about the appeals process but they may get word of a timeline and possible dates for a hearing as early as Wednesday.

So. This shabby little episode continues, with players being drummed out of the team for objecting to the unconscionable behaviour of the CSA and the coach.

The SDRCC arbitration will merely rubber stamp the CSA's position, and those three players will be gone forever.

4,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Excerpts from a June 4 news item:

Colin Linford, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, said it's unlikely the women's team will have a single exhibition game on home grass before the Sept. 10-30 World Cup in China because they don't have the resources to stage one.

"We'd love to have a game, but are you going to bankrupt the association to do it?" he asked.
There's a feeling in soccer circles that the women's team has fallen completely off the radar since Linford took over last November.

The team has marquee names in Christine Sinclair, who contended for FIFA's women's player of the year the last two years, and Oakville's Kara Lang. But not only do they not rate a single home date in a World Cup campaign, they don't have a sponsor.

Linford said it's a vicious circle.

"What exposure can you actually give to the sponsors?" asked Linford. "Let's be fair. You say the women's team are not going to be playing any games in Canada prior to the World Cup. That's highly probable. So if you were a sponsor, what exposure would you actually get for being a sponsor within the country the team represents?"

Keith McIntyre, a prominent Canadian sports marketer, said the women's team "fell off the face of the earth" because the CSA failed to promote them. "I mean I've rarely seen anything in print or in electronic media," said McIntyre. "What happens is it loses its momentum."

Things were dramatically different in the lead-up to the 2003 World Cup in the U.S., where Canada finished a strong fourth. The Canadian women's team drew large crowds to its seven home games - 18,000 and 19,000 to two matches at Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa and 29,593 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

Linford said despite the big crowds in 2003, the CSA lost money on every game because low ticket prices didn't match the expenses.

Karin Lofstrom, executive director of the Canadian Association for the Advance of Women and Sport, noted the CSA doesn't have "a history of being super supportive of the women's side." She said the question of equity has more to do with the effort made than the dollars spent. "It's not like it's only been a problem this past year," said Lofstrom. "There's a need for it to be more than lip service."

Linford insists the women's program isn't being ignored, a claim echoed by Chris Collie, managing director of the CSA's marketing arm, Soccer Canada Properties. "It's probably more a reflection of the [men's] under-20 team just being front and centre in so many different ways," said Collie. "Colin, with the executive and the board, they have to balance what the priorities are. ... In no way should that send a message the women's team or the men's team are any less important."

Linford has been unabashed in saying he believes a soccer nation's true worth is determined by its men's team. He's not prone to mention where the women fit in unless prodded.

"Obviously, the women give the country exposure," said Linford. "But if you're talking about major, major revenues and major, major sponsors, the men will always in any country in the world generate more money and more exposure and more interest than the women's game."

Update: Linford has resigned. CSA in turmoil.
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