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Umbro should kick off real change for Canadian soccer

Change is coming to Canadian soccer – and here’s hoping it will extend beyond announcing a new shirt sponsor.

Change is coming to Canadian soccer – and here’s hoping it will extend beyond announcing a new shirt sponsor.

Last night, at an intimate venue in downtown Toronto, the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) introduced Umbro as their new corporate partner for the Men’s National Team.

Given that Canadian soccer hasn’t exactly been flush with corporate support over the years – 1986 being the last time they qualified for a World Cup – any announcement is big and it wasn’t lost on those Canadian supporters in attendance that the new jersey had an 80s flair to it.

And while the new jerseys are great, and the corporate support certainly welcome, the talk of the evening lay squarely with the opportunity before Canadian soccer.

Come Feb. 5, the CSA will vote on a reform package that seeks to transform the way Canadian soccer is governed.

At present, individual provincial associations have a significant say when it comes to governing the Canadian game and our national teams. It’s made for terrible self-interested politicking and almost completely impossible for the national body to govern properly.

A vote, taken last May by the governing body just to study the feasibility of change, was barely passed by the provincial associations. Quebec and Alberta voted outright against it while Manitoba abstained.

Since then, seeing the potential end of their little fiefdoms, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have all quietly begun expressing their own concerns for the reforms – reforms that largely seek to take the power out of the hands of volunteers and put it into those of professionals.

By last fall, there was so little support for the original reforms, the CSA executive had to broker a deal to at least table a watered down reform package the groups could vote on.

For the casual observer it’s hard to imagine why Canadian soccer, which has diddled around in mediocrity for the last 20 years, would not want embrace any positive change. But when you realize these volunteers get perks like trips to World Cups -- among other things -- it’s not hard to figure out why they don’t want to give up their positions of power.

For their part, Umbro has stepped forward from corporate Canada and pledged their support to the Canadian game until 2014. It’s a huge gesture.

Now the CSA needs to do the same for the Canadian game, by voting in the reforms.

 
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