Canadian soccer leaves Iarusci fuming

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

A few years ago, Bob Iarusci was one of the stalwarts of the Canadian men's soccer team.

He was calm, collected and talented, just as he is as co-host of the Thursday soccer show on the FAN 590.

These days, however, he is upset the way the Canadian Soccer Association, a buddy-buddy group, handles the fortunes -- or perhaps misfortunes -- of the Canadian national team. Small wonder, he feels, that the team is not among the top 50 in the world.

"I'm fed up with the state of our game and the mediocre (at best) governance we had to endure as players directly," he wrote to me recently, "and now, as people who are directly involved in the management of soccer at every level.

"When I played, we had developed a pretty strong team (no thanks to the CSA), but rather the NASL (North American Soccer League) where all of our players were playing. We qualified for the World Cup in Mexico in 1986 and should have qualified for Spain four years earlier. (We were coached by a high school coach from Chiliwack, B.C., with no offence to Chiliwack.) We were a better side than the U.S. then.

"Today, we are in complete disarray, with no light at the end of the tunnel. I'm going to rally my fellow Canadian national team players from the past to get behind this movement (the newly created Canadian Soccer Federation), players like Jason DeVos, Bruce Wilson, Bobby Lenarduzzi, Bruce Twamley, Les Wilson, etc."

There is no doubt that soccer in Canada has major problems. But just how could the CSF and some of its capable executives take over from the impotent CSA, is difficult to predict.

And if they need some help from me, they can count on it.

SUPPORT THE LADIES

The current national women's senior team is determined to become the first Canadian side to qualify for the Olympics by finishing on or near the top of the CONCACAF qualification tournament in Mexico from April 2-13.

Canadian clubs and fans can encourage the team by e-mailing the squad at: believe@soccercan.ca or by sending fax messages to 778-330-1396. All mailed items must arrive in Vancouver by March 25. Incidentally, the draw for the qualifying tourney will be held today in New York.

CORNER KICKS

Gyula Grosics, the great goalkeeper of the Hungarian national team in the 1950s, recently underwent a lung operation in Budapest. He was in goal when Hungary became the first European side to defeat England 6-3 at Wembley in 1953 ... An English group purchased the famous Hungarian team Ferencvaros Budapest and promised to build a new stadium for the team within three years ... Canada's men's under-23 team announced the names of 30 provisionally selected players for the eight-team CONCACAF Olympic qualification tournament, beginning March 12 at Carson, Calif. Only four of the 30 nominated by coach Nick Dasovic are from Toronto, including Toronto FC's Andrea Lombardo ... David Beckham leads the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS to the Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii. The other teams involved in the tourney are Houston Dynamo, Japan's Gamba Osaka and Australia's Sydney FC. Hopefully, this time Beckham will play ... Canada's men's team will face Panama in a friendly match at Panama City on June 6. The game is a tuneup for Canada's 2010 World Cup qualifier against Saint Vincent & the Grenadines on June 15 ... Three interesting UEFA Championship matches will be broadcast by TLN: AC Milan versus Arsenal on March 4, Real Madrid vs. AS Roma on March 5 and Inter Milan vs. Liverpool on March 11. All telecasts start at 2:35.


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