Let's share the 'wealth

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:06 AM ET

It's been called a kick in the head for Canadian soccer.

But the fallout from the York University stadium fiasco might just leave Edmonton with the political equivalent of an open goal.

Commonwealth Stadium was initially announced as the chosen venue for the final of the 2007 FIFA world under-20 soccer championship.

But the Canadian Soccer Association recently "clarified'' the situation by saying that the two cities already selected as tournament hosts - Edmonton and Toronto - would both be considered for the marquee game. Anything to do with Toronto's bid to build a 25,000-seater stadium on the grounds of York University?

"We simply said we are going to reserve judgment just now,'' CSA COO Kevan Pipe told the Sun yesterday.

"Our board of directors has said that we are going to be making a decision on the final in July.''

The York stadium project was rocked this week by news that one of the funding partners - the Toronto Argonauts - has been offered a rent-free deal to stay at the Rogers Centre.

The Argos are expected to confirm in the next few days whether they will pull out of a deal to pay the final $20 million of the $70-million, 25,000-seat York stadium.

RACE AGAINST TIME

Word is they'll take advantage of the free rent, which could force the stadium project to be downsized - and leave the CSA facing a race against time to get it ready for 2007.

Pipe said "the most fantastic'' stadium available to the CSA in Canada, regardless of what happens in Toronto, is Commonwealth.

So why not just declare Edmonton the winner now?

"All we are saying is 'let's wait and see what happens,' '' said Pipe.

In the meantime, Edmonton continues to lobby hard for the right to host the final.

And given the success of the 2002 Women's Under-19 World Championships, Edmonton has a pretty persuasive case.

"Edmonton's representatives have and will continue to push Edmonton's case that this is the ideal spot to have this event,'' said Edmonton Economic Development Corporation spokesman Kenn Bur.

All that should be left is for the CSA to rubber-stamp the deal. And for Edmonton soccer fans to show up in their thousands.

FANDEMONIUM: You know soccer fans' love for the game is getting out of hand when they start getting David Beckham tattoos on their neck.

But a Columbian funeral parlour is hoping to cash in on supporters' fanaticism even after they die - by offering to bury clients in the colours of their clubs.

"Some might think it's a little extreme, but Colombians really adore soccer," said Camilo Andres Jaramillo, manager of the San Vicente funeral parlour.

Caskets are available in either green (Atletico Nacional) or red (Independiente Medellin) and an embroidered club emblem can also be stitched to the inside lining of the casket lid.

FIGHTIN' TALK: Anyone tired of hearing Jose "the ego has landed'' Mourinho trade verbal barbs with the likes of Arsene Wenger is probably hoping some bright spark will come up with a celebrity soccer version of King of the Cage - to settle the scores once and for all.

But my choice of contestants would be limited to two players: super brat Craig Bellamy and Alan "drop me and you're fired'' Shearer.

Bellamy, on loan at Celtic after throwing too many tantrums at Newcastle, apparently sent Shearer insulting text messages after his former teammates lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup.

"It was along the lines that he was past it and his legs had gone,'' Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd told the Daily Express.

If they ever make it into the cage, my money's on Shearer's legs holding out - long enough for a knockout.


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