Stalemate

KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

Plans by the Canadian Professional Soccer League to launch a women's league next spring have been rejected by the governing body, but league officials say they'll press on regardless.

The Ontario Soccer Association board of directors voted Sunday to nix new leagues from forming until 2007.

A report on the structure of women's play in the province is expected in February 2006 and the OSA feels there would not be enough time to start a league next season after the report comes out.

However, the CPSL plans to run one anyway -- the Canadian Women's Soccer League.

London City women's manager Ryan Gauss promised the CWSL will operate next season, "regardless of what the OSA's decision is."

This year, six Ontario women's teams are competing in a three-month-long tournament structure -- called the Canada Cup -- under the wing of the CPSL.

"This venture has gone on without a hitch," Gauss said.

City goalkeeper Jessy Kapitany said putting the league on hold a year would likely spell its demise.

"Once you start the wheels rolling, to walk away from it . . . it gets out of people's minds. It was quite a project for people involved in this to get it going. To take all of this work away . . . it will be a huge setback."

CPSL communications director Stan Adamson feels the league must continue with plans for a women's division.

"You don't give up on these things. You fight the good fight."

CPSL commissioner Cary Kaplan said other sports do not try to quash the development of their sport, especially when it has been shown that growth is needed.

"It only happens with soccer," he said.

Kaplan said he is not surprised by the decision and said it's time to change the relationship between the governing body and his league.

"The problem is the system doesn't work. The CPSL is a business. There are too many restrictions," Kaplan said.

"The league needs more autonomy. You have districts voting on professional soccer. They don't have an interest in professional soccer. It's a vote you can never win."

The CPSL completed a 100-page marketing report to support its application for a women's league.

Numbers show there are enough elite female players in the sport to warrant a professional Canadian league.

In London, besides City's team, the London Gryphons play in the U.S.-based W-League and London United plays in the Ontario Women's Soccer League.

"It has shown the need is there," Adamson said.

Kapitany said she was pleased to have a choice of where to play elite soccer.

"Last summer, I played for the Gryphons and I did the travelling. I have to work and I can't take off days to play a soccer game. It was a nice change to play at a good high level and to not have to make that kind of commitment in terms of time."

Kaplan will speak to the OSA on Aug. 25, but he is doubtful it will change anything.

CPSL officials said the goal now is to work with the OSA to eventually allow the league more freedom.

"We've got to keep at it. We've got to do some more convincing," Adamson said.

"The relationship with the OSA has to be different," Kaplan said. "I'll try to educate people on the problem. We have to find a way to change the system."

Kaplan said the CPSL's plans are good for soccer.

"Isn't it in the best interest of soccer to have this league? It's a credit to the CPSL owners, we're not going to buy into that bureaucratic practice. Let's find a way to do it."


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