Women's Canada Cup up in air

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Cancelled games, accusations and inquiries from a general manager of a team in a competing league have added to the mess around the Canadian Soccer League's women's Canada Cup tournament.

Scheduled to begin play two weeks ago, not one game has gone ahead. Four were scheduled last Saturday at Cove Road field. London City Lady Selects and Windsor Border Stars were to play, but it was cancelled when the Windsor Border Stars didn't arrive on time. When they did show 30 minutes late, they didn't have enough players.

The issue was travel permits. Any team playing outside its district needs a permit from its district.

Some districts refused to issue them. Selects general manager Ryan Gauss said permits are rarely an issue as "90 per cent of the games are played without permits. It's for insurance purposes and some districts still like to issue them and that's fine."

Travel permits shouldn't be a big issue, since the Canada Cup games are considered exhibitions. That raises the issue of why some districts aren't issuing them and why the Ontario Soccer Association isn't forcing districts to issue them.

Gauss said some districts aren't in favour of the CSL fielding women's teams. He also accused Aldo Caranci, general manager of the W-League's London Gryphons, of undermining the venture by calling the OSA, asking if the games were approved.

"We were told by the OSA that if the districts didn't issue travel permits, the OSA would step in and issue them," Gauss said. "Then (Caranci) calls the OSA and at the 11th hour, the OSA says the games can't be played without the permits.

"Why is Mr. Caranci getting involved in a league he has no business getting involved in? What's his concern in this?"

Natalie D'Oria, a talented midfielder who played with the Gryphons last season, is now with the Lady Selects. There are suspicions the signing heightened the animosity between the two teams.

In an e-mail to Bruce Henderson of the OSA, Marloes van der Leeuw, program co-ordinator, organizational development for the OSA, says she got a call from Caranci on Friday pointing to a story in The Free Press that indicated Canada Cup games would be played in London on Saturday.

"Mr. Caranci has concerns as to whether these games have been sanctioned by the OSA," Henderson said.

He responded the games had not been approved and couldn't be played. The phone call drew a rebuke for Caranci from the Elgin Middlesex Soccer Association.

"Mr Caranci should not be making inquiries directly to the OSA, certainly not about matters which are none of his business," said an e-mail to Henderson from EMSA. "His business is to make sure his London Gryphons team meets the requirements the OSA has set out for his team."

Messages left for the OSA were not returned.

"No comment," Caranci said yesterday when contacted.

Even though last year's women's Canada Cup tournament was completed successfully, it wasn't without issues. There was plenty of backroom bickering. The CSL is hoping to form an official league in 2007 with the OSA's approval.

Gauss said there'll be games Saturday at Cove Road as teams will receive approvals from their associations.


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