Controversy in soccer camp

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Canada's national women's soccer team is training in Burnaby this week under cloudy skies and clouds of controversy.

Charmaine Hooper, who played in Canada's first women's international match in 1986, Christine Latham and Sharolta Nonen were suspended for not reporting to August's matches versus China in St. John's, Nfld. They were cut from the Canadian Soccer Association's Vancouver-based residency program funded by Whitecaps' owner Greg Kerfoot, who is paying players $20,000 a year.

The trio then hired a lawyer. So did the CSA, which refuses to comment.

Canada will play in South Korea's Peace Queen Cup friendly tournament and the Women's Gold Cup without the trio. Canada needs to win the Nov. 22 Gold Cup semifinal to qualify for 2007's Women's World Cup in China.

"It's very unfortunate. Those are three huge players for the team," said midfielder Andrea Neil. "The team also has to move on and prepare for qualifying for another World Cup. It's a team decision."

Neil, a veteran since 1991, expects FIFA world player of the year nominee Christine Sinclair to captain Canada this fall.

Hooper told Canadian Press wire service that she would not play again for head coach Even Pellerud. She has been irate since a July 30 friendly against the United States. Pellerud selected Hooper and Karina LeBlanc from the W-League's New Jersey Wildcats, but didn't choose any Ottawa Fury players. Goalkeeper LeBlanc was not used in the U.S. game, which was played the same day the Fury upset New Jersey in the Eastern conference final.


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