Canada should be in Copa

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

While watching the Copa America tournament, I can't help but wonder why the Canadian Soccer Association hasn't worked harder to get into this tournament.

Granted it's the South American soccer championships, but with only 10 teams on the continent, organizers traditionally invite a pair of non-continental teams to round out the tournament.

This year's event features the U.S. and Mexico, two teams that compete against Canada in the CONCACAF region.

Both teams got on a plane to Venezuela the day after playing in the Gold Cup final.

Canada did earn an invite to the Copa America back in 2001 by virtue of winning the Gold Cup the previous summer.

However the invitation was declined after the event in Colombia was postponed due to security reasons one day, then given the go-ahead the next.

At the time, the CSA said they had already told their top players the tournament was off and had released them for the summer. I guess it would have been too hard to call them back the next day.

Considering the opportunity to play against South American countries in a meaningful competition, Canada should have fielded a team to send to Colombia regardless.

Since then there have been two editions of the Copa America and the CSA has not done anything to be included in any of them. Why not? The subject was broached with CSA president Colin Linford, but he had no comment.

When the U.S. turned down an invite to participate in the 2004 tournament Canada should have jumped at the opportunity.

Look at what competing in that tournament has done for the U.S. and Mexico.

It's time to stop looking across the pond and perhaps acknowledge that competing against South American teams would be a pretty good way to develop Canadian talent.


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