Our national disgrace

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

CHENGDU, China -- The battleground is supposed to be 28,269-seat Chengdu Sports Stadium in the middle of downtown in this Sichuan Province capital city of seven million people.

It's where Canada plays Australia tomorrow in the go-on or go-home game in Group C of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

But it was a practice field behind a bowling alley here yesterday where the shots were being fired as the Canadian girls expressed disappointment and coach Even Pellerud and manager Les Meszaros escalated their outrage at the Canadian Soccer Association here yesterday.

SPIT HIT THE FAN

That's where the spit hit the fan with the revelation in Sunday's Sun Media newspapers from here that the CSA turned down a CONCACAF request to play host to the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Angus Barrett of St. John's, N.L., the head of delegation, executive member of the association and director at large, was confronted by media members here to explain the decision.

He said the CSA, an organization currently without a president, a CEO or an executive director, "couldn't afford the $300,000 to $400,000 it would cost" to play host to the six-team tournament in Canada despite the advantage it would give Canada in attempting to get to next summer's Beijing Olympic Games. The event is now expected to be held in Haiti.

"Haiti can afford it but Canada can't?" said Meszaros. "How do you explain that to the Canadian public?"

You can't. Especially after Pellerud, who is on the final year of his contract, was inspired to reveal more of the dirty details.

"We're talking about pocket money," he said.

"We could easily get all that money back in ticket sales if we put up the money," he added of the event next March.

Do the math. It's chump change.

Pellerud said he'd even arranged a local organizing committee to play host to the event in Victoria.

"I told the association they could take the money out of our team budget.

"That was my offer to them. We believed there would be no problem at all recovering it. The CSA simply didn't want to make the effort to do it. It's a very big disappointment to me and the whole team."

Kara Lang, a member of the Canadian team which finished in the final four of the Women's World Cup four years ago but then went and lost the get-to-the-Olympics game against Mexico in the qualifying tournament in Costa Rica, said it was "extremely disappointing" to the team.

"It really would have put us at an advantage. It would have made it a lot easier."

"It's disappointing for sure," said veteran Andrea Neil. "I don't know if there are reasons for it that we don't understand."

Barrett said "the CSA decided it would cost us too much to host. Next year is going to be a very expensive year with World Cup qualifying games for the men's team and the women's team preparations for the Olympic qualifying. There are huge demands for national teams next year."

RECORD ATTENDANCE

He said despite setting a record attendance of 1,192,161 in playing host to the recent FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, the association managed to lose money. Five years ago the association played host to the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships centred in Edmonton and made enough money to cover costs and pay FIFA host seeding money back.

Barrett didn't dispute the advantage it would give Canada to qualify at home.

"I agree. There's no doubt about it," he said. "I don't blame Even one bit.

"He wants the best for his players."

And the CSA doesn't?

Where there's a will, there's a way.

Pellerud showed the will and the way.

The Canadian Soccer Association has clearly lost their way.

The organization has become a national disgrace.


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