CSF has a point, but who are these guys?

GEORGE GROSS

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

The Canadian Soccer Federation: A New Way Forward.

That heading, on a pamphlet e-mailed to me recently, contains some scathing criticism of the Canadian Soccer Association and its failure to develop the game to a degree that would make this country's soccer fans proud.

These opinions -- the same ones I have been expressing for at least 30 years -- come from the newly created CSF, a group of former and current soccer officials, ex-members of our national team and inductees into Canada's Soccer Hall of Fame.

There were no names listed for the group, but its message is to the point.

"Canadian soccer's numerous governing bodies have become unresponsive to the needs of players, coaches and administrators," the CSF says.

"They have consistently failed to add sufficient value to their membership in order to justify the significant (and growing) registration 'taxis' that they extract.

"They have not provided the leadership that is expected of them, nor have they made the commitment of transparency, accountability and strategic planning that the membership demands."

The CSF goes on to say that "the time has come for a national governing body for soccer, possessing a vision, a mission and a mandate to restructure the way the sport is governed and administered in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to move soccer forward with a greater sense of optimism and vibrancy."

The mystery critics point to the folding of the Canadian Soccer League in 1992, but could just as easily have mentioned the defunct Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League, which boasted three teams in Toronto -- Toronto City, Toronto Italia and Toronto Roma -- as well as the Hamilton Steelers and Montreal Cantalia and drew sellout crowds to Varsity Stadium. Moreover, Toronto City featured such star players as Sir Stanley Matthews, Johnny Haynes, Tommy Younger, Danny Blanchflower and Jackie Mudie.

Unfortunately, in 1962, the English Football League barred all players from playing off-season in Canada and, as a result, the ECPSL was forced to find second and third-division players before folding in 1965 for lack of funds.

The CSF's steering committee will be holding an open meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., in the York Room of the Monte Carlo Inn (705 Applewood Cres., in the Hwys. 7 and 400 area) to explain its objectives.

The only thing that bothers me with all of this is that nowhere can we find the names of the members of the CSF. Are they, as they say they are, genuine soccer experts with a proven background, or yo-yos trying to hustle their names forward into the annals of Canadian soccer?

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Canada's women's team is holding its residency training camp in Vancouver in preparation for the CONCACAF Olympic qualification tournament. Only two teams from CONCACAF will qualify for Beijing ... TLN will show three key UEFA Champions League knockout-round matches: Liverpool versus Inter Milan (tomorrow, 2:35 p.m.) -- the first clash in 40 years for these two teams. Two hours later, it's AS Roma vs. Real Madrid and, on Wednesday (2:35 p.m.) Arsenal takes on AC Milan ... Canada's men's under-23 team will open training camp on March 1 in Oxnard, Calif., before the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic qualifier. Its first game will be against Mexico, at Carson, Calif., on March 12. Canada also will face Haiti on March 14 and Guatemala on March 16. The two top teams advance to the March 20 semi-finals in Nashville.


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