Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd., more specifically its soccer team, Toronto FC has consistently managed to embarrass itself so the latest drama engulfing the team really is no surprise.
On Monday, TFC interim general manager Earl Cochrane responded to rumours originating in the U.K. that captain Dwayne De Rosario would be going on trial with top Scottish side Celtic by stating: "Dwayne is not going on trial with Celtic or any other club ... We have not received word from anyone and expect him to be with TFC when training camp opens next month.”
But on Tuesday, there De Rosario was, sporting Celtic gear while kicking off a week of evaluation with the club in Scotland.
That forced TFC to respond with another statement:
"We were unaware of Dwayne's plan to train with Celtic and we will contact them to understand the situation. Obviously, if there is interest in a short-term loan arrangement by either him or Celtic, they will need to approach us and the League formally and we will consider based on what is in TFC's best interest."
It boggles the mind that TFC had no inkling of De Rosario’s plans. So much so, that it was hard to take that statement at face value. The rumours did not just pop up on Monday, they had been out there.
It was also not a secret that De Rosario was unhappy with his hometown club, which missed the playoffs again with a 9-13-8 record.
Sure enough, later, it became clear this was an issue of semantics.
De Rosario’s brother, Mark did not respond to a Sun request to comment, but was quoted in multiple reports that his brother would not just head to Scotland without getting permission. Meanwhile, Cochrane later clarified the situation in a new release:
"Dwayne's agent contacted me (about a month ago) and asked if we would let Dwayne train (with) a club and we said we would, but would have to have something official in place that would provide us with some assurances that should Dwayne get hurt, we would be covered. They understood that completely,” Cochrane wrote.
"I have not received anything official from Dwayne or his agent or Celtic. MLS will reach out to Celtic to clear up this situation and will do what is best for Toronto FC.”
TFC unwisely originally attempted to spin the saga as if it had no idea De Rosario was even considering a trial before, later, admitting it actually did.
That was a massive mistake by the organization.
If De Rosario went overseas without getting the club’s consent, as Cochrane’s statements imply, he made just as severe a mistake.
As captain and team leader, he simply cannot behave in such a manner.
Even if his frustration is understandable. He scored 15 goals last season while his teammates combined for just 18 more, his salary was dwarfed by designated players Julian de Guzman and Mista and the team also strangely gave its MVP award to defender Adrian Cann, largely, it is believed, because of the stunt De Rosario pulled after scoring a goal in a late-season loss to San Jose.
The Scarborough native pretended to sign a cheque — and later said it was meant to urge the team to rip up his contract and reward him with the raise he felt he deserved.
De Rosario did not return a call, but said at the end of the season “I hope to be (back in Toronto).”
But after being named to the all-MLS team two years in a row, he obviously feels he deserves better and is willing to go all the way to Scotland to get results.
De Rosario is basically forcing the club’s hand. He is 32 and knows this is his last opportunity for a huge payday.
How will this latest TFC soap opera conclude? Bet on De Rosario getting his raise, but don’t put up the house on him being a Red while he's earning it.