Canada Soccer – The Ugly Game

on January 2018 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

It has been almost a week since Canada Soccer dropped a bomb with its announcement of a new head coach for the Men’s National team. John Herdman is in and, Octavio Zambrano is out. For a moment, forget about why the decision was made and why it was made now. Forget about judging how Zambrano did or what Herdman might do. Instead, let’s concentrate on how your soccer federation mishandled the entire affair and is still continuing to mishandle it.

You would think enough time has passed for the dust to settle so that one could analyze what transpired, and with it a clearer vision of how Canada Soccer operates. Sadly, transparency is a foreign a word to this organization as this country is to scoring a World Cup goal. Apart from the announcement, some carefully selected interviews and being cited as an unnamed source a couple of times, there has been nothing forthcoming from anyone in Canada Soccer. Isn’t it odd that I have not come across many (if any) quotes from the Directos? That there has been little if any reactions from the men’s players? In fact, there has yet to be an official press conference and I am not sure if there will ever be one. It really makes you wonder if Sid is correct in calling them out as gutless cowards.

The facts are… well, that’s the problem. We don’t have any facts. We can speculate that this all started because of John Herdman. It started with him, but he is certainly not to blame. He should be thanked for doing a phenomenal job with the Canadian Women’s Soccer team (including winning the Bronze medal in two Olympics) and he should have the full support of everyone as we get behind him and the Men’s National Team. But it did start with Herdman’s desire to one day coach the men’s side and he expressed that interest to Canada Soccer. There is no issue with anyone having a goal and expressing it.

It has been reported that within the last few weeks, Herdman has received some tempting offers including one to coach the British Women’s team (his home country) and even been to coach a men’s team in the MLS. So it is possible that Herdman may have forced this coaching change stating that he may leave for one of these other positions if he didn’t get what he wants. Again, there is no issue with someone being very clear with his intentions.

If the people at Canada Soccer felt that Herdman is the right man for the position long term, as he not only takes over coaching duties, but will also be the Director of the Men’s side aged 14 and up, then there should be no issue with them making the move to Herdman. It is after all their decision to make and theirs alone. How they came to that solution though shouldn’t be a closely guarded secret. Yes, it is an unusual decision because Herdman has absolutely no experience in coaching any type of men’s team and yes, the timing is awkward as Zambrano by all accounts was doing a very good job.

In the ten month’s that he was at the helm, Zambrano didn’t just raise Canada’s ranking from 117 to 94, but he was also able to do what no other coach before has. He instilled an attacking style of play that was entertaining and successful. Sure there was still room for improvement but there was something different about this team, something positive, something that made you look forward to their next game. In this light, it is more important than ever that the ruling body in this country explain their decision to make a change when for once we were heading in the right direction. Sorry, let me rephrase… it would be considered wise that an organization with an absolutely horrible, disgusting and atrocious on field record and an even worse off field record (this is the 13th coaching hire in the last 15 years) be a little transparent dontcha think?

It wouldn’t have taken much either.

“Dear Canada, we want to thank Octavio Zambrano for all the fine work he has done with our program and the insights he has brought. Due to some unfortunate timing we have had to let him go at this time as we are handing the keys over to John Herdman who will be running the entire Men’s Division. We are making this move as we feel John can not only help the Men’s team grow, but also assist youth soccer in this country to ensure that we continually have a large pool of talent players for generations to come.” Hmm, maybe they should hire me.

But no, that’s not what they did. Instead an “unnamed source” mentioned that Zambrano was in trouble since Day 1. That “source” mentioned that he ruffled feathers at Canada Soccer and that the team didn’t play for him. A smear campaign was started to somehow elicit the sentiment that this was a decision that just had to be made. Why do they have to play these ugly, childish and idiotic games as if Canada desperately needed to rid themselves of this cancer to protect soccer in this country.

This is a sad state of leadership and one that as Canadians, we should all be ashamed of. The question though still remains, how do we protect Canadian soccer from Canada Soccer?

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