A verbal fight has broken out between the men and the women in Canadian soccer, writes Gareth Wheeler. When TV color commentator Jason de Vos questioned the kick and rush tactics of women's team
coach Even Pellerud in the Olympic quarterfinal loss to the U.S. last week, Canadian women's team captain Christine Sinclair responded by asking where the men were at the Olympic tournament
(answer: they didn't qualify).
"The men's team is not at the Olympics," Sinclair said. "It's a shame to hear men's players saying that when they are
nowhere." Wheeler gives her credit for being loyal to her coach, but says de Vos' criticism was fair and that the "Canadian women's team's biggest failure was its inability to
hold up the ball in the midfield and provide any kind of decent service to Sinclair and the other striking options."
Wheeler also says that the road to qualification in CONCACAF
is much easier for the women. For the men, "not only are there more strong sides than qualifying spots available, but our men regularly deal with a half-assed commitment from the CSA [Canadian
Soccer Association] and, in turn, an ambivalent response from the Canadian public. Not to suggest things are perfect on the funding front on the women's side, but the men always seem to be treated
as an after-thought."
Wheeler says that a strong men's program would be far better for Canadian soccer for "there is little to be gained through sponsorship, ticket sales,
and television deals for the women's game. Yet, the point that a strong men's team can be much more profitable often is ignored." The current men's team "is the most talented
this country has ever seen. They play an attractive, attacking brand of football. They are the ones that need our support."
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