Soccer

Butler: Quite a soccer week for Canada, EH?

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Noel Butler
9/7/2013 3:54:38 PM
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Shortly after the name Fellaini and the number 31 were ironed on to the back of one of football's most iconic club shirts late Monday night, a record breaking transfer window slammed shut - then in less time than it takes to sign a cheque for €100m, much of world football immediately turned its attention to crucial world cup qualifiers. 

Sadly not here though, But when the nation awoke Tuesday morning little did we know then what a most eventful post Labour Day week in soccer lay in store for this most glorious land we are all privileged to call home.

Rather ominously it began with yet more revelations the global match fixing industry had uprooted itself from its Malaysian base for a profitable summer visit to southern Ontario.

World renowned match fixing super sleuth Declan Hill, who himself hails from that very same Canadian province, would have taken no pleasure in uttering the words he did on the radio Tuesday afternoon.

Like all successful criminals, the global money printing syndicates had identified a marshmallow soft target.

For all the good it has done for football development in the region, the CSL has reportedly become a favoured destination for these criminal tourists.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that this is happening, almost encouraged to occur, right under the noses of one of the globes most recognized law enforcement agencies.

Hill wasn't finished, He signed off his blog posting with the promise of yet more revelations to come.

In the interim, it's well past time for the RCMP to get off its high horses and intervene whilst getting the full cooperation of all the relevant Canadian soccer authorities.

Meanwhile in a Toronto suburb, Toronto FC's Kevin Payne went to bed Tuesday night in the knowledge his brief time in the city of Canada's original MLS franchise had come to an all too familiar, highly embarrassing end.

The well-oiled revolving Princess Gate door has become Canadian soccer's version of Buckingham Palace's annual changing of the guard.

Part of MLS's original fabric, Payne spent way too much of his time explaining himself. Banging on about the difficulties and challenges, than actually finding the required solutions.

Let alone set about signing the required winning talent Toronto FC's fantastic fan base surely deserve.

If the sophomore Impact have been able to sign the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Marco Di Vaio and Matteo Ferrari as Payne wiled away his final DC days. Then under his TFC watch, sign players of the Hernan Bernarello and Adran Lopez calibre and pedigree - why can't an individual Don Garber describes as 'one of MLS's most legendry executives' do the same?

Bluntly put and as I stated when Payne was appointed as TFC Governor General last November, the leagues global reach has moved well on and firmly away from its original structures. Ones that Payne so effortlessly exploited early on in his almost two decade spell at DC United. 

Far easier to scout and sign the best the US soccer college system produces than it is to swim with the sharks and pariahs of world football, hey Kevin?

The print hadn't even dried on the Toronto FC official statement announcing KP's demise, when the world famous bait-and-switch PR card was played by MLSE.

The conversation immediately reverting to the possibility of a TFC and Argos time share.

On hearing this, my mind immediately shifted to a previous life, and another senior soccer executive who goes by the KP moniker.

Stand up Kevin Pipe. CSA Chief Operation Officer who in an act of sheer desperation back in 2005 offered the Toronto Argonauts everything but the actual goal nets which were required to build a soccer stadium, as ways to ensure Toronto became the capital city of FIFA Under-20 World Cup Canada 2007.

We all know now of course how that turned out.

I won't easily forget that now legendry November 2005 afternoon at Toronto City Hall as I listened in on-line to a rather heated debate as approvals were given for the construction of the so called national soccer stadium on city owned land at Exhibition Place.

A gift horse MLSE welcomed with open arms.

Meanwhile outside of Toronto, many of the most influential stakeholders of Canadian soccer were left furious with the outcome as $20 million or so of federally donated tax dollars were fully placed in the bank account marked; Stadium Construction.

Pipe rightfully lost his job, Toronto got its soccer stadium where a few months on from completion  a very certain future son-in-law of Diego Maradona, Sergio 'Kun' Agüero scored one of the goals in the Under-20 final as Argentina reigned supreme down by the lake Ontario water in summer '07.

This week we got a very rude reminder, part of Pipe's tainted legacy has ensured it will be MLSE and not the CSA who decides if a ground share is a viable option at what is supposed to be the national soccer stadium.

The mere fact it is the Argos who toyed and ultimately let down our national body back in the mid 2000's makes the possibility for a TFC and Argos marriage for me all that more difficult to fathom.

Mercifully the emotional roller coaster work week for Canadian soccer ended on a highly memorable, vastly more enjoyable note.

The most famous Geordie in women's world football committing himself to the WNT cause all the way to 2020 as a very visionary CSA saw off any advances for Herdman - for a soon to be celebrating 150th birthday celebrating English FA.

All this coming against a backdrop of the MNT Floro era getting under way this week in Valencia, Spain.

Put that in your Pipe and smoke it.

You can reach and follow Noel Butler at:

Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca

@TheSoccerNoel

Kevin Payne  (Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images)
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