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Canada Soccer increases membership fees starting in 2025 to help improve revenue

Canada soccer logo Canada Soccer logo - The Canadian Press

Financially challenged Canada Soccer took a step toward improving its bottom line Saturday, voting to increase its annual membership fee for players by $4 starting in 2025.

Soccer players will pay a $13 fee, up from $9 in what Canada Soccer says is the first membership fee hike since 2017.

Canada Soccer also has a new president-elect in Peter Augruso. The president and chair of Ontario Soccer ran unopposed after incumbent Charmaine Crooks announced before the vote that she would not seek re-election in order to pursue other opportunities.

The fee increase came in the form of two motions at the annual general meeting in Montreal.

The first called for a raise of $3 to go to the national governing body. The second called for an additional $1 hike with half going to Canadian national youth programs and half going to Project 8, the group behind the women's domestic pro league currently under construction.

The $3 fee increase would generate an extra $2.2 million using current numbers, given Canada Soccer's 2023 annual report lists countrywide membership of some 739,642.

Kevin Blue, Canada Soccer's president and general secretary, called the fee increase "one component of a much broader effort to increase revenue" for the governing body.

According to the organization's 2023 annual report, membership fees account for some 20 per cent of Canada Soccer's revenue. The report says the rest comes from commercial and other fees (46 per cent), FIFA and CONCACAF grants (22 per cent), government grants (11 per cent) and the 2026 FIFA World Cup (one per cent).

Crooks was elevated to president from vice-president in February 2023 when Nick Bontis resigned, acknowledging change was needed to achieve labour peace with the Canadian men’s and women’s national teams. Crooks then defeated former Canada Soccer vice-president Rob Newman in a presidential election in May 2023.

That labour peace has yet to be achieved.

The lack of funding for Canadian youth teams had been a bone of contention with the senior players, concerned about the future.

Crooks, a five-time Olympian who earned silver in the 4×400 track relay at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, had been on the Canada Soccer board since 2012-13 and served as vice-president since January 2021.

The role of president is an unpaid position with Blue the top staff official.

New directors are Gayle Statton (B.C./Yukon), Terri Mattuci (Ontario), Terry Delblond (Quebec) and independent directors Brad Baker and Davide Xausa.

Statton has served as president of B.C. Soccer since November 2020. Mattucci is senior director of strategy and growth marketing for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

The 48-year-old Xausa is a former Canadian international who won 31 caps for Canada between 1999 and 2003. Baker is a member of the Squamish Nation from North Vancouver.

There are 14 members of the board, including the president and vice-president. Not all were up for re-election Saturday.

Kevin Colbow (B.C.), Natasha Irani, Paul Martin, Peter Raco and John Zerucelli (Ontario), Pierre Marchand and Martial Prud’homme (Quebec) and Filipe Dinis (independent) ran unsuccessfully for board positions.

The meeting also saw the release of Canada Soccer's 2033 annual report. The organization's final audited 2023 financial figures are expected in the new few weeks.

Blue has already offered a look at what lies ahead, in a March 30 update that cited an expected $4 million operating deficit on total expenses of $30 million in the fiscal 2024 budget.

The Project 8 women’s league was officially granted membership at Canada Soccer’s 2023 annual meeting. The governing body has since confirmed six women's clubs can proceed with operations and preparations for launch in 2025.

Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax have already been identified as cities for Project 8 clubs, with information on the other clubs yet to be announced. Six is the minimum number for the league to kick off.

"We look forward to working together with Peter (Augruso) and Canada Soccer’s newly elected board as we work together to create a pathway for the long-term growth and prosperity of women's soccer in Canada," Diana Matheson, the former Canadian international who is CEO and co-founder of Project 8, said in a statement.

“Canada Soccer’s tireless support for our League underscores our shared commitment to fostering inclusivity, equity, and excellence in soccer for girls and women at all levels.”

Matheson made a presentation on Project 8 to the annual meeting.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2024