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Walker departs Canada Soccer on day she was to begin top role

Alyson Walker Alyson Walker - The Canadian Press

Exactly a month after Canada Soccer announced Alyson Walker would join the federation as its general secretary, Walker today wrote on her LinkedIn account that she has decided not to accept the position.

“Many of you will know I accepted the role of [general secretary] at Canada Soccer last month and was to start today,” Walker wrote. “However, after careful consideration and conversation with my family, I have decided for personal reasons not to step into the role. 

“I wish Canada Soccer the very best and will be cheering on the women’s national team as they prepare for the Olympic Games in Paris and the men’s national team in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup in 2026 on home soil. I look forward to sharing more of my professional journey in the future.”

Walker would have become the first woman to hold down the top staff position at the governing body of Canadian soccer. In December, Canada Soccer wrote in  a statement announcing Walker’s hiring that she was among more than 200 candidates who were identified through a four-month process conducted by the global search firm Korn Ferry.

Canada Soccer wrote in a statement that Korn Ferry will resume its search for a new general secretary. The federation said it has formed a transition leadership team led by board member Kelly Brown, chair of Canada Soccer’s human resources committee. Other members of the leadership team include Canada Soccer chief operating officer Mathieu Chamberland, chief financial officer Sean Heffernan, and chief communications and content officer Paulo Senra.

“Our thoughts are with Alyson as she deals with an unforeseen personal matter that sadly precludes her from taking on the role of general secretary,” Canada Soccer board chair Charmaine Crooks wrote in a statement

Former national team captain Jason deVos, who previously was Canada Soccer's director of development, had been general secretary on an interim basis since Earl Cochrane stepped down late last April. deVos has since joined Major League Soccer club Toronto FC as an assistant coach.

Canada Soccer, which is set to co-host the FIFA men’s World Cup in 2026, has been ensnared in a protracted labour fight with national team players and faces financial struggles.

Sources have told TSN that Walker’s first major assignment as general secretary would have been to decide a permanent coach for the men's national team. Mauro Biello has been interim coach since John Herdman resigned in August to coach Toronto FC.

Walker, who recently worked as chief commercial officer with OverActive Media, a Toronto-based esports company, was Bell Media’s vice-president of brand partnerships and client strategy from 2016 to 2019. She also worked previously as MLSE’s vice-president of content and as the Canadian Olympic Committee's executive director of marketing partnerships and licensing.