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Herdman says he should have stepped down as Canada coach ahead of World Cup

John Herdman John Herdman - The Canadian Press

John Herdman says he should have stepped down as Canada coach ahead of last year's World Cup in Qatar.

Herdman, who announced in late August that he was leaving Canada to take over Toronto FC, says he should have left in the wake of his sister Nicola's suicide in May 2022. Herdman said he was persuaded by others to continue with Canada.

The Canadian men, under Herdman, had qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years with a win over Jamaica that March.

"It really hurt us … I've never been hurt like that. I'd always been the fixer in my family and I couldn't fix it," Herdman told the CBC's Player's Own Voice podcast. "So coming out of that (successful) World Cup qualification, it was like the highest high down to the worst experience I'd had in my life. And she'd reached out for help when I was at the Gold Cup and I didn't help her in the way I could have.

"And then I just knew Canada, from an organizational perspective, we weren't ready."

With the players boycotting a planned Vancouver friendly with Panama in June 2022 over the lack of movement in labour talks, Herdman said the team's mentality changed.

"The 'we' had gone to 'me.' I should have left," he said.

Herdman said he felt his job was done getting the team to the men's World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

"I did not need that World Cup. I don't know if I wanted it either," he told the podcast.

Canada was beaten by Belgium, Croatia and Morocco, exiting after the group stage.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 12, 2023