Twenty-one years ago in Mexico, Canada played in their first and only World Cup: three games no goals. Fast forward twenty-one years and even though there has been little success on the pitch, off the pitch things looked like they were turning around.
This summer the country played host to the U-20 World Cup, club teams Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps are all successes at the box office, and finally the country has a National Soccer Stadium built in Toronto. An outsider could be led to believe that soccer was in great shape in Canada, but a Canadian soccer fan knows better.
On August 28th Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) president Colin Linford resigned, a decision that brought Canadian supporters back to reality. The CSA is essentially a federation run by volunteers who oversee a $14-million business. When Linford resigned he said a culture of amateurism prevailed and the only way to save the federation was to disband the CSA.
This leads us to the Canada-Costa Rica friendly at the National Soccer Stadium this week. Canadian national team supporter group, the Voyageurs, began to post on their message board about organizing some kind of protest for the match. The goal was to bring attention to the failings of the CSA yet not take anything away from the team on the pitch.
Slowly other groups began to be involved. Toronto FC supporter groups, U-Sector and Red Patch Boys among others, spread word of a protest. “Black Wednesday” was the name of the action and the goal was to cover the stands in mourning black. The result was hundreds of black T-shirts printed up with the slogan “Support our national teams – Sack the CSA.” The shirts sold for $5, just enough to recoup the cost of production.
The main goal of the protest was to get people talking about reform and in this the supporters can claim Wednesday’s action a success as the protest made news nationwide. Canadian supporters realize the revolution won’t happen overnight but the grassroots passion and desire for change is as strong as ever.