Skip to main content

Canadian Soccer League

The Canadian Soccer Association has removed its seal of approval from the Canadian Soccer League, a largely Ontario semi-pro league with long-standing soccer roots.

The CSA, the national governing body of soccer, says it is going ahead with the regional soccer league blueprint recommended in a recent report. And it has opted not to continue sanctioning the CSL because it wants to move ahead with the next stage of its plan with a clean slate.

"If somebody else came to us and said 'Hey we want to run a semi-pro league,' we're not going to sanction them either," CSA president Victor Montagliani said in an interview Tuesday.

Story continues below advertisement

The CSL calls the decision unfair and says it will fight the move to lose sanctioning. And it says it is baffled by the decision since it is essentially a regional league already in place.

"The CSL and its owners and clubs will not sit idly by as 'soccer road kill' in the CSA's efforts to force-fit a new structure into the existing professional soccer landscape in Canada without providing even basic fairness to the CSL," league administrator Pino Jazbec said in a statement.

Montagliani says the CSL decision is "the administrative result" of the board accepting the so-called "Rethink Management" report.

Having approved the report, the CSA is looking to create third-tier regional leagues while building a separate framework around teams like FC Edmonton and the fledgling Ottawa Fury in the second-tier North American Soccer League.

The idea is to give developing players a place to hone their skills outside of MLS academies.

The Canadian Soccer Association has long pondered how to put soccer on the map and keep it there. Pro leagues have come and gone, as have many studies on the matter.

Today, it has essentially ceded the high ground to Major League Soccer while looking to build a national framework below it.

Story continues below advertisement

The CSL has been plowing its own furrow, drawing in teams with soccer heritages of their own. Toronto Croatia, for example, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006 and, as the Toronto Metros-Croatia of the North American Soccer League, once was home to Portuguese star Eusebio.

Essentially, the CSA move leaves the CSL out in the cold. The CSL says the decertification means it "cannot function as a competitive league in Canada."

In a letter to the CSA, the league complains that as a result of the national body's actions, the sale of at least one CSL team has been aborted and league sponsorships and player contract negotiations have been affected, among other issues.

Montagliani says the CSL's next step is to talk to the Ontario Soccer Association to see how the clubs might fit into its proposed regional league.

The CSA vision is to have such regional leagues governed by a national body, a la junior hockey.

The 87-year-old CSL — which bills itself as Canada's professional league on its website and which has been home to both the Toronto FC and Montreal Impact academy teams — is slated to kick off its new season in April.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's a decision we had to make. Whether we did it now or did it a couple of months earlier, I don't think it really would have made a difference in terms of their acceptance of it or non-acceptance of it," said Montagliani.

The CSL says it will do whatever it takes to reverse the decision.

"We haven't been in business as a fixture of Canadian pro soccer for the past 87 years just to meekly fold the tents when our governing body acts in a manner we consider to be fundamentally unreasonable, unlawful and unfair," Jazbec said. "We hope that common sense will prevail, but we are ready to take whatever actions are necessary to defend our rights, our league and the commercial viability of our member clubs."

The first division of the CSL features 16 teams: 15 from Ontario and the Montreal Academy squad. The second division has 12 Ontario teams.

Montagliani said the move to stop sanctioning the CSL had nothing to do with reports last year that CSL games had been linked to a European match-fixing syndicate via wiretaps in a German investigation. German court heard the syndicate tried to fix matches around the world.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter