CPSL Administrator explains Wizards removal from Open Canada Cup Aug 24, 2003 Author: Soccer Online - It's Called Futbol Things are heating up off the field on the road to the 2003 CPSL Open Canada Cup. Here is a rundown of the latest developments. First week in August: The Ottawa Wizards, Metro Lions, Durham Flames, St. Catharines Roma Wolves and Kanata Soccer Club all qualify for the final round to be played at an undetermined location over the August 29-Sept. 1 weekend. The CPSL competitions committee accepts hosting bids from Ottawa, London, Durham, St. Catharines and the Metro Lions to host the competition. Second week of August: The CPSL's competitions committee narrows the field down to London and Ottawa. Ottawa is presented with an opportunity to host the finals. Wizards owner Omur Sezerman refuses to accept the financial and logistical terms put forth by the CPSL. Sezerman is particularly incensed by the CPSL scheduling his club to play a preliminary match against the Durham Flames in order to qualify for the semifinals as well as having to play three games in three days to win the championship and a 10,000 prize. Third week of August: The Open Canada Cup and the CPSL playoffs are awarded to London City, which presented a strong bid with the backing of London Tourism. Sezerman notifies the league that his team will boycott the final. The League sets a deadline for the Wizards to indicate they will participate in the Open Cup. The Wizards do not respond and the CPSL remove the Eastern Conference leaders from the competition. Sezerman publicly states that he will seek a court injunction to halt the tournament and that he intends to sue the league and several of its individual members for damages. The writing was on the wall as early as a year ago. The Ottawa Wizards' owner Omur Sezerman arrived in London last fall with his squad to take part in the Canadian Professional Soccer Leagues' League Cup final round tournament. The outspoken Sezerman was clearly incensed that his first-place team would have to play three games in three days to win the competition -- a wild-card game against the hosting London City, a semifinal match the next day, and then the finals on the Sunday. Adding fuel to Sezerman's ire was the fact that his club had bid for and had been selected to host the tournament after Hamilton relinquished its hosting duties. The CPSL board reversed a decision by the League management committee and gave the final competition to London City. And so the Wizards reluctantly journeyed down to London, where they did indeed win three-games in three days for the first jewel in their triple-crown season - the Eastern Conference title and the Rogers Cup followed. According to Sezerman, the league was warned at the 2002 League Cup in London that the Wizards would not be subjected to such scheduling terms again. So it is hardly surprising to find now that the Ottawa Wizards will not be involved in the final round of the 2003 Open Canada Cup, despite qualifying for the competition. According to the CPSL's administrator and media director, Stan Adamson, the Ottawa Wizards bid for the 2003 Open Canada Cup fell apart last week when the club and the league could not agree on certain "financial" and "logistical" details. On the other hand, London City's bid, backed by the whole-hearted support of London Tourism and local TV-coverage, was so strong that it was able to capture the hosting rights for the Playoff Cup as well. "It just seemed that, over time, (Sezerman) took exception to so many things that it was becoming very difficult to satisfy him," said Adamson of the Wizard's owner. "He thought he his team should have gone right through to the finals or the semifinals without having to play a game. Every other team has had to play two or three games to reach the final round. His team has only had to play one game (against Montreal). "He also said that if the (Open Cup) competition was held anywhere other than Ottawa, after the promises that were made last year - which we don't know anything about - he said he would sue us. "His major criticism was that the CPSL has been unfair to the Ottawa Wizards since they came into the league. We demonstrated that this wasn't true. There have been many instances where we have favoured them. In fact we have been accused of paying more attention to them than to any other club. We have been plagued by his comments, accusations and complaints. Now he says he is going to file an injunction to stop the Cup from being played and he is also going to file a lawsuit seeking damages from the CPSL. That is in the works right now." Adamson remarked that when Sezerman took the CSA, OSA and Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association to court over a year ago over an unrelated matter, CPSL President Vince Ursini stood by the Ottawa owner's side, despite the fact that Ursini maintained a place on OSA and CSA boards. "Vince supported the Wizards in that matter, which is not indicative of an organization that is unfair to that club," Adamson observed. Both the Wizards and the CPSL have stated that they do not expect the current disagreement to affect the club's league and playoff commitments. Adamson concluded: "We had reached the point where we were going to launch a promotional campaign, but we were hesitating because (Sezerman) kept saying he wasn't going to play. We asked him to confirm that he would fulfill his commitment and participate. He wouldn't do that. We gave him a deadline - Thursday at 3:00 p.m. - and he didn't meet the deadline, so we followed through. We needed to have a final round of teams that we knew were going to be there."
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