Details of the Canadian Soccer League press conference of Thursday May 2nd, 2013 at 12:00pm held at the Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn by Hilton in Etobicoke. There were about 50 people in attendance, most with some link to the league or one of the teams. The meeting was called to order at about 12:15pm. The head table was made up of Pino Jazbec (league administrator), Phil Ionadi (head of player development), Willy Jung (Rogers TV), Vincent Ursini (chairman of the league), Eric Barber (Days Inn), and Stan Adamson (director of media and PR). Stan Adamson opened up with the joke "This press conference is sanctioned". He went into some detail of what it felt like over the last few months waiting for court decisions--like not being able to drive. The league is a full member of the CSA in good standing under FIFA and CONCACAF. (for now I'll say). Vince Ursini said he's been through the system and has seen a lot. One thing that holds us back is the self serving interests that come ahead of the game. It starts with coaches holding back the kids. In the CSA he saw a massive conflict of interest until about a year and a half ago when some changes were initiated. This league has had 10-14 teams apply from Quebec over the years. There's also been interest from BC. He's ashamed to see the system work like it does. The league has survived for 87 years although he can only comment on the last 15. He said it's survived because of the total commitment of the owners of the CSL and (Toronto) Lynx...they all lose money but have a conviction of the owners for their love of the game. He was around when the OSA desanctioned the CNSL. Our system is mostly run by volunteers. There are probelms getting pro soccer across the country. He thanked the owners. Ursini addressed the issue of match fixing. Should we be ashamed of it? Is it the owners/victims fault if their car is stolen? The investigation of the 2009 (match fixing) incident is still being investigated. He hasn't heard of anyone who's been able to solve match fixing. He wants to make sure we punish them to be a deterrent. There wasn't an investigation of US College basketball although FBI wiretaps revealed they're fixing games. We have twelve teams this year (in the first division). TFC Academy and Montreal Impact Academy will not be back. The other three have taken a year's leave of absence. Ursini said the CSL is the best player development league in the country. He's heard testimonials from ex Canadian National team coaches and TFC and Montreal Impact. 1st Question: from John Horvath "We should have a CSL/PDL/amature team tournament across the country! TFC, Impact, Whitecaps are not supporting that". [I think he was holding a petition]. Ursini answered the CSL had an open cup years ago but it got curtailed by different provincial associations. The CSL ran a Women's league as amatures because of provincial resistance. He says "Let the players play". He's trying to have a second tier/entry level division for financial reasons and level competition. We are a semi-professional league. He criticised the Easton report--it's not likely that owners will start out cold in some regions. Run a second tier league regionally and wnen it climbs to 15 teams maybe five teams will make the jump to the next highest level. He is in favour of other provinces starting their own semi-pro leagues. He said the CSA had antiquated rules from 1987 that are slowly being changed. They established standards that in the first year the players salaries per team would be $75,000 and the second year they'd be $150,000. The CSL was in good standing with the CSA unti the last few months. Stan Adamson said the CSL was accepted as a conditional member in the CSA in 2009 and a full member since 2010. Over the years the league has had team applications from Michigan and New York states but turned them down as they were advised by Sepp Blatter to "keep soccer in your own country" so they will not lose control of decision making. He pointed out how the USL is American controlled. Adamson said the CSL had met 90% of the 'new' CSA standards and most of the 10% they didn't agree on were financial in nature. Adamson addressed match fixing from Europe saying the CSL is still waiting for a CSA reply. The CSL was subject to undeserved sanctioning. The CSL will make sure match fixing doesn't happen again. He said there are 43 players who have played for junior national teams (not all Canadian nat teams--he meant Jamaica etc). The referee development in the league has been a success as many have moved on to higher leagues. The CSL second division has become a development league for young players. Phil Ionadi was introduced to talk about the development of youth players. He started with personal stories like at age 15 when he went over to Italy for the AC Milan Academy where'd they'd practice themselves then go five fields over and watch the first teams superstars. Then at age 17 he played for the North York Rockets which was also an eye-opener to play against older players. Look at the 1 Billion dollar investment in youth development soccer in Germany and now they will have both teams in the UEFA Championship League final. He was working with Armando Costa until he died earlier this year and Ionadi will continue and make him proud. Pino Jazbec spoke next and asked us to look at our press kits. There are twelve teams in the First Division. As Windsor Stars was squeezed in at the last minute so they were off to a slow start (first game for them at beginning of June). The playoffs will take place and be over by the end of October (last league game regular season on October 6th). There will be nine teams in the second division. Jazbec said about 90% of the time, teams will only play once a week. 22 games per team. Single table. Jazbec said that television this year has Cogego cable covering the Niagara and Kingston teams. Brampton will have all their home games covered (Rogers territory). The GTA will be covered by Rogers. The league web site will be showing two games per week in their entirety. Adamson spoke and again came back to betting. He said Ursini had gone to a symposium in New York and heard that betting had reached $1 million per game in this league. He said it is easier to manipulate a smaller league. I asked a question: What do they think of the six or so people at every game from the betting companies that are in the crowd saying "it's safe, home team danger, it's safe" throughout the game? (which are instructions to their home base to not take any bets at that minute because the home team has been awarded a Penalty kick etc). Ursini answered me: We don't object to the betting forwarders in the stands. [actually I thought a good clear answer] but then he rambled on into an actual example of match fixing in Germany and Switzerland. Adamson said CSL doesn't have any problems with the betting companies. Adamson then said Canada will likely never have a top flight league (the biggest teams will be in MLS). Any cross country league will be at this/our level. Eric Barber from Days Inn spoke next and told a joke about his company chasing soccer teams and the luxury hotels are chasing the hockey teams. Also some personal moments with him and his father back in Holland then about his sons but he got in a related story about his son quitting soccer after having his team not being able to play in a tournament in the next district because of that association's sanctioning. He was the first speaker of the day that drew applause. Willy Jung from Rogers TV spoke next. He said they were cutting back on their weekly broadcasts but not because of CSA sanctions. There's been pressure by community groups to broadcast other sports--more 'grassroots sports' and less CSL and IBL (baseball?). There will be more soccer youth leagues covered. Toronto has three area CSL teams. Jung did say that Rogers was increasing coverage with two channels, digital 368 and 369 High Def with its "Local Sports Plus" channels and so now they will be able to broadcast games all over Southern Ontario. There will be different times for local coverage. This will give the CSL bigger 'reach' than they've ever had before. This information will be confirmed in the next few weeks. Big applause for these statements. Adamson then welcomed Burlington FC into the league and introduced their owners. He said there will be a Hungarian touch in the league with the Toronto Vasas organization "Astros Vasas FC" with shared ownership with North York Astros [who the last few years have won usually only one to four games per year]. The meeting ended at 1:17pm (hmm one hour) and there was then an opportunity to ask one on one questions and have sandwiches at the buffet. I can tell the league has been hurt by the CSA decision and court action. The schedule was only made up in the last week. There will be many fans that won't know what's going on as the teams have been waiting to find out if they'll be operating. Fortunately only two games are being held on this first week (Kingston and London) and both have had their own press conferences this week to draw local coverage to their teams. The web pages for the league and many of the teams need updating. Many have links and logos for teams that are out of the league. I saw Alex B who produced the show "This Week in the CSL" in the last few years before the meeting say to me that he'd been relegated to only web broadcasts but after the conference ended was over talking to Willy Jung and hopefully pitching his show to fill space on those new Rogers channels. Rocket Robin firstname.lastname@example.org
The hotel Hampton Inn.
Vince Ursini speaking.
From left--Pino Jazbec, Phil Ionadi, Willy Jung, Eric Barber, and Stan Adamson
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