April 21, 2013 CSL--CSL Reinstated as CSA-Sanctioned League (from CSL web site)
CSL REINSTATED AS CSA-SANCTIONED LEAGUE - Sport arbitration body rules in favour of Canada’s top league in its dispute with CSA A recent decision by the Canadian Soccer Association to de-sanction the Canadian Soccer League with immediate effect was wrong, Canada’s sport dispute resolution body has ruled. In a decision brought down in Ottawa today, arbitrator Justice Hugh L. Fraser considered the CSA decision to be heavy handed, without sufficient consultation with the CSL and leaving the league with little opportunity to seek an alternative means of playing its upcoming season. If the CSA wishes to remove sanction from the CSL, it will have to do it effective February 13, 2014, he decided. As a result of Mr. Justice Fraser's decision, the CSL will continue to operate throughout the 2013 season under full CSA sanctioning and governance. The CSL appealed to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) mid-March following discussions with CONCACAF, then FIFA, after receiving a letter dated February 13 from the CSA which stated the national body will no longer sanction the CSL following the adoption of a proposed new structure for soccer in Canada at the semi-professional level. CONCACAF and FIFA considered the disagreement to be an internal one and the SDRCC arbitration was then decided to be the CSL’s next avenue of appeal. The CSL remained a member in good standing with the CSA following the decision to de-sanction. The CSA stated at a hearing on April 10 that it is empowered to make policy decisions in the best interests of soccer and its members. CSA president Victor Montagliani stated the decision to no longer sanction the CSL had nothing to do with any match fixing allegations against the CSL and everything to do with the adoption of the Easton report and CSA Professional Committee recommendations for a new semi-professional structure. The CSL argued at the hearing that there was no legitimate, logical or legal reason to de-sanction the CSL immediately. CSL president Vincent Ursini said he was anxious to see the conclusions of the Easton Report. Only Phase 1 of the two-phased study has been completed and disseminated to date and Phase 2, which is to study the viability of two different options, is anxiously awaited as it is expected to contain conclusive recommendations. The CSL has maintained a position of being eager to assist in developing a national structure for semi-professional soccer and agreed with the concept of a national semi-pro league, but the extent to which a new league would be developmental required some consideration. The Easton report put focus on the age group 18 – 23, while the CSL’s first division has many promising professional players in their mid-20s with emphasis on games being attractive for the fans. The CSL, which has a long history going back to 1926, and its member clubs, were rocked by the CSA decision to de-sanction, particularly in view of its long-standing aspirations to expand on a regional basis across Canada. The CSL was accepted into CSA membership in 2009 after being governed for many years by the Ontario Soccer Association and expansion was a significant reason for the CSL seeking national governance. The CSL operated 16 teams in its first division and 12 in the second division during the 2012 season. Many players are on professional contracts and there has been an increasing number selected for various national teams in several countries in recent years and many players have moved to high level clubs, mostly in Europe. Toronto FC withdrew their top two academy teams from the CSL following the CSA decision to de-sanction the league and the senior academy team from Montreal Impact followed. The ensuing uncertainty of the CSL has caused other teams to put their season plans on hold and major business decisions have been delayed or cancelled. CSL president Vincent Ursini said on receiving the arbitration decision: “While we are pleased with the ruling, I have to say that never for a moment did I consider the CSA decision and the process, or lack thereof, to de-sanction the CSL to be a correct one. It flies in the face of fairness, it was unprecedented, unjust, and has been very disruptive and harmful to our league and our teams - now somewhat depleted for the coming season. The teams deserve some reckoning for what they have endured, I thank them for their conviction and patience and I’m also grateful for our lawyers and our group for their work in helping to arrive at this decision” he said. The CSL’s new season will now kickoff May 3 when SC Waterloo visits London City at 8.30 pm, delayed from the late April starting date decided in January. That will be followed on May 5 by the Kingston FC opener against Brampton City Utd, a 1 pm kickoff. The complete league formation and 2013 season schedule will be released at a press conference the week of April 29.
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