Thursday, May 3, 2012

Women's World Cup is coming to Vancouver

Soccer, on the front lawn of Parliament Hill in Ottawa?

You bet. A girls youth friendly match is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time May 4. before Canadian Soccer Association president Dominic Maestracci and FIFA president Sepp Blatter unveil the list of cities to host matches for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.

One of the cities will be Vancouver. But you'll have to wait a bit longer to find out whether it hosts a semi-final, bronze medal match and/or the championship final.

"The schedule will be released in the second half of 2012," said CSA communications manager Michele Dion.

B.C. Place Stadium's only serious competition for the final is Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. Olympic Stadium in Montreal is a darkhorse. Toronto will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games, so BMO Field and Rogers Centre will be off limits. The British Columbia government committed $2 million of taxpayers funds to the CSA to bring matches to Vancouver. We do not know the full cost to taxpayers for the tournament. The federal government has promised at least $15 million.

B.C. Soccer Association executive director Bjorn Osieck will be there, as part of a delegation of seven from the west coast for the weekend's annual general meeting. Maestracci faces a leadership challenge, as Canada's four professional clubs are backing candidate Rob Newman in the May 5 election. The SBC Insurance CEO, formerly from Saskatchewan, has been a CSA vice-president since 2006 and chairs the governance committee.

The CSA will be patting itself on the back all weekend over so-called governance reforms. It's still an organization that has not met the challenge of transparency. If it really wants the public to believe in reform, the best, first step would be to release a financial report. Until then, it'll be up to us in the media to pay $5 to the government under the Access to Information Act to get a copy.

Dion said Blatter will stay for the Saturday AGM and banquet. Will it be his last visit to Canada? Blatter is serving his third and final term as FIFA president after his 2011 re-election. The world's soccer governing body is under fire for allegations of widespread corruption.

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