Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman recently joined the growing list of voices calling for a rehaul of the Canadian Soccer Association, starting with the men’s head coach position. The following is a press release from the Voyageurs:
The Voyageurs, Canada’s leading soccer supporters group, has issued a call to the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) to reconsider its decision to ratify Mr. Dale Mitchell as head coach of the senior men’s national soccer team. Their public statement declares:
Given the extremely poor results, substandard play and lack of leadership in the men’s national program, the Voyageurs believe that Mr. Mitchell should be immediately relieved of his responsibilities.
The success of the men’s national program – and with it, the development of elite soccer players to represent Canada – depends on the CSA’s ability to respond to the flagrantly deficient situation within the men’s national team. This team has performed well below its potential ever since Mr. Mitchell was appointed coach in 2007, which we believe is linked to Mr. Mitchell’s inability to inspire top performances from his players.
Canada’s recent results in attempting to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup (zero wins, two draws and four losses in our semi-final qualifying group, for a total of two points out of a possible 18) is unacceptable, especially given the calibre of elite players in the Canadian talent pool.
Mr. Mitchell’s overall record with the national men’s senior team is three wins, five draws and eight losses, with two of those wins coming against CONCACAF minnow St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the preliminary round of World Cup qualifying. These results can only be construed as failure, and the lion’s share of that failure belongs to Mr. Mitchell.
As the passionate voice of Canadian soccer fans across the country and around the world, the Voyageurs are not so naive as to believe that Mr. Mitchell is the only party responsible for the national team’s disappointing results. We believe that individual players need to be called to task for their performances on the pitch as well. As elite professionals, those players that pull on the Canada jersey must understand that much more should and will be expected of them. We admire their 100% effort and commitment, but cannot respect those who decide to make weak excuses for poor results.
There can be no excuses. Nor can there be any other acceptable response from the Canadian Soccer Association. We call on the CSA to make the right decision, now.
The Voyageurs also believe that the CSA needs to show stronger leadership in taking Canadian soccer to the next level. We as fans have made a concerted effort to bolster our game-day support of all Canadian soccer teams, male and female, just as we support our local Canadian clubs. We are all in this together.
A Rigorous Hiring Process
The Voyageurs ask that Mr. Mitchell’s release be immediately followed by the opening of a rigorous hiring process to identify the best professional to lead our men’s national program to future international success. The time is now. There is no need to wait. After the abject failure of the recent World Cup qualifying campaign, and his previous failure with the winless (and goalless) Canadian Under-20 men’s team at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup that was hosted by Canada, there can be no justification for the continuation of Mr. Mitchell in his current position.
The Voyageurs wish to make clear that Canadian fans have no personal agenda with Mr. Mitchell. We have admired his contributions and performances as a leading Canadian player and have recognized his past successes as a youth coach. Those fine moments, however, have faded. When it comes to the men’s national team, it is time to work toward a brighter future under someone else’s leading light.
We reject any other solution on the part of the CSA Board of Directors. The Voyageurs encourage the current president and his board to give first priority to the interests of Canadian national soccer, its players and its fans, and to ignore partisan interests, regional lobbies, personal agendas and extraneous motivations that have nothing to do with ensuring the long-sought success of our men’s national program.
Yet the ultimate responsibility for team performance in top-level men’s soccer has and always will belong to the head coach and his technical staff. This is true in every serious soccer nation in the world. There are sufficient precedents from around the soccer world to prove that Mr. Mitchell’s current status is an aberration. He has not done his job and needs to go.