The Reserve Squad: FIFA rejects Canada’s request to join Oceania qualifying zone

FIFA has turned down a request by the Canadian Soccer Association to transfer its men’s national team into the Oceania qualifying zone for the 2014 World Cup. The Canadians, despite high hopes heading into qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, were eliminated from contention before even reaching the final qualifying stage in the CONCACAF region, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. This led the CSA to take drastic action.

“We know there is much work that must be done to improve our chances of qualifying,” said CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli. “We have heard the calls from our fans to restructure our organization, remove wasteful bureaucracy, spend more money on the men’s national team, and build a soccer culture from the ground up by investing in long-term player development and sporting infrastructure.

“We, however, decided to take a more direct approach.”

The Oceania qualifying group features only 11 nations, including some of the lowest-ranked teams on the planet, such as Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, the Cook Islands, American Samoa and Papua New Guinea. Among these six minnows, the highest-ranked team as of December 2008 was Samoa, at #176. Canada, by contrast, is ranked 90th.

“We believe this is a group in which our team could flourish, without the hassles of increasing our resources or altering our structure,” said Montopoli.

FIFA, however, was not swayed by the CSA’s arguments. In a terse press release, the world governing body said it had rejected the CSA’s request, in part, because “the Canadian association’s contention that Canada should be granted admission to the Oceania Football Confederation simply because Canada is the only country to border three oceans is, while technically accurate, not a convincing argument in this context.”

FIFA was similarly unconvinced by Montopoli’s assertion that he had read George Orwell’s 1984 “like 15 times” and “always wanted to visit that place.”

Canada has not appeared in the World Cup since its only qualification in 1986, leading to frustration amongst Canadian fans at the team’s perpetually poor qualifying campaigns. However, that situation doesn’t appear to be generating much sympathy from those in New Zealand, a squad which hasn’t qualified since 1982 and emerged as the champion of Oceania qualifying for 2010.

“Canadians?” scoffed Murray McCully, New Zealand’s Minister of Sport. “We’re higher ranked than those polar bears anyway! [New Zealand is currently ranked #86] Besides, we waited long enough to get the bloody Aussies out of Oceania. If Canada wants to qualify, why don’t they just wait till Mexico leaves CONCACAF?”

Canada’s federal Minister of Sport could not be contacted for comment, since he does not exist.

Despite FIFA’s decision, Montopoli said the CSA still has a few options available. “We could give the men’s team a little more money, I suppose. We might be able to dip into the budget of the U-17 women’s futsal team. Actually, wait, no, one of the Quebec guys has a grand-daughter on that team. Forget I ever said that.”

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4 Responses to “The Reserve Squad: FIFA rejects Canada’s request to join Oceania qualifying zone”

  1. I’m not sure I could have emotionally handled it when we lost 3-2 on aggregate to Samoa anyway.

  2. It really wouldn’t surprise me if this was true. Maybe I should check the CSA website just to make sure.
    It would be great to take the wife to Tahiti and watch a game.

  3. Ah I see you got the memo that January 1st is the new April 1st. Good one.

  4. When it comes to Canadian soccer, it seems like every day is April Fool’s.

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