Canada Soccer may need to explore bankruptcy as financial struggles mount

John Herdman encouraged Canada Soccer to "find solutions" as the organization admitted to having serious financial issues on Monday.

John Herdman encouraged Canada Soccer to
John Herdman encouraged Canada Soccer to "find solutions" as the organization admitted to having serious financial issues on Monday. (Canadian Press)

Canada Soccer interim general secretary Jason de Vos said that the organization may have to explore bankruptcy, citing a severe lack of revenue that may impede both national teams from competing during international windows later this fall, during an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead.

The women’s national team is scheduled for next month’s World Cup, with its first game versus Nigeria on July 21, while the men’s national team co-hosts the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the United States, with its opening game against Guatemala on June 27. The women’s national team is also slated to play two games each during the Sept. 18-26, Oct. 23-31 and Nov. 27-Dec 5 international breaks.

“We are in a real struggle. It’s not imminent, but we need to explore what bankruptcy entails and how it might affect our organization,” de Vos told Westhead. “We don’t have enough revenue coming in for the programs that need to be run, and that includes everything from grassroots coach education and referee development to youth national teams and our senior men’s and women’s teams.”

de Vos, who captained Canada to its lone Gold Cup victory in 2000, was appointed to his new position on April 25, previously serving as director of development. He clarified that bankruptcy wasn’t imminent, but it was a course of action considered as a last resort.

“…[bankruptcy] has been discussed, but not in the sense of this is a strategy or this is something that we're looking at,” de Vos said. “It's been discussed more from my own perspective to learn about it. It is absolutely the last option that I want to consider or even think about. But I would be remiss if I didn't do my due diligence on this.”

Canada Soccer signed a deal with Canada Soccer Business (CSB) in 2018, receiving an annual payment of $3 million in exchange for the representation of all media rights for both national teams, along with all rights associated with the Canadian Premier League. CSB holds the option to extend the deal through 2037, for an annual fee ranging from $3-4 million, Westhead reports.

“I’ve told CSB that we are in this together,” de Vos said. “I know how important it is to have professional leagues for men and women in this country, but that cannot come at the expense of our men’s and women’s national team. Our youth boys’ and girls’ national teams need to develop the best players in Canada who go on and succeed at the international level because that success is going to drive the game forward.”

Canada men’s national team head coach John Herdman pleaded for the organization to get serious following a 2-0 loss to the United States in the Nations League Final. Jonathan David, Jonathan Osorio and Richie Laryea were among the players seated in coach on their flights home after the loss due to cash shortages.

“We’ve got the best generation of players we’ve had, and there’s more coming. … [But] we’ve got to figure this out financially,” Herdman said. "We’ve got to get serious about winning a World Cup. When you play at home, you get a chance to win it. You get a chance to get to a quarterfinals and then get on that road to win. And we’re not serious. We’ve brought a World Cup to our country and we’re not serious about winning it.”

de Vos responded to the incident.

"In terms of them flying business class, it's transatlantic flights only," de Vos said. "We would love to be able to fly all of our players in business class on every flight, but we don't have the resources to do that. It's not that we're saying, 'You don't deserve it, or you don't need it.' We can't afford it."

Herdman also addressed Westhead's report on Monday, on the eve of Canada's Gold Cup opener against Guadeloupe.

“We have to find solutions and find them quick,” Herdman said. “It’s not about pointing fingers. I think the whole group has to come together. The whole game has to come together to find a genuine solution to make sure our country can perform. The players have earned that right. The staff have earned that right. We shouldn’t be going backwards after a World Cup.”

Sport Minister Pascal St-Onge ordered an independent audit of Canada Soccer on May 30. Westhead reported that Canada Soccer’s cash reserves depleted from $7.1 million to $2.4 million by the end of 2022.