By Todd Lihou - editor
FIFA needs a kick in its big, fat butt over its lame-brained rules concerning alternate players at the Olympics.
Soccer’s world governing body, with its head offices in Switzerland, has a rule that bars alternate players from receiving medals at the Olympic games, which wouldn’t normally upset anyone from the Seaway City.
The problem is, one of our own is getting the royal screw job as a result of this archaic way of doing things.
Christina Julien, a world-class soccer player who helped get our national women’s team to the London games by participating in every qualifier her team competed in, was left off the medal podium when our girls trumped France in the bronze medal game.
This is the same Julien who just happened to score the game-winning goal in Team Canada’s game against Haiti at the women’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver.
The same Julien who is standing alongside her buddies in a photo of the national team on Soccer Canada’s website – all of them sporting shiny bronze medals.
All except Julien.
She’s still smiling and showing her commitment and respect for the game.
In a Tweet she sent out earlier this week Julien suggested she accepted the decision and is prepared to move on.
But her step-father Jim Moak is angry. He’s penned a letter to Soccer Canada and doesn’t mince words in demanding Julien be provided with a medal, along with the other alternates on the team.
“Soccer Canada needs to get off your duffs and make sure all of the alternates receive the medal they deserve," writes Moak. "I can assure you this family and her friends will not rest until this is resolved with Christina getting her just rewards."
As Canadians I guess we’re used to seeing the little guy get at least some respect in a situation like this. The Stanley Cup is the only trophy in major league sports which includes the names of players, coaches, managers, etc.
Players appearing in 41 regular-season games or one Stanley Cup final game for the championship team have their names engraved on the cup. The NHL makes exceptions for players who do not meet the standard because of injury or other extenuating circumstances.
FIFA needs to start employing a similar set of rules – which is respectful of anyone who helps their team to a championship. If it did, Julien would surely be bringing a bronze medal back to Cornwall.
Instead what we are left with is a tired set of rules which is excruciatingly painful in its simplicity – if you play in the Olympics you get a medal. If you don’t, then you don’t.
It sounds good on paper, but isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Julien and her other alternates – all deemed to be members of the Team Canada - deserve so much better.
I’m sure if one was to navigate the bureaucracy that is international sports, in this case FIFA, there would be more than enough fingerpointing to go around.
FIFA will tell you it’s Olympic tradition. The Olympic people will tell you FIFA sets the bar for medal recipients and Soccer Canada will toil away in the background trying in vain to secure a medal for Julien.
For the time being Julien is left empty-handed – and I suspect it’s going to stay that way. Something tells me it’s going to take a lot more than some angry people from Cornwall and a two-bit column to get FIFA to change its ways.
But one can always hope.