OTTAWA – Canada Soccer named five-time Olympian Charmaine Crooks its interim president on Wednesday, as the embattled national sports organization looks to broker labour peace with its men’s and women’s teams.
Crooks, who had been serving as vice-president of Canada Soccer’s board of directors, takes over from Nick Bontis, who resigned on Monday. The executive change comes in the wake of a letter from provincial and territorial soccer leaders asking Bontis to step down given the bitter labour dispute.
Canada’s World Cup men’s team refused to play a planned exhibition against Panama last June at Vancouver, while the Olympic gold-medal winning women played the SheBelieves Cup last month only after Canada Soccer threatened legal action.
The men’s and women’s teams have demanded Canada Soccer open its books, including its agreement with Canadian Soccer Business, which arranges sponsorship and broadcast deals.
“The job ahead for our organizations, our sport, and for the players who wear our Canadian jersey, is as important to me as any race I’ve competed in,” Crooks said in a statement. “I know and understand the calls to get this right, and I am certain that we will be able to deliver real progress for our national teams all the way on down to our grassroots.
“I want to thank the members of the board for their support and I am fully committed to listening, learning and building relationships and trust across the entire soccer ecosystem in Canada.”
Crooks becomes the first woman and the first person of colour to lead Canada Soccer after serving as vice-president for two years.
She also served as head of delegation with the women’s national team, and currently serves on the organizing committee for FIFA Competitions.
Crooks, who was named to the Order of Canada in 2012, has previously worked as a board director with the Canadian Olympic Committee and was a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes Commission.
As an athlete, she was Canada’s first female five-time Olympian and won a silver medal as a member of the 1984 women’s 4×400-metre relay team in Los Angeles.
Also Wednesday, the Canada Soccer board named Kelly Brown, executive vice-president at Arterra Wines Canada, as its acting vice president.
Brown was elected a Canada Soccer independent director in 2020.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2023.
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