Canadian Naturalization Hopes for Soccer a Long Shot

The Canadian Men’s National Team and its fans shouldn’t wait around for Gershon Koffie and co. to fix the team
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, September 19, 2013

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

The talk of naturalized players suiting up for the Canadian Men’s national team won’t go away. Gershon Koffie, Camilo Sanvezzo, Hassoun Camara and Felipe Martins have all stated that they would play for Canada if given the chance and new Canada Men’s National Team manager Benito Floro have welcomed them as soon as they can.

This author has already welcomed immigrants to Team Canada but for practical reasons, but also for idealistic reasons, as Canada is a country of immigrants seeking a bigger and better future, and if Canada can welcome them outside of the pitch, it should do so on it as well.

With the help of good, old-fashioned journalistic work have made it clear that the bureaucracy of Canadian immigration would make it take a lot longer than just 5 years for the players to get their citizenships.

Bar help from Parliament and the government, the players likely wouldn’t make it should Canada qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and for Qatar 2022 and the players have gotten their citizenships. There would, however, be another challenge: Age.

In 2022 Koffie would be 30-going-on-31, Camilo would be 34-going-on-35, Camara 36, and Martins 31-going-on-32. While this might be acceptable ages for players deeply entrenched in the team, this could likely be players that are likely very new to the team.

If and when any player wants to play Canada and help improve the team, they should be welcomed, regardless of their background. Canada can find players that already have Canadian passports and are relevant for the team. But as the waiting time shows, there is no short cut for Canada.

If Canada is to qualify for a World Cup and even perform well, the emphasis must be on developing home-grown talent and as Belgium has shown, a coordinated effort focussing on skills development, rather than here-and-now victories, can really pay off and Canada can rise above 13th in CONCACAF and 106th in the world.

Things may be bad right now, but here we are still talking about Canadian soccer. Pessimism may be rife, but it is a lot better than apathy. Pessimism, anger and even taunting show that people still care and pay attention and if they do so they can be converted to active, positive supporters, while apathy or disinterest is a lot harder to fix.

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.