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    CHRONO SPORTS

  • Friday, June 30, 2000

    No news is ...

    Bad news if you call a presser

    By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

     What if they gave a press conference and nobody came?

     That was the uncomfortable position the Canadian soccer team put their Edmonton hosts in yesterday.

     Faced with poor ticket sales for the July 16 World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago at Commonwealth Stadium, local organizers called a press conference to try and drum up interest.

     Unfortunately, they didn't have anything new to say, aside from "come out and support the lads," and had nobody new to say it.

     JUST THE TROPHY

     There were no players from the national team on hand to be interviewed for a fresh angle. No coach.

     No. Nobody. Just the Gold Cup trophy, which the upstart Canadians won in shocking fashion earlier this year in L.A.

     And the trophy wasn't talking.

     "We've been working full time on that, trying to get players," said John Gill, chairman of the local organizing committee.

     "We hope to have at least one next week, and maybe as many as three."

     Failing that, he's hoping the team's arrival the weekend of the match will get the town buzzing.

     It's a delicate balance at work here.

     On one hand the locals need Canadian players and coaches to help sell the event.

     On the other, Canadian coach Holger Osieck doesn't want to disrupt his own pre-game preparations.

     "Holger wants to protect his players and keep them fit mentally and physically," said Gill. "The promotion is my side of it."

     And despite Canada's recent successes - a 15-game unbeaten streak and the Gold Cup triumph that included a win over Mexico - fans aren't exactly fist-fighting over tickets.

     SOFT SO FAR

     "It's been sort of soft so far," said Gill, adding between 2,000 and 3,000 have been sold to date, and another 5,000 vouchers have been given out (vouchers admit one child for free when accompanied by an adult with a paid ticket).

     "I would have been happier with more, but I've been told that the last two weeks is when the real push is."

     This is the only World Cup qualifier in Edmonton this time around. Canada will host Panama in Winnipeg in October and Mexico in Toronto in November.



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