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    CHRONO SPORTS

  • Thursday, May 25, 2000

    For soccer honchos, it's the pits

    By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

     Emergency meetings are getting to be a dime a dozen in Edmonton.

     Today there's one involving the Canadian Soccer Association and Edmonton 2001 with the Edmonton Eskimos as interested obververs.

     CSA president Jim Fleming and Alberta Soccer Association boss Gary Sampley have asked for the emergency meeting with Rick LeLacheur of Edmonton 2001 to try to stop the laying of asphalt for jumping pits in Commonwealth Stadium so Canada can play host to two World Cup qualifying games here this summer.

     "If they lay the asphalt for those pits, we can't play the games here,'' said Sampley. "And considering no consultation and no notice, and leaving us with no stadium in Canada with more than 10,000 seats to play those games ... ''

     Edmonton 2001 has been forced, in the fitout of Commonwealth Stadium, to situate the long jump and triple-jump pits on the east side of the stadium inside the track. This will leave the field too narrow to meet World Cup regulations. Also, having now seen a sample of the artificial surface Edmonton 2001 will use down the sidelines and throughout the end zones, the soccer people consider it inferior to the substance approved recently by FIFA, and the substance Eskimos GM Tom Higgins figured they were going to have in Commonwealth Stadium on the mix 'n' match field the Eskimos must play on until the Aug. 3-12, 2001 World Championships in Athletics.

     Edmonton 2001 contends they can't wait until this time next year to install the asphalt base for the Mondo track. A late spring and a Canadian track and field championships planned for June as a pre-Worlds event, combined with a 30-day minimum cure time, make it impossible, they insist.

     The whole soccer deal will be moot if Canada loses a home-and-home series with Cuba (June 4 in Havana and June 11 in Winnipeg) to advance to the semifinal rounds of qualifying.

     A July 16 game against Trinidad & Tobago and a Thanksgiving Day game against Panama are the games in question. Canada has already moved Mexico, originally slotted for the Thanksgiving spot, to Vancouver on Nov. 15.



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